Salads for the week: Making time for healthy eating

My salad with cheese!

After the birth of our baby Moshe 6 weeks ago, both Joshua and I got really motivated to start eating more healthy foods and less not-so-healthy foods. After giving birth, I finally got back on talking terms with our bathroom scale and faced the reality that my nursing baby needed me to be eating lots and lots of nutritious foods and my body needed me to seriously cut back on the desserts!

One of the ways we have incorporated more fresh veggies into our daily diet has been through lunchtime salads. Joshua takes a big salad to work for his lunch ("If that's all I have to eat, well, I'll eat it!"). I eat a big salad here at home for my lunch, taking bites in between changing diapers, washing little hands, nursing my baby, and rescuing children from disasters and emergencies.

Getting started on the salads

If I had to do up salads daily, or even a couple times a week, there's just no way I'd find the time for it. I mean really, a granola bar (or even a big bowl of homemade granola with milk!) is just a whole lot easier.

So to make salads easier, Joshua and I have been making up a week's supply on Sunday evenings. This has worked wonderfully! I have no excuse to not enjoy a big salad every day, and it's just so handy!

Washing lettuce

This week, Ruth (2) helped me in the kitchen as I made salads. Joshua had been to Costco earlier in the day, so we had plenty to work with!

We recently got a salad spinner, and I must say it is a nice tool to have! The lettuce and spinach leaves get nice and dry and the lettuce keeps a lot longer in the fridge. In the past, our salads were always turning brown after 2-3 days. Now, I can keep a container of salad for 5 days without it turning brown, and even longer some times! Oxidized lettuce isn't harmful to eat, but it's not fit to serve to company, and it's just not as pleasant or enjoyable. (We have this salad spinner, only in white, and we got it at Costco.)

Earthbound Farm carrots from Costco

I love the carrots from Costco: $5.29 for a ten-pound bag! Since they're organic, I usually just scrub the carrots rather than peeling them, so there is very little waste from this big bag. I shredded some for salads and cut some into sticks for the children. I also went ahead and diced some to cook later this week (along with peas) for the evening's cooked vegetable side dish.

Ruth with finished salads

Here is Ruth with all the finished salads! Yum!

Now... is there really room in the fridge for that many pounds of salad?!

All in the fridge!

Yes! There was just enough room. This very, very full fridge will be mostly emptied by next week's Costco trip!

Joshua's dressing to take to work

Joshua likes ranch salad dressing. We mix it with an equal part water, to make it easier to coat the lettuce (and cut down on calories!). These are the little containers of dressing he takes to work for his salad.

Joshua's container of salad

A colorful container of salad for Joshua's lunch! If he's adding chicken or boiled eggs, I send those along in a separate baggie.

If anyone has tips for making salads easier, I'd love to hear! I'll be sharing more healthy eating and menu tips as time allows! :)

Comments

great ideas. I see you don't mix the other veggies in right?

Yes! I think this way the carrots and celery don't all end up at the bottom of the bowl!

I layer the salads with Romaine first, then spinach, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers (if we have them). Tomatoes are added later (not refrigerated); same goes for cheese, croutons, boiled eggs, or cooked chicken -- it just depends on what we have on hand. :)

Our kitchen is construction zone right now. Seeing this post made me realize how much I miss it.

Now I'm really craving salad! Your salads are so colorful and fresh-looking! Yum :)

Here is an idea (not mine) for keeping lettuce fresh...maybe it would help save space in your fridge.

http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/skinny-secrets/salad-in-a-jar

that I could figure out some healthy meals that I can eat right now. My daughter is 2 1/2 weeks old, and seems to be very sensitive to what I eat. Unfortunately, she screams when I eat most fruits and veggies. I'm at a loss.

You are inspiring me to start eating healthier. You are so right in that granola and yogurt are so much easier to grab!
Suzanne - a long time lurker :)

I love your idea! I have been cutting all the little things (carrots/peppers/onions,etc) up at the beginning of the week and putting them in separate containers until it's time to serve them, but that's because we just have them at supper. This would help me eat salads for lunch when I'm at home with my daughter (9 months old).
My only concern is, does everything still seem fresh by Friday?
Thanks!

Yes, everything is still really fresh on Fridays! I do think one thing that helps maintain freshness is having the salads in individual containers, so we are not opening a container, taking some out, and putting it back (with "fresh" air in it).

Also, I tear the lettuce (rather than cutting with a knife) and tear fairly large pieces (still bite-sized but on the larger side) which means less bruising and fewer edges to be exposed to the air.

