21 hacks for making a better salad so you can skip those long lines

It’s been a tough spring for salad eaters. First, there was the great E.Coli romaine lettuce scare of April and then Just Salad announced it would no longer chop it’s salads anymore. That’s right. Now you have to do your own masticating like it’s the 1700s.

Don’t you have enough stress in your life? But these trendy salad places aren’t going anywhere as long as lunchtime exists. More and more salad chains are popping up on every block — Sweetgreen, the uber-popular and somewhat trendy salad eatery opened 20 new locations in 2017 — and they often have lines out the door which means your lunch break is shortened. And now, you have to factor in extra chewing time!

But you need that delicious salad to get through workdays day. However, what if you could make your own salad that was just as good as any store-bought one and would make you the envy of all your coworkers?

It takes a little extra prep but financially it is the better move. Plus they literally put all the recipes for these salads on the internet. And you will have such a sense of self-satisfaction when you take out your homemade salad that the gloating rights alone will fill you up.

1. Use a glass mason jar

Plastic bowls are so 2014. Now it is all about the mason jar. You will not only be healthy, but also make everyone in your office think you have an Etsy shop.

2. Pick a salad theme

Don’t just make a regular salad and call it a salad. Pick a theme and include ingredients accordingly. Harvest, Summer Time Fun or Chipotle Cowboy are some good ones.

3. Keep the dressing separate

Unless you really like a soggy salad, keep your dressing in a separate container or bring a bottle to work and keep it in the office fridge. Just be sure to label it.

4. Make your own dressing

Or go one step above and make your own salad dressing. There are literally thousands of recipes everywhere so just pick one.

5. Marinate chickpeas

Who are you? Martha Stewart? But chickpeas are delicious and healthy.

6. Freeze and reheat grains

Make some rice or quinoa, freeze it, bring it work in a plastic bag and then reheat and add to your salad. Note to self: Just Salad is a huge fan of wheat berries.

7. Add cooked vegetables

Oh now you are really cooking. Add some cooked vegetables like roasted broccoli, steamed winter squash, and roasted tomatoes for that extra ounce of jutzpah.

8. Use a salad spinner

Wash your salad and then make it magically dry and fresh with a salad spinner. Throw a paper towel in there for extra measure.

9. Massage your kale

If you want to make a kale salad (and there is a good chance of this as eating kale appears to be a law in some states) then try this little hack of massaging the leaves before you eat them as kale can be a little tough to chew.

10. Prep your veggies ahead of time

The key to a great salad is fresh vegetables. Now you don’t have an open salad bar like Sweet Greens and Just Salad but the Sunday before work, buy some really vegetables, cut them up and pack them in containers and then put them on your salad before you go to work.

11. Cut all your ingredients to the same size

If you want every bite to have all the flavors evenly dispersed then be sure to cut all your veggies and proteins into the same size. You don’t want different-sized ingredients in your salad. You’re not an animal.

12. Cheese please

Why are all those fancy salads so good? They key is cheese. Aged and brined cheeses like parmesan, pecorino, and feta make salads so much better.


13. Get a glass bowl

Bring in your own glass bowl and people will swear Kate Middleton is dining in their own office.

14. Add a protein

Give that salad some real fuel with chicken, steak or even tofu.

15. Mix in fresh herbs

It’s all about the flavors.

16. Add some fat

You know why Just Salad and Chopped make such good salads? Because they have some fat on them (but the good kind of fat.) Consider adding avocado, toasted nuts, bacon, smoked salmon, or again cheese. Thirty-five percent of Just Salad customers, who create their own salads, add avocado as a preferred order topping.

17. Add crunchy accessories

Fancy salads are also good because a lot of them basically have chips and bread sprinkled on them. Add croutons, tortilla chips, crunchy onions, pita chips, or crispy wonton noodles.

18. Chop it

Now you can do what a salad chain can’t! Using a cutting board, dump out all your ingredients and if you want to get really fancy grab a mezzaluna (curved knife) but a chef’s knife also works. Arrange the greens in rectangle and then have at it! Everytime you get to the end of the rectangle turn it 90 degrees and chop more until you are satisfied with the size.

19. Use different textures in your salad

One of Chef Michael Stebner of Sweetgreen’s five rules for making a great salad is incorporating different textures into it. He suggests raw cabbage, celery root, or grains.

20. But don’t add too many ingredients

You want a balanced medley of ingredients, not everything you found in your fridge drawer.  “Adding more ingredients doesn’t improve the flavor, and too many can make it muddy and confusing,” Stebner said in an interview with The Washington Post. 

21. Add a side of bread

This kind of defeats the point of a salad but most of these places do offer bread.