Time to work on your salad meal prep game! We're sharing our favorite tips on how to cook, prep and store salad materials for a week's worth of delicious, healthy meals that you'll actually want to eat.
This post is sponsored by Zwilling. All opinions are our own. This post also contains affiliate links, which means that Crowded Kitchen may make a small commission when you purchase products at no additional cost to you.
Why we love meal prepping salads
- Convenience: there's nothing more rewarding than opening the fridge on a busy day and finding completely pre-assembled materials for a healthy, filling meal. Perfect for busy, on-the-go families or those that are trying to eat more healthy, easy meals.
- Quick, healthy meals: as mentioned above, salad meal prep is a great way to kickstart a healthy habit. If you have everything prepped, you'll be SO much more likely to opt for salad instead of takeout or office treats.
- Customizable for the whole family: if your family (like ours) has many different preferences, this salad meal prep is a great way to make everyone happy. Each family member can pick and choose their own ingredients!
- Batch cooking is SO much quicker. Instead of making 3 smaller batches of quinoa in a week, why not prep a week's worth in one go? You'll spend so much less time at the stove and/or cleaning dishes (the ultimate goal in our house).
The best storage containers
If we're being completely honest, the single most important part of easy meal prep is using the right storage containers.
We've tested many meal prep containers in the last few years, and none equal our favorite Zwilling Fresh & Save vacuum sealed containers*. (*affiliate link)
Fresh & Save containers keep food fresh for up to five times longer than non-vacuum sealed storage method. Yes, five times!
They have glass and plastic containers (both of which are freezer, microwave AND dishwasher safe), as well as reusable zip-top bags, which are perfect for snacks. The glass containers are also oven safe, which makes meal prep even more convenient!
You can store just about anything, and you can also use for sous vide cooking and marinating. (My husband has been loving the bags for sous vide!)
It's safe to say that I am OBSESSED with these containers. They've made my life so much easier, and they're super high quality so I know they'll last for years to come.
Plus, they're super easy to use. You simply place the vacuum pump over the seal, press the button on the pump and watch it work its magic. Even better, the lids are easy to remove (so you don't have to arm wrestle them off). Simply lift the knob on the seal and the pressure releases quickly and easily.
This Fresh & Save 7-piece Starter Set is perfect if you're just getting started. It comes with 1 medium and 1 large vacuum container, 2 small and 2 medium vacuum bags and 1 rechargeable vacuum pump. You can always add on more containers as needed!
Plus, we're so excited to be able offer you a special gift with your purchase! Use our code "CROWDED" when you purchase the starter set for a free small lunchbox.
You won't regret investing in these super high quality containers. It makes meal prep so much quicker and easier, and you get more bang for your buck since the food lasts much longer!
Ingredients you'll need
There really aren't many things you can't prep ahead of time when you're using vacuum sealed containers (yes, including avocado!).
Below are a few ideas to get you started:
Salad base (grains and greens)
- Cooked quinoa, wild rice, farro or another grain
- Chopped fresh greens, like kale, chard, spinach, arugula, microgreens and more
- Cooked lentils or other legumes
- Slaw or shaved vegetables
Add-ins (vegetables, proteins and toppings)
- Protein of choice (we prefer tofu or legumes, but if you're not vegan, you can prep chicken, steak, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, etc)
- Raw diced vegetables, like carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, celery, bell pepper, cabbage, etc.
- Roasted vegetables, like roasted sweet potato, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, squash, carrot, etc.
- Pickled vegetables, like red onion, jalapeño, etc.
- Olives or other marinated ingredients like artichokes, roasted red pepper, etc.
- Fresh fruit, like blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate arils, etc.
- Dried fruit, nuts and seeds
- Crispy chickpeas, homemade croutons or tortilla strips
- Shredded or crumbled cheese
Most dressings and vinaigrettes store wonderfully in the refrigerator for up to a week or so. Below are a few of our favorites you can prep ahead of time:
- Vegan Tahini Caesar Dressing
- Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
- Greek Dressing
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Miso Tahini Dressing
- Jalapeño Lime Vinaigrette
Note: most homemade dressings/vinaigrettes will separate as they sit in the fridge. Shake well or whisk before serving.
Salad recipes you can meal prep in full
If you (unlike me) are perfectly happy eating the same salad every day, you might as well go ahead and prep the entire salad instead of individual ingredients.
Here are a few of my favorite salads that are perfect for meal prep (and don't get soggy as they sit!):
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Chickpea Fattoush Salad
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad
- White Bean Salad
- Moroccan Carrot and Lentil Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Expert Tips & FAQs
- Start small. If you're intimidated by meal prep, you don't have to go all in at once. Start by simply prepping the most time-consuming ingredients, like cooked grains, roasted vegetables and vinaigrettes. Chances are, once you realize how much time it saves, you'll want to prep every last component!
- Buy in bulk. To save money (and time), purchase your most-used ingredients in bulk. For us, that includes quinoa, rice, beans, nuts and seeds. (It's also better for the environment!)
- Change things up. It's so easy to get stuck in the same stale routine with the same ingredients. Once a week, try adding something new to your salad meal prep lineup, like a fun vegetable (watermelon radish!) or alternative grain.
- To make meal prep faster and easier, invest in some high quality knives. My single most important kitchen item is a good chef's knife. A super sharp, quality knife makes prepping fibrous vegetables so much easier (and safer!). Contrary to popular belief, a dull knife is far more likely to cause you harm.
With vacuum sealed containers, you can store for over a week, but if using regular containers, we suggest no longer than 4-5 days. Some ingredients last longer than others (roasted vegetables, fresh vegetables like carrot and celery, beans, quinoa, etc).
More meal prep recipes you'll love
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