In my house, it’s my job to organize the refrigerator. This isn’t because I’m a master organizer by any means, but more because the kitchen is my domain. It’s my happy place. I spend a lot of time there and I love playing and experimenting with food and new recipes. And on top of all that, it’s my job to make sure my family eats well.
I often get asked how I am able to eat a clean diet when I’m constantly on the go, and it mostly boils down to one thing: optimal refrigerator organization.
While I can’t claim to be a pro at organization, I do know that I’ve learned some tricks throughout the years that have helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle. These are things that now are just second nature and it all starts with having a plan.
One of the most things we hear from people all the time is, “I don’t have enough time to make healthy food.” And boy do I ever get that. We have this idea that grabbing food from a restaurant or salad bar will be quicker than eating at home.
However, when we consider the time it takes to drive to the restaurant, place an order, pay for the food, and drive home again, we could have already made our own meal at home for a fraction of the cost. Besides, food we make ourselves is always healthier because that’s the only way to be 100% sure of what’s actually in our meals.
So what’s a busy working mom of two to do? One of my favorite ways of ensuring I always have a quick meal ready to go is by building a salad bar in my fridge. After grocery shopping, I clean, chop, and store my produce in glass containers (mason jars work great too) so that throughout the week when I need something quick, I simply throw the ingredients together in a bowl and voilá – I have a healthy meal in a matter of minutes!
You might be thinking, this all sounds nice in theory, but I’m far too busy to do all of this.
Wrong! If I can do it, so can you. It’s all about working the plan. Below are five steps to help you transform your refrigerator into you favorite salad bar.
Now I want to hear from you! Are you ready to turn your fridge into a salad bar? Please share your ideas and comments with me below and have fun!
With love and salad bars,
Build a Salad Bar in Your Fridge in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Clean out your fridge
That random condiment that’s been sitting there for 6 months? Toss it – it’s likely filled with extra sugars anyway. Aim to dedicate two to three shelves to your salad bar.
Step 2: Gather the right tools
It’s all about the containers. We definitely recommend glass containers whenever possible. The chemicals in plastic containers can break down and actually leach to your food – gross! Plus, glass is a bit easier on our environment. We like to use a combination of good ole’ mason jars and lockable glass storage containers.
Step 3: Prep your veggies
Take time to prep your food as soon as you bring it home from the store! I find that if I leave it for later, it’s much less likely to get done. Wash and chop your veggies. Clean and dry your leafy greens and fresh herbs then wrap them in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Having all of the veggies in their containers and ready to go in the fridge makes tossing a salad a cinch.
Step 4: Prep your extras
One thing I love the most about a good salad bar is the array of extra toppings that I may not always have readily available at home. Buy fresh olives and/or artichoke hearts and transfer them to a glass container for freshness. Cook a big batch of tri-colored quinoa or chickpeas. If you’re a meat eater, cook up three extra chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces and place in another glass container so you can turn your salad into a hearty meal. Keep a jar of nuts and seeds handy for another good topper.
Step 5: Make a big batch of your favorite dressing
No salad is complete without a yummy dressing but one of the most dangerous places of any salad bar is choosing a healthy dressing. Store-bought dressings are often filled with manufactured oils and sugar so we always advocate making our own. Some of my favorites are our Garlic Caesar dressing and East Meets West.
So there you have it! Now you’re fridge is stocked and ready to serve you up a yummy, nutritious meal in a matter of minutes!
Question – what is the best way you have found to dry leafy greens? A salad spinner doesn’t work well if you want to keep the leaves whole. Is using a ton of paper towels the only option? And how do you dry dino kale before making kale chips? All the nooks and crannies make it a frustrating process! :)
Hey Lisa, Great question. I actually think the salad spinner works really well. After I dry them, I dump the excess water and even store them in the salad spinner in the fridge. It does a great job. With the paper towels, lay all the kale flat across several pieces, then roll the paper towels and kale up like you would a burrito. You can store them like this in a plastic bag for freshness or if you want to make kale chips right way, keep rolling the “burrito” on the counter top. Hope that helps. You definitely need dry kale for kale chips! Good luck. :)
Nice website and helpful ideas. thanks! Please forgive me for say this, but I think you mean “excess” moisture, not “access” moisture….
OMG I love you Diane. Thank you! All fixed!
I’d really like to try this, buy I’m not sure how long things would stay fresh for one person. Unfortunately my son will not eat raw vegetables, other than celery or ice berg lettuce, so I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat everything up in time for it not to spoil. I do notice that with ziplock bags I can squeeze the air out and they tend to stay much fresher. Is there any type of glass container that can push the air out? I think containers would be much easier to access food from, because ziplock bags can be quite the hassle.
But* not buy
Hi Autumn, Maybe the best idea for you is to still prep but in smaller quantities, an amount you will use throughout the week in raw form or in cooked dishes. We totally understand it can be hard to coax veggies into young kiddos. We’ve been known to hide veggies in some of their favorite dishes so they have no idea they are eating healthy. We are not familiar with glass containers in which you can remove air. Sounds like a great idea though. Let us know if you have any other questions!
I love making salad bars in my fridge. So much easier in the morning for me to throw a salad together on the way out the door. Here’s a tip: carrots stay fresh for a long time in cold water. I prep them into carrot sticks and put them in a mason jar, fill with cold filtered water, close the lid, and voila! fresh, crunchy carrot sticks forever. Yum! Happy salad barring, everyone. And thanks for the site. I love all of your tips and recipes. – jewls
Great tip, Julie! Thank you so much for sharing that. XO, Jo & Jules