Taco Salad

People think to lose weight you have to eat a bunch of lettuce and grilled chicken every day for the rest of your life.  I was one of these people for my entire life up until January 15, 2009 and I still can’t answer why I used to think that way.  Maybe it’s because we’re programmed to think we either have to buy into the meal plans, diet pills, or expensive weight loss “programs” or we’re destined to a life of being overweight or obese.

Or maybe it’s because we think we have to hate what we eat to lose weight.

taco salad 1024x768 Taco Salad

When I said simple low calorie meal ideas, I mean really simple.  Easy meals that require very little preparation or skill in the kitchen and can be prepared by people in a hurry, college students, and, you know, men.

Here’s how to prepare this taco salad:

  • Fry ground lean beef w/ taco seasoning
  • While beef is cooking, slice and dice your choice of toppings which can include lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives, and cheese
  • Drain beef and use as a base for above toppings
  • Add salsa if so desired
  • Eat!

taco salad nutritional Taco SaladAccording to PapayaHead, this meal has about 375 calories.  You can view the rest of the nutritional details on the right (pulled directly from my PapayaHead account).

The two bad boys in this meal are the top and bottom of this salad, the (lean) beef and cheese — go light on both, about 1/3 a cup of shredded cheese and about 3 ounces of beef.   You’ll also notice notice there are no shells or tortillas.  While I buy the taco kit for the seasoning, I discard the shells as they’re not worth the calories.

Keep in mind, I said I was going to start posting ideas for simple and quick low calorie meals.  These meals may not necessarily be the definition of healthy per se and some meals may contain large amounts of sodium, fat, etc.  If you do have one meal during the day that contains a lot of fat like this one, for example, make sure your other meals do not.

Eating is about moderation and balance.

41 thoughts on “Taco Salad”

  1. You can buy the taco seasoning packets by themselves. They come individually so that you don’t have to buy the kit and then throw out the shells. Thanks for the recipe sounds delicious!

  2. Nice :) I already make a variation of this sometimes, taco salad is one of my favourite meals! I sometimes use ground lean turkey as well. I also go without tortillas or taco shells as i would rather save the calories for other stuff.

    Can’t wait to see what else you come up with!

  3. I was going to say the same about the Taco seasoning packets. They are on the spice aisle where you find pot roast, beef stew and gravy type packs.

    I like refried beans mixed with the taco seasoning too with the fixins you offer [makes a nice vegetarian option - although I am not vegetarian]

  4. It’s amazing what you can eat when you just stop eating so much. I eat all kinds of things that are “bad” for me. I just don’t eat them as often. You CAN have potato chips if you eat one small bag instead of the whole jumbo bag (with onion dip). Watching how much you eat is more important than watching what you eat.

    1. That’s how you lose weight, Joey! Moderation. You can moderate bad foods so to speak, or you can moderate good foods. It all comes down to moderation one way or the other.

  5. Oh WOW. I just found your site and You are doing so great! What a motivation!!!!
    Yes, definitly start buying the taco seasoning seperate, i would think they would be close to where you found the kits… Here is a recipe tha I got off another blog, I guess it is a Weight Watchers recipe and I LOVE it. it is low calorie but I’m guessing the sodium is very high. SUPER EASY to make.

    Taco Soup
    1 pound of lean ground beef or ground turkey
    Brown the meat, drain the fat.
    Return to the large pot and combine the following
    1 large can (32oz) of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
    1 Can of Rotel (generic is fine and this is right next to the canned tomatoes) Do not drain
    1 Can of Black Beans (Drain the beans)
    1 Can of Corn (Drain the corn)
    Add 1 packet of Ranch seasoning and 1 packet Taco Seasoning.
    ( I also added a rotel can full of water)
    Simmer for about an hour-
    (good crock pot recipe as long as you precook the meat and drain the fat before combining everything in the crock pot.)
    This is a WW recipe and 1 cup is very filling and low fat, low cal.
    It comes out more like a chili then a soup. It is So easy and So good! We have it with tortillas, but its good all bye itself!

    1. I was going to tell you the same thing! On the weekend just make the spices up for a large amount and use what you need during the week. I also get canned low sodium tomatoes mexican style and cook them in with the meat to get a really great taste. Great receipe!

    2. That’s good to know! There’s been times where we didn’t have the taco seasoning in the house and decided not to have tacos, simply because of that. I wasn’t sure how to spice it myself, but now I do. I appreciate it!

  6. Here’s a recipe to make your own at home. To cut down on time, I just make a big batch and keep it in a jar in the pantry. Tastes like the store version without leaving that greasy coating on your tongue. (and no MSG headaches if that’s an issue)

    Taco Seasoning:
    1 cup dried minced onion
    1/3 cup chili powder
    2 tablespoons cumin
    4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
    1 tablespoon oregano
    4 teaspoons garlic powder
    2 teaspoons onion powder

    Combine all ingredients and store in a cool, dry place.

    When you’re using for Mexican dishes, use about 1 tablespoon or so per 1 pound meat and/or beans.

  7. That looks scrumptious!

    From my perspective, I would say that a person probably eats better when they are on a diet or concentrating on their health.

    For me, I think food is more satisfying now than it was before. And I have tried to cut out a lot of fat, sugar and salt.


