Planning ahead is key to eating healthy. If the good food is easy to grab and eat you are more likely to actually eat it. This time of year we are blessed to have an abundance of farmers markets and fresh in season local produce. In the summer months the yang energy is in full force which makes it a time of warmth and movement. Our diet should also follow along with this energetic shift and we can eat more fresh and raw food (which is good because who wants to turn on the oven when it’s hot out!)
This time of year I enjoy a salad everyday, but the same old salad of some lettuce and carrots can get old quick. Over time I have perfected my routine of preparing salads to make them easy to grab and different each day to keep my taste buds happy.
When prepping salads I make enough for 3-4 days at a time. This saves time but also make sure that the salads are eaten before they start to lose their freshness.
So what I do is, when I get home from the farmer’s market or grocery with all my produce I prepare it before it even goes into the refrigerator.
The base of my salads for the next 4 days will be the same, then on the day I eat the salad I will add a variety of veggies or protein to “doctor” it up for the day. This is where I can change it up so I don’t feel like I am eating the same thing everyday.
The base salad is a mix of lettuce and greens and then some harty root vegetables. Pick 1 lettuce (what ever looked the best to you at the store) and you can changes this for every batch of premade salads. Of lettuces, you can use romaine, red or green leaf, spring mix, butter leaf.
Next pick a green leafy vegetable such as kale, swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens, etc. Then add some color to the salad like carrots, green or red cabbage, and radishes.
To prepare your salads put out 3-4 containers. I use glass snapware container like these.
Wash and chop lettuces and other greens. Use a salad spinner to get out extra water and moisture.
Note: For things like kale and swiss chard, I destem them and only use the greens because I don’t like the bitter taste of the stems, but if you like them go for it.
Evenly distribute the ingredients to each bowl. For 4 salads usually one head of lettuce, half a bunch of kale, a quarter of a head of cabbage, about 8 radishes, and 4 carrots or 8-10 mini carrots works pretty well. My favorite measurement of a handful of each seems to work pretty well. The more ingredients you use a smaller handful of each. Make sure you leave room in the top to add more perishable items on the day you eat the salad.
There you go, 4 base salads ready to be put in the fridge for the next 4 days lunches. If you are making salads for more than just one person you can add containers as you need. Sometimes, while I am at it, I will also make a big salad to have in the fridge for dinner and for the kids to snack on when needed.
In the morning when I am making breakfast I pull out one of my pre-made base salads and add the daily additions so I will have lunch ready to go. Day of additions are things that go bad a little quicker but are so yummy and great on salad. Like I said this is where you can change things up so you don’t get bored. A quarter of an avocado, a ounce of goat cheese, pickled beets, strawberries, raspberries, chopped nuts, greek or green olives, etc. I also utilize leftovers if I have them. Things like last night’s leftover roasted chicken can be chopped up and put on the salad, or leftover steamed veggies broccoli, sweet potato, etc.
Dressing the salad: I also have started making my own homemade salad dressings because the store bought ones are always loaded with things you don’t need like sugar, soy, canola oil, and who knows what else. I will make a future post to share some of my go to salad dressing recipes.
BASE INGREDIENTS: a lettuce then 3-4 others
Lettuces: Romaine, Red or Green Leaf, Butter Leaf, Mesclun (baby greens), Arugula
Dandelion greens, Swiss Chard, Kale, Mustard Greens, Cilantro
Red or Green Cabbage
DAY OF INGREDIENTS: pick as many as you like
Raspberry, Strawberries, Blueberries, Cherries
Hearts of palm
All types, Black, Green, Greek
Left-over steamed vegetables:
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Sweet Potato or other root vegetables
Roasted Chicken, Fish, Hard Boiled Eggs
Walnuts, Pecans, Pistachios, Coconut, Hazelnuts, Hemp Hearts
There you go, everything you need to make healthy meal easy to grab and go. Let me know what you are adding to your salad and how the prep is working out for you!