And, I think the salad spinner helps a lot, too! Joshua is kinda picky about lettuce not being oxidized, but even he hasn't complained/noticed anything! :)

This really is a wonderful way to save time on lunch and dinner prep, ensuring that you really do eat all of the healthy veggies in the house!

Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers

I have been doing this as well recently. But I still have a hard time keeping my lettuce fresh for a week. One thing I have learned is to take it from it original packaging and put it in something else. If I wash it first, I have a hard time keeping it though. Lettuce is so hard to work with.

I do keep my lettuce in separate containers - one for each day of the week to take to work for lunch. I also keep my veggie toppings separate as well because I like cucumbers which can be watery and make my lettuce nasty. But I just dump the two bowls together and toss. It's not too much hassle.

Sometimes I keep the lettuce in a separate container and just add the veggies to it at work on break. So you can say that I treat the veggies like she does the meats. Anyway once I've washed my lettuce I layer paper towels in the container with the lettuce to be sure they don't start to get yucky. If I had a salad spinner I wouldn't have to do that. You might try it.

When I was working I would make 2 or 3 days worth of salads they won't stay good till friday. I would put beans, canned peas and corn in mine and that could have been why. Annies naturals used to make a fat free yogurt dill dressing it tasted like full fat creamy dressing with only 20 cals per a serving, but they stoped making. one of these days I'm gonna try to recreate it.

I really liked this post alot.It is easy to go buy salads and that is a waste of money.I never thought of making individual ones.After seeing this post I went to the dollar store and got 6 small containers.I am not sure the size?It would equal a good size soup bowl maybe?I made them it is working great for us.I wait on the cheese and croutons until we are eating it hat day.I was thinking of making some chicken breasts and freeze each one seperate in the freezer but don't know if I want the extra calories.I do enjoy a bunch of veggies with out much dressing since the veggies make the salad moist enough and flavorful for me.Rick puts lots of dressing or vinegar on his.I was wonder you have 3 sizes of containers there.The small clear bowls are for Joshua's lunches?Then there is 2 black ones and 4 larger white bowls of salad.I was wondering was the white ones for meals at dinner time or is that for lunch too?They look like larger bowls or could be the angle when taking the picture.I was wondering about how many cups of each container?Thanks for all the wonderful posts and nice to see you have a few minutes to post again :)

The smaller bowls of salad are for Joshua's lunches, and the larger bowls are for me (I love salad and also eat a LOT!) or, if I end up with extras, to serve at dinner or on the weekend. The smallest bowls hold 6 cups and the largest, 13 cups. I just use what I have, so they're not all the same size. :)

Your blog is great! Love your style and this salad looks SO good!!

Oh how I miss American fridges. We plan to buy a big one here (called a combi lol) It wont be as big as some of the US ones, but double the capacity we have now. I could not fit two of those in my fridge :(

I am wondering could you do a post or direct me to a preexisting one about storing precut veggies. I know some need to be in water others not. Any tips would be great.

I think I could get away with storing the cut up veggies in the fridge and then just assembling them daily.

My husband would love that as a lunch.

Oh and I am sorry to bomb you with questions but 2 more

1. What veggies do you put in your salads. Do you have a staple plan, what do you mix in to mix it up?

2. How much do you buy to ha ve enough for a weeks worth of salad.

Thanks so much Tammy. Great posts as always.

I don't have any special tips for storing pre-cut veggies (other than the salad tips here!).

Our salads are usually Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped celery, chopped bell peppers, and sliced cucumbers. I also like red onions and spinach leaves if we have any on hand. Lettuce, carrots, and celery are the staples though since they keep well (better than peppers or cucumbers) although Joshua and I prefer variety! :)

For a week's worth of salads, we use 10-12 Romaine hearts, 1-2 pounds of carrots, 2 bunches of celery, 1-2 pounds of peppers, and 1-2 English cucumbers. If I buy spinach leaves instead, I use less Romaine (like 6) and mix in 16 oz. of spinach.

I get all of those things at Costco though, so I don't buy them all every week. The carrots come in a 10-pound bag and I buy them every 5-6 weeks or so. The Romaine comes in bags of 6 for $2.99 so it's affordable as well! :)

Have been enjoying your blog for a few weeks, glad I found it. I admire you so much. I'm a 44 yr old mom of six, but have learned so much from your blog! I LOVE this idea for salad making! I hate making salads, so this will inspire me to make them all at once, then enjoy them! Thanks and God Bless!

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