How to Meal Prep Salads and Keep Them Fresh

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Tuesday August 4, 2020

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You have a salad recipe that you want to make for the week. How do you make sure each bite stays fresh and flavorful? With a few quick tricks, you can conquer salad meal prep with ease. Soon enough, you’ll be able to enjoy tasty greens and vegetables every day if you so desire.

Here’s how to meal prep salads and keep them fresh.

Assemble, Wash, and Dry Greens

You probably already do this step, but it may be beneficial to adjust your routine slightly. Chop up any leaf lettuces that you want to use for your salads. Feel free to try a few different greens for the same salad — spinach and arugula pair together wonderfully. Then use a salad spinner or large colander to rinse them thoroughly. If you buy pre-washed, pre-cut versions, you won’t have to follow this step.

Spread out a few paper towels on your countertop. Place the freshly washed greens on top so that the paper towels can absorb all the excess water. Let them dry completely as you prepare the other ingredients.

Season and Cook Protein Options

It’s time to cook and portion the protein. Whether you enjoy steak, egg, or chicken, you’ll want to add this ingredient last so that the other components aren’t soggy. There are many yummy protein-rich foods that work well with greens. If you want to try a vegan salad, try tofu or chickpeas.

Grab your meal prep containers after you’ve seasoned and cooked the meat or substitute. Place a decent amount into each box so that you have enough for every meal. A mason jar can be an effective container for salad meal prep because they’re narrow enough for the layers to stay fresh. If you’d like to add cheese, sprinkle some on top.

Chop Hard and Soft Vegetables

If you want to incorporate a grain like rice or quinoa, it’s best to do so before this step. If not, you’ll move forward with the vegetables. You won’t always be able to create a succinct layer, so try your best. You can’t mess up!

Start with the hard veggies. These options may include carrots, peppers, or broccoli — any vegetable that’s sturdy and crunchy. Clean and cut the hard vegetables and add them to the containers. Then, grab the softer ones, like tomatoes and cucumbers. Do the same for these ingredients before you place them inside the containers.

Don’t worry about whether the produce will spoil. If the containers are airtight, everything will last for a few days without any problems.

Add Greens and Extra Toppings

Now, you can add the previously washed and dried greens to the containers. They should be the last step so that no other moisture affects them. You can also sprinkle some seeds or nuts on top if you want a nutritious crunch. Any dry, crispy toppings should be included as the very last layer so that they don’t become soggy.

Then you’ll want to prepare your salad dressing. Whatever you choose, it’s key to keep your dressing separate from the salad. Use small reusable containers to portion enough dressing for each day. Feel free to pack the bottle with your lunch box if you don’t want to use individual containers.

Keeping Your Meal Prep Salads Fresh 

You have several options for keeping your salad fresh. If you rinsed and thoroughly dried your greens with a salad spinner, they will stay fresh in a mason jar — if you don’t put oil and vinegar on top. If you want to layer one to cart to the office, put the dressing on the bottom before adding any other ingredients. 

Another method for keeping things fresher is to push them further back in your refrigerator. While storing them in the door makes for a tidy row of jars, this part of your fridge gets exposed to warm air every time you open the door. Many people also make this mistake with eggs — the things you need to keep coldest belong in the back. 

If you have sufficient spending cash, invest in a dehumidifier for your refrigerator. These devices contain minerals that remove ethylene gas buildup from vegetables and fruits, slowing the decaying process. It also absorbs moisture and odor — no more fishy taste spreading to your egg salad from your tuna. 

Tips for Upgrading Your Salad 

While salads are delicious and nourishing, eating nothing but greens can bore your taste buds after a while. If you want to make your salad meal prep worthy of a gourmet restaurant, go a little crazy. 

Do you like it hot? If you can find them in stores, a freshly chopped Manzano pepper adds a sweet heat that tops jalapenos on the Scoville scale. Maybe you don’t care for full-on nose sweats? Mrs. Dash makes a wide array of salad spice blends from mild to slightly wild. Combine spicy and sugary tastes by adding a handful of dried cranberries. 

Store-bought dressings can contain tons of additives and excess sugar. Make a healthier version at home — all you need is balsamic vinegar, Greek yogurt, a touch of olive oil and your favorite herbs. You can blend it as part of your prep work — fresh oregano and basil will infuse the mixture as it sits in your fridge. 

Unique Recipes for Fresh Salads

Are you stuck on ideas for which salads to make? The following salad recipes should bring your creativity to life:

  • Italian orzo salad: Orzo looks like barley, but it’s a type of pasta. However, its small size gives it an elegant presentation that elevates it over many backyard noodle sides. The chickpeas add filling protein.
  • Sesame chicken slaw: What’s slaw but a type of salad? The addition of chicken makes this dish filling and protein-rich. 
  • Beet and goat cheese salad: Goat cheese has a mild flavor, making it the ideal complement to tangy beets. Adding these root veggies to your diet can boost your immunity and improve liver health. 
  • Italian chopped salad: It’s rare to find a meal that’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and as flavor-packed as this recipe. Pine nuts add healthy fats that keep you fueled for longer. 
  • Fruit salad in a jar: There’s no rule that says your salad can’t be sweet. Your children will flip for this after-school treat, and you can feel good about serving it. 

Use These Tips to Create Delicious Make-Ahead Salads

The outcome when you use these steps should be a salad that stays fresh for days. Each layer serves a purpose! Always layer protein, grains, vegetables, greens, and toppings from the bottom up. Do you want more enticing tips and recipes? Please subscribe to our blog’s newsletter for healthy meal advice and the latest fit living news. 

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