Death to Soggy Salads: How to Pack Salads That Stay Fresh All Week
You probably picked up on it by now: I'm all about saving time and money while eating well. In just a few weekend hours (or less!), you can set yourself up with a week of seriously delicious salads, ready to grab and go. But that prep work is useless if, by Tuesday, they’ve turned to the dreaded soggy salad. I'm here to make sure Friday’s salad screams #friyay by staying just as fresh as Monday’s. Here’s how:
Choose Your Container Wisely
In the salad world, there is nothing worse than a lunch that spills all over your bag. And after my fair share of tests (and “dressed” purses), we have our favorites. For glass containers, I recommend these Glasslock meal prep containers. They are airtight, leak-proof, BPA-free, dishwasher/microwave/oven safe, easily fit into a lunchbox, and stack nicely in the fridge. Since these containers are horizontal, I recommend packing your dressing separately in something like these dressing containers. Keeping the dressing from touching the greens is the key to keeping your salad crisp.
On a budget? I recommend the over-Pinterested mason jar approach. They are cheap and they work. You can even pack your dressing into the jar with the salad. Just remember to keep them upright so the dressing is kept away from the greens. If you’re going this route, we like wide-mouth quart sized jars with Tulid leakproof mason jar lids. Though rare, I have experienced some slight spillage with the standard mason jar lids but none with the Tulid lids.
Prep Your Ingredients
To move quickly through this process, get everything ready. Chop your veggies, batch-cook some proteins and grains, and prep your salad greens.
Embrace the Layers
Ready, get set, layer! Along with storing them in the airtight containers above, the key to keeping salad greens light and crisp all week is to keep them protected from the dressing until you’re ready to dig in. This layering sequence ensures that the greens are kept safe. In each container, follow these steps, working from the bottom, up:
- START WITH THE DRESSING
Pour 2-4 tablespoons of dressing, depending on preference, into the bottom of the jar.
- ADD HARDER VEGGIES AND FRUITS
Think onions, radishes, red peppers, carrots, apples; anything that would taste good slightly “pickled” from the dressing.
- ADD BEANS, GRAINS, PASTA, OR NOODLES
Chickpeas, quinoa, rice. It all works.
- ADD COOKED PROTEIN AND CHEESES, IF USING
Need salad protein ideas? Check out my favorites here.
- ADD SALAD GREENS
I like about 2 cups per salad, packing them down slightly. You can use a pre-washed lettuce mix to save time or try one of our essential salad greens. Just make sure your greens are completely dry before packing (hello, salad spinner).
- ON THE DAY OF, ADD SOFTER FRUITS AND VEGGIES, ROASTED NUTS OR SEEDS, AND DRIED FRUIT
Since softer fruits and veggies bruise easily (like avocado and berries), wait until the day you’re planning to eat the salad to add them. So they don’t lose their crunchiness in the fridge, wait to add roasted nuts and seeds until the day of as well.
Shake the contents of the jar into a bowl and lightly toss with a fork. Feel fancy at work every day of the week.