You know why I sometimes choose convenience foods over a healthier option? Because it’s . . . convenient. Sometimes I just don’t feel like spending an hour in the kitchen. Sometimes I just want food NOW! The temptation to eat something unhealthy but readily available is very real. I’m sure you’ve been there.
Meal planning and advance preparation are my keys to healthy convenience food. Chopping a big salad every day for lunch? Not likely to happen for long. But if I spend an hour once a week preparing salad that we can eat all through the week, well, that is a very doable solution for me.
So that’s what I do. I spend an hour on Sunday or Monday stocking my fridge with enough salad to last until the next weekend. An hour seems like a big chunk of time to spend just making salad, but when I get 6-8 meals worth of salad from that one hour, it’s actually a very efficient use of time. We eat a big salad several times a week for lunch, and usually have a side salad with supper. It’s so nice to be able to just grab a container from the fridge, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle on some seeds and nuts and lunch is served. Healthy convenience food is possible, but it does take some planning ahead.
Salad for a Week
1. I begin by starting anything that needs to cook. I usually boil 4-6 eggs because we like hardboiled eggs on salads. Occasionally I make croutons, so I start those early so they’re done by the time the vegetables are prepped.
2.Then I move on to my base ingredients-usually green leaf lettuce (or romaine) and spinach or kale. Tear or chop into pieces, wash, spin, divide into bowls and containers. I usually do one big bowl and 4 or 5 single serving meal size containers, plus 4 or 5 side salad size containers.
3. Next I chop vegetables that aren’t very juicy-peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, onions, etc. I also shred 3-4 carrots (we don’t like big chunks of carrot in our salads). Divide all evenly among bowls/containers.
4. Then I cut up messy items, like tomatoes and avocados, or hardboiled eggs and leftover meat I’m adding. I only put tomatoes and avocado on the salad we’ll eat within the next 2 days, otherwise the avocado looks really nasty and the tomato juice makes the lettuce soggy. Finish adding all ingredients to the salads, cover and wedge into every nook and cranny of the refrigerator that I can.
5. Finally, I make a batch of salad dressing. Mock Caesar Salad Dressing is our current favorite, but sometimes I make ranch or a vinaigrette. I store the dressing in my Magic Bullet container I mix it in and add to the salad just before serving.
Notes: If you’re making salads to take to work or school you can place nuts, seeds and croutons in a small container and squeeze it in the container with the salad. Same with dressing.
If you don’t feel like messing with salad dressing, a quick drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil is an easy alternative.
I’m the only one in my family who likes avocado in salad, so I just put it on a few salads and store those away from the others in the fridge. It’s easy to personalize the salads according to family members’ tastes, then just remember which one is which, or use masking tape to quickly label the salads.
This post is shared at the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as MOM.
How do you save time in the Kitchen?