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I received complimentary glass storage containers from Mighty Nest to write this post.

Summer is arguably the easiest time of the year to eat well. Fresh produce is in its prime, and the warm weather makes refreshing salads sound oh-so-appealing!

make-ahead summer salad bar

With less than an hour of prep-work over the weekend, you can essentially have a “salad bar” waiting for you at home, so a healthy and satisfying meal will only be minutes away all week long. Not only are these homemade salads faster than going to a drive-thru window, they also tend to be much more affordable than choosing them from your grocer’s prepared food section.

Here’s what you need to make your own salad bar at home:

lettuce in a glass container

Leafy greens. My favorites include chopped romaine lettuce, kale (curly or lacinato varieties), spinach, shredded cabbage, and mixed greens. I like to pick at least two varieties of leafy greens to prepare each week, so that my salads have plenty of variety in both taste, texture, and nutrients.

salad toppings in small glass containers

Assorted toppings. Chop up your favorite raw vegetables, such as bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, zucchini, radish, and try shredded vegetables, such as carrots or beets for even more texture. (I use a Salad Shooter to speed up the process.) I also love using leftover roasted vegetables as toppings, like artichoke hearts, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. Non-vegetable topping options include raw nuts and seeds, dried fruit, cooked lentils and beans, cheese, and cooked meats.

*Avocado is another favorite topping, but I don’t chop it ahead of time, since it browns so quickly after being cut. When storing a cut avocado, be sure to leave the pit in the remaining part to delay the browning process.

raw apple cider vinaigrette

Salad dressing. A delicious dressing is key to making a crave-able salads, so don’t skimp on this crucial step! Some of my favorite dressings to prepare ahead of time include:

(I like to prepare two dressings at the same time– usually a vinaigrette and a creamy dressing, so I have both options during the week!) 

salad toppings

Glass storage containers. I prefer glass containers for storing all of my chopped produce, as they won’t leach any chemicals into your food and they also make it easy to see the ingredients they contain. As an added bonus, you can even bake with these glass dishes and then store the leftovers in the same container– meaning less dishes you’ll have to wash!

In addition to mixing-and-matching your own salad ingredients, the following prepared salad options are also easy and store well for a few days as a convenient grab-and-go meal:

I hope you’ll enjoy having a “salad bar” in your fridge as much as I do!

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. Your website is so addictive, your work beyond perfect, even videos are so engaging. OMG, I think All recipes should take inspiration from you. You are my inspiration now. Trying to start my own blog, could you share your journey to success. You are beyond awesome. I love you

  2. How long do you keep these items in your fridge? I have always gone by the three day rule, and I am very afraid of spoiled food, but it seems like I would be doing too much prep to only keep the foods in there for three days. What do you do? And have you ever had the prepped items go bad?

  3. What cute storage containers! I love how they make salads look super appealing! (Great for when you’re trying to avoid the comfort foods and sugary snacks.) I heard that placing a piece of paper towel in with your chopped lettuce helps to keep it fresh! Do you do this, too?

  4. I love anything that’s make ahead. And the salads at the grocery store are always stale and not-so fresh to me. Icky overall. A Memorial Day Salad Bar sounds great to me. Less than an hour or prep work works for me! yay.

    1. We always have a salad bar set up at camp, left over toppings make a great filling for omelets or egg scramble the next morning