Packing a salad lunch is a great option when you’re out and about for work or play. For instance, this past weekend we left the farm to go hiking at Tippecanoe River State Park. I asked each of our kids to make their own lunch. Our youngest chose a salad, and with some help, she ended up with a lovely bed of greens, grated carrots, grated cheddar, and ranch dressing. Namely, her favorite salad.
Our 5-year-old is not alone in her love for lunchtime salads! One of our most popular farm stand items is our salad mix: crisp, bite-size mixed greens double-washed and ready for eating. Our customers often tell me they’re buying the greens for their lunches throughout the week for a mid-day meal that gives them the energy to finish their day well.
So what are the keys to creating a delicious, crisp salad for your on-the-go lunch?
Four Steps to Packing a Salad for Lunch
Step 1: Get the Right Containers
I like to pack my greens and veggies separately from toppings to keep all my ingredients in their ideal state, whether that be crisp (like salad greens), crunchy (like nuts or croutons), or soft (like cheese or dried fruit). To do this, I use separate containers and/or compartmentalized containers. Here are two specific container ideas:
Bento Box: Some Bento Boxes–like this one from Bentgo–are created precisely for salads. But you can use almost any Bento Box, like the one pictured here that our family uses for other lunches too.
Hodge Podge Containers: What’s nice about the hodge podge is that you don’t have to buy anything new–you can use whatever you have on hand. For instance, I use a large Pyrex glass bowl for my greens and a bunch of small containers for my toppings. The benefit of the large Pyrex is that I can easily eat my salad out of that container, and I don’t have to pack a separate bowl for my salad.
Step 2: Pack Your Greens and Veggies
Pack your greens of choice (spinach, salad kale, arugula, salad mix) and veggies (sliced or grated sweet turnips, carrots, radishes, peppers, etc) in a separate container from your toppings.
Choose to pack your greens in a container large enough that you can toss your salad together and eat your salad directly from that container. Or, pack your greens in a smaller container, then take a larger bowl for tossing and eating.
Step 3: Pack Your Toppings
What do you love best on your salad? Good news–you don’t have to wait till you’re home for that meal. You can have it for lunch too!
You can pack just about any topping for a salad, from leftover stew or mac and cheese, to a carefully thought-out pairing of flavors. Store cheeses, juicy fruits, beans, eggs, and nuts within separate containers, then add to your salad when it’s time to eat.
Any type of grain–for instance, croutons or tortilla strips–should be stored in a separate bag or container outside of the fridge or cooler so they stay deliciously crunchy.
Step 4: Pack Your Dressing
Last but not least, pack your dressing. Depending on your job, you could bring the whole bottle, or pack just what you need in a small tupperware container or Ball jar. Regardless, make sure your lid is on tight, or double-pack your dressing by placing the bottle or container in a plastic bag. Lunch is supposed to be a break, not time to clean up spilt dressing!
Looking for some specific salad ideas? Try out these recipes from our Farm Blog:
What’s your favorite lunch time salad? Share your ideas in the comments!
Photos: Anne Kingma Photography