”United we fall, divided we stand,” is a good motto to keep in mind if you want to keep a salad bar fresh in your refrigerator. Keeping items together can result in wilted, soggy vegetables. Keeping them separated helps keep foods fresh and crisp, while maintaining their unique flavors. Prepare items ahead for a convenient, healthy lunch and dinner option that only takes a few minutes to create.
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Clean out your refrigerator to make space for an area for your salad bar items. Read the refrigerator manual to make sure you understand how to select the best temperature and air settings for a vegetable crisper tray and meat drawer.
Gather containers you will use for your salad bar items. Choose a variety of small, airtight containers. Choose more small containers, rather than a few larger ones. This will allow you to keep food items separate, keeping their flavors and aromas separate and distinct.
Place the containers on a slide-out drawer if you’d like to be able to serve yourself without removing individual containers from the fridge each time.
Write a list of the items you want in your salad bar. Purchase, wash and prepare the items. Julienne cut items such as carrots and celery if you wish to eat them separately, or dice or shred them if you want to mix them in a salad. Spin wet vegetables and greens in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Press damp veggies between paper towels to remove excess water.
Boil and peel eggs, but do not slice or crumble them until you are ready to use them. Leave water-based fruits and vegetables -- such as tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges and pineapples -- whole until you are ready to use them. Consider cherry tomatoes instead of tomato slices for fresher tomatoes. Buy shredded cheese in resealable bags.
Place larger vegetable items, such as carrot and celery sticks, in containers of water. Place smaller items and greens into containers with paper towels on the bottom and top. Paper towels will absorb excess moisture that can make vegetables wilt. Place cooked meats into containers with paper towels to allow them to absorb excess fat. Let cooked items, such as eggs and grilled chicken, cool before you place them into airtight containers and the refrigerator.
If your containers are not clear, mark each container with the name of the item inside, using pieces of masking tape. Place the tape on the fronts or tops of the containers for easy reference.
Keep low-fat dressings handy to keep the fat content down in your salads. Oil-and-vinegar based dressings may contain fat, but if the fat comes from olive oil, it’s a healthier choice than monounsaturated fat.