When I visit my mother’s house, she always asks if I want a salad at lunch.  My usual response is: Yes, if you are already making one.  Then I watch her lug out all the ingredients to be washed, peeled, cut, and distributed into individual bowls.  It makes me think, “Ugh! This is why I never make salads.  Who wants to do this every day?”

Then later, I made salads for dinner parties and realized the leftovers stayed fresh for several days.  Why not just make a big salad once a week?  Now I do, pretty much every week there isn’t frost. (I can’t get into eating a salad looking out the window at snow).  I know its not a revolutionary idea, but it has made a huge difference in my house.  When you’re like me and can’t eat sandwiches, frozen dinners, or canned soup, your lunch options are pretty limited.  Having a salad waiting in the fridge every day has made a huge improvement in my lunches.

My Base Salad:

  • Small head Romain of lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot – shredded
  • Pepper
  • Small head of broccoli
  • Sometimes a couple handfuls of kale or baby spinach

My basic rule is that the base salad only gets items which will keep well all week.  They can’t be something that will brown fast like avocado, leak like tomatoes or get slimy like cheese.

Each day, I take a serving of the base salad, and then I add to it.

My favorite add-ons:

  • Variety of dressings
  • Left over meats from dinner – chicken breast, steak, Italian sausage, etc.
  • Tuna
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pickles

Of course there are many other items you can add on including nuts, fruit, eggs, tofu, seeds, and other vegetables.  I can not eat most gluten containing grains, so those are never on my personal list, but I know there is a wide world of croutons out there.

Five Great Things about having a Base Salad in Your Fridge:

  1. The base salad allows me to make a healthy lunch quickly.  Being busy with the kids lunches, or tired after finally getting them down for nap, is no excuse when its already 90% made.
  2. It makes packing a lunch fast.  I just put the base salad in a travel container, maybe throw in a couple other ingredients, put my dressing in a small container, and seal the container.  But don’t forget to pack a fork!
  3. A base salad like the one described above is wheat / gluten, diary, egg, and nut free.  So, if you entertain, you can serve it in a large bowl with any allergen containing toppings safely contained on the side.
  4. It makes a fast veggie side at dinner when your first plan falls threw (or there was no plan!).
  5. If you’re like me, once its made and staring at you on the fridge shelf, instead of hiding in the crisper drawers, you are more likely to eat your produce before it goes bad.