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5 Ingredient Series: Salad

A child sits a kitchen table eating a sliced piece of vegetable. A woman stands beside her and is pushing cut cucumbers and tomatoes from a cutting board to a bowl of salad on the table.

Creating meals with 5-ingredients or less can simplify meal prep and cut down on time spent in the kitchen. It's not just affordable and easy to assemble but can also be made ahead of time. For instance, salad is the perfect 5-ingredient meal that is budget friendly and can be prepared the night before. And let's not forget, it can include most of the MyPlate food groups! 

There are a lot of different flavor combinations and salad styles that you can try. Do you love a classic “House Salad,” a refreshing “Summer Salad,” or a spicy “Southwest Salad?” Depending on what you decide you can write up a list of ingredients you’ll want to use. To help you simplify things you could put stars next to items you already have in your pantry and fridge, so you won’t accidentally buy extra ingredients. If you aren’t sure what style of salad you want, go with what you already have on hand and that will make the decision easier. 

Building a salad is usually simple. There are a couple things to remember when building your salad. 

  1. Do I need to cook anything? Chicken, boiled eggs, or sweet potatoes will need to be prepared before you assemble your salad. 
  2. Have I cleaned my produce? Any produce you use should be gently rinsed in cold water and patted dry. This also includes canned toppings like beans. 
  3. Do I need to cut or shred anything? If you don’t have pre-shredded cheese, you can shred it yourself or cut it into small cubes, along with carrots and other vegetables. 

Once you have prepared your ingredients, you can assemble your salad. Start by taking a clean sealed container (you can even use a jar!). We recommend your first layer be the dressing. Whether you are meal prepping a couple hours before or the night before, your lettuce won't wilt from sitting in the dressing. The next layer will be your toppings that will hold there texture even when they marinate in dressing. This could be carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, olives, apples, chicken, chickpeas, beans, and so on. The third layer can be cheese, seeds, and nuts, like sunflower seeds, walnuts, or almonds. The last layer will be whatever leaf greens you choose. When you are at the grocery store look for leafy, colorful greens like kale, spinach, and other dark greens. Iceberg lettuce for instance, has a great crunch but doesn't have as much nutrients as a darker green lettuce like spinach. When you choose your lettuce you could mix the two together, so you have the textures you like with the additional vitamins and fiber that spinach can give you! Once you have all your salad ingredients layered in the container, seal it, and place it in the fridge for later. We also recommend if you want to add croutons or tortilla strips to leave them out of the container until you are ready to eat so they don't get soggy. When it is time to eat. If you use a jar, dump the salad into a bowl the lettuce is now at the bottom of the bowl and the topping and dressing are on top. If you created a your salad in a storage container with a lid, keep the lid on and give the container a quick shake so you can mix it all together without making a mess. 

Need some salad ideas? All these salads can be topped with your favorite bottled dressing or homemade dressing. Serves 1.

The Southwest: 1-2 cups Mixed green salad, 1/4 cup diced bell peppers, 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed), 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup pepper jack cheese 2-3 Tablespoons dressing, tortilla chips.

The Summer: 1-2 cups Mixed green salad, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/4 cup diced cucumbers, 2-4 Tablespoons goat cheese, 2 Tablespoons almonds, 2-3 Tablespoons dressing.

The Classic: 1-2 cups Mixed green salad, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 2-4 Tablespoon cheddar cheese, 2 Tablespoon croutons, 1 boiled egg, 2-3 Tablespoon dressing.

*Warm Salad: 1-2 cups Mixed green salad, 1/2 cup cubed baked sweet potato, 1/4 cup baked beets, 1/4-1/2 cup baked chickpeas, 2-4 Tablespoons feta, 2-3 Tablespoons dressing. 

*Note: Prepping  Warm Salad 

  1. Preheat your oven to 420 degrees F.
  2. Wash hands with warm water and soap
  3. Rub vegetables under cool water and rinse can of chickpeas. 
  4. Dice sweet potato and beet into small pieces.
  5. Add potato, beet, and chickpeas to a shallow pan. 
  6. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and salt and pepper to taste. Give a quick toss to make sure all is coated.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes (or until fork tender), flipping the veggies half way. 
Other salads to test out from our page! 
April 23, 2024
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