Prep salads for the week in just one afternoon and your weekday lunches will be a breeze. No more standing in front of the fridge wondering what you’ll take to work. And no more pushing yourself to put together something for tomorrow at the end of a long day.
You will be armed and ready to start your work week with a plan for good clean eating in place. And you will feel better for it.
And if you treat yourself to take out one afternoon instead of eating your salad, you can come home and serve it for dinner. There’s nothing better than walking into a kitchen where dinner is already prepared after a long day at work!
Can I prep salads for a full week?
The ability to prep salads and have the ingredients remain fresh for a full week is really area specific.
No matter where you live, when you are able to source fresh from the garden veggies you will definitely be able to prep salads for the week.
But during the off season you’re veggies will not likely last that long. I live in one of those areas and so I only prepare 3-5 days worth of ingredients to be used in salads throughout the week.
When I lived in California where I was able to source fresh veggies almost year round, I could prep for a full week. In areas like that where fresh veggies are almost always available even the veggies in the store are fresher, as they are not trucked around the country to get there.
What ingredients can I use to prep salads?
The list of ingredients you can use to prep your salads is seemingly endless. Choose those that you like and create your own personal list in your phone so that you have it when you are shopping.
All of the following ingredients work well …
PROTEINS: Chicken, Tuna, Shrimp, Turkey, Steak, Bacon, Hard boiled eggs
CHEESE: Parmesan, Monterey jack, Blue cheese, Cheddar, Feta
VEGGIES: Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Beet greens, Carrots, Celery, Broccoli, Red cabbage, Beets, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Corn, Radishes, Onions, Bell peppers, Avocados, Mushrooms
BEANS: Kidney, Black, Cannellini, Chickpea, Lentil
NUTS/SEEDS: Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Sunflower, Sesame, Pumpkin
FRUIT: Apples, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Pomegranates, Oranges, Pears
CANNED: Hot peppers, Sweet peppers, Black olives, Spanish olives, Artichoke hearts
HERBS: Oregano, Dill, Basil, Chives
OTHER: Croutons, Salsa, Pickled Onions
How to prep salads for the week
Prepping salads is about as simple as it gets. If you have a cutting board, a knife, and plenty of ingredients you are ready to go.
I also like to use my food processor to grate the vegetables I prefer that way, things like; red cabbage and carrots.
It is a good idea to pick up the vegetables that are least expensive that week. Whether you do this in a grocery store or at your local farm stand (which is where you will find the least contaminated and highest quality) the vegetables that are cheapest that week will undoubtedly be those that are in peak season.
Eating peak season vegetables helps to keep your body attuned to the natural cycles of nature, which benefits not only your body but your mind and soul as well.
Prep your proteins
Choose the proteins you are going to use for your salads throughout the week and cook them according to your preference.
If you usually have leftover proteins from your evening dinner, you can simply plan to take those along with you during the week.
I find that for me it is generally a safe bet to cook off some chicken strips to have on hand.
Prep your cheese
You can purchase already shredded cheese if you like. But there are significant benefits to purchasing it in blocks, chunks, and wedges and then preparing it yourself.
First, it will save you money. Shredded cheese is more expensive as the producers charge you for the manpower it takes to shred it.
Second, it will help to reduce some of the unnecessary, unhealthy ingredients that are way too big a part of the American diet nowadays.
All of that shredded cheese in that bag does not remain clump free naturally. It is treated with anit-caking agents, YUCK!
Prep your vegetables
Slice, cut, chop, and shred your veggies however you like them prepared.
Don’t be afraid to go a little overboard here. It is nice to have extra vegetables in your salad and it is good for you to eat a large variety of them as well.
Also, later in the post I’m going to tell you what to do with the extra if you find you have too many. And you just might decide that you want to have too many *wink, wink*!
Prep your fruits
All of your fruits can be washed, that’s simple enough.
But other than that there is not much you can do to prep them. If you cut them up they will not last more than a day. Some will not even last that long.
Do gather them all in one place though so it is easy to grab some and go. You can cut them up and put them on your salad just before you eat it for lunch.
Also gather your nuts/seeds, your herbs, and other miscellaneous items that you will be using throughout the week. Having them in one place will make it much more likely that you will use them for sure.
Prep your beans and canned items
Always drain and wash any beans you will be using throughout the week. Otherwise they will not get done in the morning and you will miss out on all that nutritious goodness.
Besides, they are delicious and you want to have them in your salad.
Most canned items can be drained ahead of time as well. And the same applies to them, if you don’t prep them ahead, you will probably not take advantage of having them to add variety to your lunches.
How to store the ingredients I prep for salads
It works best to store your lettuce in it’s own large container. It tends to be the star of the show and needs the most space. Additionally, it will get soggy pretty quickly if you store it with other items that contain moisture.
All of your veggies can go in one container. It is up to your discretion if you include the tomatoes or allow them their own space. They have a high water content and will leach water into the container without a doubt.
Proteins can be stored together in one container. Cheeses can go in their own container. And beans and canned items will do well in a container of their own as well.
All other ingredients should be kept in an easily accessible space so that they can be grabbed quickly in the morning.
Some of the fruit will have to be kept in the refrigerator. But all of the dry items can be kept in their own cupboard space.
However you do it … prep as much as you can and make sure you can easily grab the rest!
What to do if my prepped salad ingredients start to look as though they won’t be fresh much longer
If at any point your ingredients start to look a little worse for the wear, don’t fret all is not lost.
You can sautee them all together in your favorite pan, toss them in your favorite sauce, and serve them over rice, rice noodles, or pasta.
This is often a welcome relief from the deciding what to make for dinner thing in my house. Everything is ready to go and it just takes a few minutes to whip it all together.
Make a balsamic vinaigrette right on top of my salad
Throwing together a simple balsamic vinaigrette right on top of your salad is a great way to go.
If you are taking this salad to work and do not have a place there to keep your vinaigrette ingredients it may not work as well for you most of the time.
BUT in that case, do make sure you try this tasty dressing one night at home. It’s not something you want to miss out on completely.
To make it … simply drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top of your salad. Pour a generous amount of balsamic dressing on top as well.
Squeeze half a lemon through a mesh colander, to collect the seeds, directly onto your salad. And then top with a generous pinch of coarsely ground pepper and fresh/dried basil to taste. Be generous with the basil as well. Trust me on this!
If you’re inclined you can add some salt. I don’t find it necessary. But once you’ve given your salad a taste you can decide for yourself.
It would be great to hear about any tips or tricks you may have for me to use when prepping my salads for the week. I’ll be at it all summer long!
So let’s meet in the comments and chat all about it!
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