These Make-Ahead Salads Will Make Your Week Easier (and Won’t Get Soggy)

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April 18, 2022
broccoli salad
Image credit: Love and Lemons

Eating salad tends to be a lot more fun than making it. The varied textures, the way dressing soaks into each ingredient in its own unique way, the simple joy of constructing the perfect bite — there’s no doubt that eating a salad can be a surprisingly good time. But all that chopping of vegetables, proteins, fruit, and nuts? We rarely have the energy to go through with it when we want a salad — which is probably why so many salad companies like Just Salad and sweetgreen have popped up over the past few years.

There are plenty of salads that must be eaten right when they’re made or they’ll get soggy, but there are even more that can be made ahead of time. The best make-ahead salads contain ingredients that can stand up to dressing for days, permeated by just enough to add flavor and dimension. A great make-ahead salad can also be easily batched up so that you make it once and then get to enjoy it multiple times over the next several days.

We’ve rounded up an assortment of vibrant, healthy salads that are all designed to be made in advance. This allows you to think and prep ahead for a barbecue or potluck, or to meal prep your salads for the week all at once. These salads will lead to a lot of enjoyment — with only one round of chopping and mixing. 

1. Lightened-Up Chicken Salad

chicken salad

Image credit: Shutterstock

Admittedly, we are suckers for the usage of Greek yogurt in place of less healthful ingredients, so this lightened-up chicken salad had us from the start. But it’s great for even more reasons than that one: with walnuts, grapes, and dried fruit, it’s like a Waldorf salad finally got the modern update it deserved. We suggest red or black grapes over green, as they have the highest antioxidant quantity. Scoop it over lettuce, pile it into pita bread, or just eat a bowl of it as is. 

2. Fennel, Apple, and Cabbage Slaw with Green Mayonnaise

fennel apple and cabbage slaw

Image credit: My Food Book

Fennel can be a little bit polarizing, especially for those who are averse to licorice. It has so many health benefits, though, that it’s worth giving a shot. This slaw is a delightful way to give fennel a try if you’re new to it, as it pairs the fragrant vegetable with green apple, cabbage, and pecans. We love the large quantities of fresh herbs in this slaw, including the half-cup of mint. If you’ve been wanting to shake up your coleslaw game, a fennel slaw is the perfect way to go. 

3. The Best Broccoli Salad

broccoli salad

Image credit: Love and Lemons

Classic broccoli salad is wonderful, but this health-ified version of a broccoli salad is even better. The smoky tamari almond topping — which includes highly functional pepitas — can be kept separate so that the nuts and seeds keep their texture with each serving. With a dressing that includes gut-friendly apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and freshly minced garlic, you couldn’t ask for more flavor out of your broccoli. This is the perfect salad to bring to a gathering and convince conventional eaters that a healthy version of a salad can be just as fun as the original. 

4. Make-Ahead Berry Chickpea Salad

Make-Ahead Healthy Travel Salad

Image credit: Blessed Beyond Crazy

If assorted textures are what keep you motivated to eat the entirety of a big salad, consider this make-ahead healthy travel salad your new go-to. You’ll construct the salad with a base of simple spring mix, but it’s the addition of multiple fresh berries, chickpeas, nuts, and even some dried fruit that really makes things interesting. We suggest making a big batch of the dressing, then storing the salad in individual serving containers so that when you’re ready to grab and go, you’ll have a café experience waiting for you right in your fridge. 

5. Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Image credit: Gimme Some Oven

Reminiscent of a Greek salad, this cucumber quinoa salad has the same tangy flavors — only it’s made more filling thanks to the addition of protein and amino acid-laden quinoa. Cucumbers are notorious for how well they soak up dressing, becoming more flavorful and gentler in texture as the days go on. The flavor of the dressing is enhanced with an easy dried herb blend and a squeeze of fresh lemon, and feta cheese will also help round it out. We love that the red onions are kept raw for maximum health benefit, too. If you’re a fan of Greek salads but you find them lacking as a standalone dish, this is the perfect way to turn it into a meal. 

6. Healthy Taco Salad

Healthy Taco Salad

Image credit: Love and Lemons

The words “healthy” and “taco salad” rarely find their places next to one another, so we are extra grateful that this healthy taco salad actually exists. It’s full of highly nutritious ingredients like black beans, radishes, avocado, and raw red cabbage. But what really makes this salad sing is the “meat,” which is made out of shiitake mushrooms. (An immune boosting plant-based meat substitute that lowers inflammation too? Count us in!) The dressing contains a whopping two cups of fresh cilantro, so expect this salad to pack a punch of Tex-Mex flavor.

7. Make-Ahead Mason Jar Salads

mason jar salad

Image credit: Shutterstock

With a step-by-step tutorial to help you master the art of the mason jar salad, this batched salads for the week recipe is here to help you organize your meal plan and eat well simultaneously. The honey-mustard dressing has only four ingredients and they’re all whole foods, and the salad is full of protein by way of chicken breast, goat cheese, and almonds. Once you have the hang of the process down, you can swap out any of the ingredients for variety. 

8. Southwestern Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Salad

Southwestern Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Salad

Image credit: Sweet peas and saffron

It’ll take a bit of cooking to get everything ready for assembly, but once you’ve got it made, you can enjoy this southwestern wild rice and sweet potato salad for days and days. It’s hearty enough to be an entrée all its own, too. Dried chili powder is the secret to the simple vinaigrette, and because wild rice and sweet potatoes hold up so well to moisture, you can easily dress all of the salad in advance. We adore the suggestion of adding black beans when you make it ahead of time for even more protein and fiber in this already filling salad.

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