Opening a refrigerator to drawers full of uncooked Brussels sprouts and half-empty jars of pasta sauce is not ideal at 8 p.m. on a weeknight, so training myself to meal prep a salad on Sunday nights has made it possible for me to eat a normal meal when I get home, instead of toast with peanut butter.
The trick is to dedicate one half of a fridge shelf to salad and store its components alongside one another for the week ahead. Since I started prepping this way, salad has become an absolute dinner staple: simple enough to make again and again, and generous enough to gracefully absorb all kinds of ingredients you may have on hand, from avocados to green beans to crispy fried eggs.
Wash and dry some greens, and store them in a large bowl. Arugula, my leaf of choice, is sturdy enough to store in the fridge for quite a while. I begin by cleaning it in a salad spinner and drying it well. A layer of paper towels at the bottom of a large container is useful for keeping it fresh. If I know I’m going to eat it all within a few days, I’ll mix some beans straight into the bowl of greens, too—Rancho Gordo flageolet beans are excellent, but rinsed canned chickpeas also work beautifully.
From there, my salads start to vary, depending on my mood that week. I almost always keep Kalamata olives, avocado, and pepitas (quickly toasted in a pan on the stove when I rinse my greens) on hand, along with an herb of some kind, preferably dill, which I also pre-rinse, pre-chop, and pack in a jar.
In the winter months, I’m all about roasted vegetables: parsnips and beets, chopped and roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little curry powder and turmeric. They add some real heft to the salad, and they keep well in the fridge, too. If you’re in a hurry, thinly sliced raw beets and even some crispy raw cauliflower florets are great additions. Grapefruit supremes are also a fixture on my salad shelf when it’s cold outside. If it’s summer, I add cherry tomatoes, and I often blanch and chop some green beans to store in a container beside my salad. Get creative—this is a great way to keep your salads interesting and varied all week.
Your dressing can vary as well, but generally, I combine two parts olive oil with one part red wine vinegar in a Ball jar, along with a bit of coarse-grain mustard, Parmesan, thinly sliced shallots, and salt and pepper. Of course, you can make this dressing well in advance, customize your own, or try a different dressing every week.
Once I’ve assembled the salad of the day, I liven it up with salt, lots of black pepper, and sometimes Sriracha. For dinner, I finish it off with two fried eggs right on top and a side of very buttery toast.
What are some salad storage tips you've found helpful? Let us know in the comments!