  8. While I commend your tremendous weight loss, I’m always baffled by the stuff you still put in your mouth. It seems you eat smaller portions, but a lot of your food still seems very unhealthy. It just seems like you’re doing your body a disservice in the long run by not making healthier choices. With all that said, I’m still a fan and you still are an inspiration to me. :D

    1. I really appreciate your comment DJ, and I’m glad you’re following a blog, but you’re misinformed on dietary issues. By a quick check on your blog, I saw one day where you consumed ONLY 588 calories. You are putting your body at an extreme risk and any doctor you find would immediately tell you to stop this incredibly ill-advised diet. At 600 calories a day, you are extremely malnourished and doing permanent harm to your body.

    2. I agree with Tyler, I find I can eat WHATEVER I want as long as it’s within my calorie intake per day.

      That means I eat salty snacks sometimes, chocolate, pizza, hamburgers, whatever as long it doesn’t go over my calorie intake per day.

      The good thing about this diet is I automatically start eating BETTER because of it, and I’m sure Tyler does something similar. :)

  9. Taco Salads are one of my favorite meals, tasty and easy. I’m a long haul trucker so I only have access to my kitchen at home about once a month…so I make up a big batch of taco meat, portion them in single servings and freeze. When I eat, I pick up a basic cheap garden salad at a fast food place, heat up a taco meat packet, add fat free sour cream, shredded sharp cheese(a little goes a long way taste wise) and a salsa.
    When making the taco meat, I drain and even rinse the cooked ground beef in hot water before I add the spices. I read in several pdf files on the internet that this drastically reduces the fat and calories yet there is only a minimal reduction in flavor. I then add additional things such as fat free refried beans or kidneys beans.

    1. Wendy’s actually has a taco salad that tastes really delicious. I don’t tend to go to fast food anymore, but if I don’t have anytime and I’m on the road Wendy’s has a very, very delicious salad. I know that doesn’t help you as you’re on the road and hardly want to pay $5 every time you eat, but it’s pretty much the same thing — they give you the chilly, toppings, and salad all separate and you get to combine your own taco while you’re on the road.

  10. Looks tasty! The other thing I like is that you can add almost as much lettuce and veggies as you want, and you only get a minimal increase in calories!

  11. Don’t buy the kit for the seasoning. Sam’s Club, Costco, etc…. has large containers of the seasoning for $6-$7. Much cheaper than buying the kits or even per loose package.

  12. Tyler,
    I have been following your progress and you have a LOT to be proud of. I, too, have been on an aggressive plan to lower my weight (over 100lbs since April 2009) but more importantly to improve my lipids and blood pressure. I follow a very different approach from yours (I use the Weight Watchers program) that is more concerned with changing your eating behavior into something that you can follow forever and improve your health.

    It is NOT all about simply calories – that is one piece of the puzzle. The recipe you listed is absolutely godawful – this one serving EXCEEDS the recommended daily sodium allowance. You simply can’t watch calories and excercise away the “bad stuff” that you eat. If you want to sustain your weight loss along with maintaining excellent health, you are going to need to seriously address what you are eating.

    1. Hey Jeff- Although I’m not Tyler, I thought I’d chime in. I think that the most important thing to do is find something that works for you. I’m not sure if you’d find the same amazing success you have if you had followed the same “plan” that Tyler does. And I’m not sure if Tyler would have had his same great run if he was on Weight Watchers. It’s all about finding something you can consistently do (because the plan can be great, but if you don’t follow it on actually do it, you won’t find much success at all). And for Tyler this is what has worked.

      Although I don’t think I’d follow his diet (and he never suggests that anyone should), losing weight is always a good thing. I guess you could look at it this way: before, he had a diet of unheatlthy ingredients and quantity. First he changed the quantity, and he’s been working on the quality, too–just look at how his food choices have changed. And who’s to say it won’t change again? I’m sure if he needs to change things up, and adjust his diet, he won’t hesitate.

      Again, though, congrats on your own success so far! If you have a blog, it would be great to follow.

      (Hope I didn’t speak out of turn, Tyler!)

  13. There are lots of great comments here and I thought I would jump in with my own. It is possible to take a recipe like Tylers and modify it to suit your tastes and nutirtional goals. For example, I changed the ground beef to ground turkey and replaced regular salsa with low sodium salsa (manufactures put in WAY more salt than you ever would…) and ended up with a dish that will still taste very good and has lower fat and MUCH lower sodium. Here is a link to the new recipe: http://www.papayahead.com/recipe_data.php?fromsearch=yes&targRecipe=6348
    The point is: having a tool like PapayaHead can arm you with the facts to make informed choices. And to Tylers point, you will find that you can eat lot’s of stuff you enjoy – and be eating well.

  14. We eat taco salad over here too. Great, quick, easy, and tasty meal. I think it’s great what you are doing. Also, don’t worry about the critism. Obviously what you are doing is working so who cares about the critics, right? :-)

  15. Someone mentioned this but its worth mentioning it again. Sometimes I have to “hide” veggies so my hubby will eat them and taco meat is the perfect place to hide them. Either dump the can in if you don’t mind chunky or puree a can of Rotel tomatoes (they come in different mexican flavors – mild, hot, cilantro, etc) and mix it with the meat and its soooooo good. If you wanted to save yourself the sodium of the taco seasoning you could skip it and just do the tomatoes (just as flavorful!)

  16. Tyler, taco salad is one of my standard Friday night meals. I have a meal heavy on the salad, while my grown sons & husband have combo burritos with a side salad. Everybody fixes their own out of the ingredients I set out on the table.
    Please don’t quit posting recipes because of the negative comments. I love your blog because are a real guy with a busy life and family. You are succeeding at a very difficult task and letting us walk with you.

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