Can I Make Chopped Salad the Night Before?

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Forget about a mere night in advance -- plan and prep salads for an entire week and enjoy the ease of simply pulling out a prepared salad from your refrigerator. With all your fixings chopped and ready to go when you need them, it is easy to enjoy salad every day without all the busy work.

Make-Ahead Salads

  • Making salads ahead allows for a quick grab-and-go lunch on a busy morning or simple dinner prep at the end of the day. Salads made using leafy salad greens and vegetables can be chopped and ready to go up to a week in advance when stored in airtight containers or zippered storage bags in your refrigerator. The only caveat is that you cannot apply dressing for overnight storage, as it will cause the salad greens to wilt. Instead, add dressing directly before serving.

Keep It Fresh

  • To keep salad greens fresh when stored, it is important that they are completely dry when they go into the storage bag or container. Rinse salad greens in cold water and spin them in a salad spinner or a clean pillowcase to dry. If they are still not completely dry, lay them on a towel and let them finish air-drying before storage. Tear or cut the leaves into bite-size pieces. Store the salad greens alone or mixed with toppings in an airtight container or storage bag lined with a paper towel on the bottom to collect any condensation that may occur.

Keeping Moisture at Bay

  • Moisture in your stored salad can lead to quicker deterioration. Many vegetables like broccoli, celery, carrots, radishes and mushrooms store well in a container with salad greens because their moisture content is low. However, avoid storing cut tomatoes, pears and other soft fruits together with salad greens overnight, as this can create a soggy salad. Instead, prepare any juicy toppings separately and store them in a different container until it is time to serve the salad. At that time, mix the two together, toss the salad and serve.

Keeping Things Safe

  • Salads that include meats, beans, cheese or cream-based dressings should not be unrefrigerated for longer than two hours, as this can set the stage for a dangerous level of bacterial growth. Always refrigerate salads that contain perishable ingredients. If you are bringing your made-ahead salad to lunch, use an ice pack and insulated bag or container to help keep your salad outside of the danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature range where bacteria grow best.

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