How to Make a Salad – Tips to Make Salad Prep Easy

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I know what you are thinking, “everyone knows how to make a salad – this is the most ridiculous post ever”.

But don’t be so quick to judge!

If your trips to the produce section wind up in your kitchen trashcan more often than they do on your plate – then you might know how to make a salad in theory but you aren’t putting it into practice.

So, let’s talk about ways to reverse that trend, and get those vegetables out of your fridge and into your meals.

The Best Salad Recipe

The best thing about salads is their flexibility. You can throw just about anything together and it becomes a salad.

Merriam Webster defines salad as various cold dishes often made with raw greens or small bits of food and often mixed with a dressing.

You can do an internet search for salad recipes and you will find millions of them – and they all look amazing. Many feature garden fresh vegetables and homemade salad dressings. Watching salad videos on TikTok or looking at salad pictures on Pinterest is the best kind of motivation.

They say that the road to he** is paved with good intentions – and that has never been more true than when it comes to salad prep.

After seeing great looking people eating fresh, crispy salads – you head to the grocery store and practically buy out the entire produce section – only to get home and let everything go to rot in your refrigerator.

Because, the thing is, making a salad recipe takes time and eating a salad takes time too. It is far easier to slather some peanut butter and jelly on bread and scarf down a sandwich than it is to cut vegetables and blend your own dressing.

So, the point I am making here, is that the BEST salad recipe is the one you will actually make and eat.

And usually, it turns out to not be a “real” recipe at all, but rather a combination of ingredients that you already have on hand – something that you can just throw together without having to measure ingredients and follow step by step instructions. The easier the better.

How to Make a Salad That You Will Like

There are several ways to create salad recipes that you will make often.

Toss Up What You Like

The simplest thing to do is toss together with what you like.

Pick your greens – spinach, kale, iceberg, spring mix – whatever you are more likely to eat, that is the one get.

Pick a few vegetables to go with – any of these will do: carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, onion.

Choose some toppings – cheeses (feta, gorgonzola, grated cheddar etc), nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, dried cranberries, croutons, pasta, olives – you can get creative with this!

Your favorite dressing – oil and vinegar, italian, ranch, etc.

Copy A Salad You Love

Another way to create a salad that you will like to eat is to copy either a store bought or restaurant salad that you really love.

For example, a few years ago there was a local supermarket that sold a prepared mango walnut salad on romaine lettuce that I adored. It had just a few ingredients and was very easy to recreate at home.

Another time, I had lunch at a friend’s home and she made a delicious salad with roasted butternut squash on a bed of spinach that I now make on a regular basis.

Buy It Ready Made

A ready made salad may not be as fresh or healthy as one that you make at home – but if the purpose of you eating more salad is to incorporate more vegetables in your diet, then a store bought salad is probably a better choice than a fast food burger or chicken nuggets and fries.

So, if you don’t have time to make it at home, buy one ready made – just be mindful of the ingredients.

Shortcuts to Make Salad Prep Easier

The biggest obstacle to making a salad is the time that it takes to make it.

If you wait until you are hungry to get started with salad prep then you won’t have the patience to put in the effort to make a salad because you will be starving! Instead, you will opt for something quick.

Prep Ahead of Time

The key here is to do as much prep as you can ahead of time, preferably when you are not hungry.

Chopped vegetables, if properly stored in the refrigerator, can stay fresh for a few days – so you can batch prep a couple days worth of salads.

I like to chop romaine lettuce, cut up cucumbers, cut bell pepper strips, and shred carrots in advance. I store each item individually in clear Rubbermaid Brilliance food storage containers (so I can easily see the contents).

You can also make hard boiled eggs ahead of time, open and rinse a can of chick peas, and chop any meats that you want to add to your salad.

Make Use of Leftovers

Another way to make salad prep easier is to use up your dinner leftovers.

Dishes like roasted vegetables, pasta, grilled chicken, steak, falafels, taco meat, and even refried beans make great additions to any salad.

Buy Ready-To-Eat Ingredients

I will often buy boxes of spring mix, bags of chopped romaine, broccoli slaw, bags of shredded carrots, already crumbled feta or gorgonzola, and cubed butternut squash, in order to make salad prep even easier.

As for toppings, I recently discovered these snack packs of mixed sunflower seeds, pepitas, nuts, and dried cranberries, amongst other things. One pack is perfect to add to as toppings for a salad. (They also make for great road trip snacks, too!)

Use a Salad Container for Lunch On the Go

It is one thing to make a salad when you are at home – but it is definitely trickier when you are on the go.

The way to manage this is to have containers at the ready, so your salad is ready to go when you are.

I typically will save take out containers to pack my salads. But these Bentgo containers that have separate compartments for different ingredients and a small bowl with lid for your salad dressing make taking a salad with you even more convenient.

What Salad Making Tips Can You Share?

I try to add as many fruits and vegetables as possible into what I eat each day.

But I also am a bit lazy, so for me to stick with it, I have to make salad prep as easy as possible.

I do this by prepping ahead of time, taking shortcuts, and making sure my salad is ready when hunger strikes.

Share your salad making tips in the comments below.

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