Our “Great Salad Challenge” is still underway on facebook! A few days ago we saw this GREAT idea by E2-er Karen, and we asked her to write about it.
A few months ago, we visited a Whole Foods & loaded up on garden fresh goodness from the salad bar. My husband & I both remarked at how much we enjoy having so many choices to create unique, tasty salads and that we should try to incorporate a system at home that would give us a similar variety. As a busy working mother of two teenage boys, I am not new to pre-prepping and preparing planned leftovers, it is a lifesaver!
I have tried plastic bags and storage containers on their own, only to be frustrated by the un-organization of the fridge and more frustrated at the containers of spoiled, mushy food thrown out at the end of the week. The real issue seemed to be from fridge to counter and back in an organized way that the whole family could figure out.
I started with 2 heavy weight cookie sheets with handles, that I picked up for under $10 each. While at the store, I fit the cookie sheet with inexpensive bpa free plastic containers. Each weekend, we invest a small amount of time gathering our favorite healthy foods. This typically includes a trip to the farmer’s market, our local health food store and a quick harvest from our backyard garden. We spend an hour or so prepping our veggies and cooking our grains/starches and legumes/lentils of choice. One tray is filled with the proteins, starches, nuts and seeds. The other with our fresh prepped salad veggies.
The third baking sheet I use is a mini individual loaf pan, similar to a muffin pan. This one gets filled with diced fresh fruits & dried fruits. For dressings, we keep a variety of flavored vinegars on hand. Some are sweet, such as cranberry pear & some are savory or spicy. We like creamy dressings, so I will add a tbsp of unflavored, unsweetened coconut creamer (zero fat, zero sugar) to the vinegar with a sprinkle of chia seeds to thicken it all up.
The trays stack together and fit neatly on the bottom shelf of the fridge next to the boxed salad greens. At meal time or lunch packing time, we pull out all the trays, pop off the lids & build our meals. This has made meal prep in our house so simple for every meal, it’s been foolproof!
Here are a few of our favorite ways to use our home salad bar:
- Fresh & dried fruit tray- the perfect topper for morning oats, pancakes & french toast, as well as blended veggie/fruit smoothies.
- Wraps & sandwiches- whole grain tortillas or bread, topped with hummus & sliced fresh veggies.
- Bowls- Grains, veggies, beans, sauce
- PIzzas- tortillas or frozen pizza crust, sauce & loads of fresh veggies, tossed on the grill for a few minutes.
- Stir Fries- Toss veggies in a pan, add sauce & serve over whole grain of choice.
- Casseroles- Enchiladas, lasagna’s or shepherds pie.
- Soups- Kitchen Sink Soup. At the end of the week, I fill a stockpot with a few cups of broth,a can of tomatoes, spices, add all the veggies, grains & beans that are left & end up with a delicous soup & no waste!
List of supplies to create your own home salad bar:
- heavy weight, rimmed cookie sheets-be sure to measure the depth & width of the shelf you are using
- storage containers to fit snugly on cookie sheets
- your favorite fresh veggies, sliced & diced to your liking
- your favorite legumes/lentils, grains/starches, cooked to your liking
- your favorite fresh & dried fruits, diced/sliced nuts & seeds
- your favorite greens, pre bagged/boxed or washed & torn yourself
I hope these ideas help you prepare quick, stress-free, delicous & plant-strong meals for you & your family!
We’d love to see your home salad bars! Post your photos of your home salad bars to our Facebook page!
What will go in your salad bar?