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Sick of soggy salads? In this post, I’m sharing how to keep salads fresh for a week with my easy batch prep method.
Bulk prepping salads is my key to ensuring I have a healthy lunch to hand, whether I’m at home or out and about.
When I had more time, I would prep a fresh salad every day that I was home. I would cook meat, chop veggies, whip together a dressing… and now I’m exhausted even thinking about it. Don’t even get me started on having to do a ton of washing up after lunch. Such housework should be illegal.
Now I’m balancing a lot, and a fresh salad every day for lunch did not seem practical a few months ago.
And then I started experimenting with bulk prepping salads. And tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked my methods, one soggy vegetable at a time.
Then I had my eurika moment.
I found a system that proves its possible to prep a week’s worth of salad in advance, that stays fresh every day.
Now, I’m prepping salads on Sundays for the whole week ahead, and the system works. What I’m going to share is how to keep salads fresh for a whole week, with this easy peasy prep method.
Should I Bulk Prep Salad?
Yes, double yes and triple yes:
- It’s cheaper to cook in bulk (read more about how I cut my food bill in half here)
- There is so much less waste when you bulk prep
- It requires a little bit of time investment to prep, but then you save a lot of time in the long run by not having to prep once your salads are prepared
- It leaves you with no excuse to skip a healthy lunch, and eat out (I’m looking at the man in the mirror here. I used to be so guilty of doing this.)
- If you’re like me, and love a good salad, bulk prepping will leave you with a supply of glorious nutritional goodness that will make you feel so good and healthy (plus a bit smug that your lunch is so lovely, let’s be honest here).
How to Meal Prep Salads and Keep Them Fresh
I went through a lot of trial and error to figure out how to keep salads fresh for a week.
And eventually, I found a system that works. Every, single, time.
I’m talking fresh proteins and greens with tangy dressing every day of the week, in exchange for an hour or two of work. That you will wholeheartedly thank yourself for doing.
Ok, here’s my system for bulk prepping multiple salads that will stay fresh all week:
First, let’s start by splitting our ingredients into categories.
When it comes to bulk prepping salads, you have two types of ingredients; ingredients than can be prepped in advance, and ingredients that can’t. Once you separate them, bulk prepped salads become manageable. Achievable. Magnificent.
I call the ingredients I can knock up in advance ‘Knocked Ups‘. Those that need to be prepped right before eating are ‘On the Spots‘. I can practically feel you eyerolling me here, but hear me out. The system works, even with my cringy nicknames.
So your Knocked Ups are the vast majority of salad ingredients, such as proteins, most chopped vegetables, nuts and cheeses. On the Spots are lettuce leaves (they’ll get soggy if prepped in advance), avocado (it’ll turn brown after a little while) and croutons (again, these will be sog-central if you add them too early).
Keeping bulk prepped salads fresh for a week is so easy once you separate your Knocked Ups and On the Spots.
- Finely chop your Knocked Up vegetables and divide into tupperware containers, layering the heaviest and highest water-content ingredients at the bottom, and lighter, drier ingredients on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Put together a speedy dressing, enough for all of your bulk prepped salads and store in the fridge in a dressing bottle or sterilised jam jar.
- When ready to serve*, slice your On the Spot ingredients and add to a bowl.
- Tip your Knocked Up container on top, then drizzle on dressing and toss.
Et voila, fresh salad every time!
*If you need to put your salad together in advance of eating, for example, when taking it to work in the morning for lunchtime, adjust step 3 as follows:
Drizzle dressing at the bottom of a large tupperware container
Add Knocked Up ingredients on top
Slice and add On the Spot ingredients
Do not toss together until you are ready to eat. This will help to keep the salad crisp and fresh when serving.
Here’s My Salad System in Practice
I love salad with a ton of variety! So here’s how I bulk prep my salads for the week to keep them fresh, in practice.
I start by laying out a tupperware box for each salad. It’s really handy to separate each portion in advance so you can just grab and go.
Anything I’m prepping On the Spot goes straight into storage. For example, lettuce leaves go right into the fridge along with avocado, unprepped, and croutons go in the cupboard.
Then I get to work on my Knocked Up ingredients.
I layer the wettest ingredients at the bottom, for example, halved cherry tomatoes and cucumber (seeds scooped out).
Then, I add some jarred ingredients, like olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted pepper and preserved lemon. These usually come packed in oil or water, so I drain them as much as possible or try to absorb some of the liquid with kitchen roll. They are finely chopped and layered on top.
Next, I go for low-water content vegetables, such as red onion, cress or fresh pepper. These are layered next.
Finally, I put the proteins, cheese or nuts on top. Usually, I’ll go for some diced chicken breast, or goat’s cheese. These are the last layer to be added.
Each tupperware dish goes into the fridge, ready to be eaten.
Then, I prep a dressing. I got a salad dressing bottle a few years ago in B&M and it’s stood the test of time. I would highly recommend checking out your local discount shop for something similar, but a sterilised jam jar would do the exact same job, too.
Once prepped, your dressing can be stored in the fridge.
When you are ready to eat your salad, slice up your On the Spot ingredients, and add them to a large bowl. Then tip your tupperware box of Knocked Up ingredients on top, drizzle with dressing, and toss.
Your fresh salad is prepped!
If you are taking your salad on the go, drizzle your dressing at the bottom of a large tupperware container, the tip in your Knocked Ups, then slice and add your On the Spot ingredients. Wait until right before eating to toss everything together, which will help to keep your salad perfectly fresh.
How Does This Method Keep Salad From Getting Soggy?
After a lot of trial and error, I found that salad ingredients that contain a lot of moisture are the root cause of salad-sog (not technically a word, but it really should be). Foods with a high-water content are key to making salad taste fresh and light, so keeping them at the bottom means that any liquid has nowhere to go but down. Piling the drier ingredients on top keeps them away from the excess liquid.
Liked this post? For more healthy lunch ideas, why not check out this Chicken Quinoa lunchbox recipe?
Did you try this method? Let me know below how you found it, or if you have another method for keeping bulk prepped salad fresh.