Salad to go

Salad is a quick to prepare, easy lunch whether you’re taking it to work, going on a picnic or staying at home.

Save money and time by making your own salad to go.

Save money and time by making your own salad to go.

Whether you’re checking social media or talking to a friends, the latest food-fad is “salad to go.” This is a salad packed in a container that you’ve prepared at home, shake before eating to distribute the salad dressing, then enjoy eating. They’re easy to put together, cost less than purchased salads and are taste satisfying because you make them yourself, using your favorite ingredients. Another advantage is that you can prepare two or three salads at a time and have a meal ready to grab-and-go.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these steps for your salad to go:

  1. Choose a container that lets you shake the salad. This can be a quart jar, food storage container, or a food storage bag. I like to use quart sized food storage containers with screw on lids. That way there is room for lots of greens, mixed veggies, protein and dressing in the bottom.
  2. To start: Put a serving of salad dressing on the bottom of the container. For most salad dressings, this will be about two tablespoons.
  3. Chop an assortment of vegetables. Good options are sliced red or green onion, carrots, radishes, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers of all colors, celery and peas. Firm fruits like diced apples or pear add extra flavor and crunchiness. About one-third of your container should be chopped vegetables.
  4. Next, add a layer of protein. You want the protein on top of the veggies to prevent it from getting soggy by lying in the salad dressing. Popular protein choices include chicken, turkey, lean ham or beef, canned tuna or salmon, hard-cooked eggs and my favorite—beans. Beans add protein at very little cost, are low in fat and are a great source of fiber.
  5. You can also add seeds and nuts for extra protein, although use them sparingly as they are high in fat. Great options include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts or cashews.
  6. If adding berries to your salad, add them at this point of the process.
  7. Finally, fill the rest of your container with salad greens. At least half of your container should be filled with greens. Try a variety of greens like spinach, romaine or leaf lettuce. These greens are a good source of nutrients including vitamins A and C, iron, folic acid and calcium. Try not to use iceberg lettuce as it is low in nutrients.
  8. Place the lid on or zip the bag and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to leave. If your trip takes longer than one hour, put your salad in an insulated bag or pack with an ice pack.

Having all of your vegetables and protein prepped in advance will save you time when you assemble your salads. Now you’re all set for your lunch or picnic. All you need for a tasty meal is to shake that jar, open and enjoy!

For other ideas on healthy, nutritious meals and food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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