I'd like to make salad in bulk for the week ahead on a weekend, which I will store at home in the fridge, to take to work. My gut feel is that what I'd typically put in salad (leaves, tomatoes, cheese etc) won't last long enough to be worth making in bulk, even if I store it at work. If it matters, I typically leave my salad at my desk, as I don't like cold salad at lunchtime.

What factors should I consider when picking ingredients and storage, for a long life salad? What sorts of food should I look for and how will I know they are more likely to last?

  • What storage life did you have in mind? Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 20:20
  • @rackandbone I'm considering making it in a Sunday and it lasting until the next Friday Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 21:50
  • No way to reheat anything at work? Can you store things cold there? How long is the fridge-to-fridge transit? Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 23:08
  • @rackandboneman I can reheat, but I love salads. Fridge to fridge is ~40 minutes, but I usually let the salad warm up when I bring it in. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 23:28
  • That "warming it up" could make the difference between "reasonably safe for a week from a food safety standpoint, if properly refrigerated and prepared and packaged cleanly" to "of dubious safety". Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 23:39

3 Answers 3


-Make slaws of hardier vegetables - bell peppers, carrots, unripe papaya, hard cabbages. Both kinds - the ones that are slightly cooked with a boiling vinaigrette, or the ones prepared raw (som tam for example) , can last a few days in the fridge.

-Pickles tend to be a hardy ingredient.

-Keep a cold but not freezing fridge (I recently started a discussion here ... Why do fridge temperature standards between US and other countries differ? read what EVERYONE wrote )

-If there are leafy greens involved, either store dressings separately, or only put the acid and/or oil on the salad before storing but nothing that brings in salt or sugar. The acid could help, esp when there are fruit in the salad, but could also cause problems...

-Look at plant based proteins - TVP, tofu (optionally smoked), burmese tofu, tempeh, seitan... fried and maybe spice rubbed and/or marinated and/or breaded... cooked beans and lentils... less risk of meat-related dangers... keep fried items in separate container so they do not get waterlogged

-Potato and pasta salads could work for you...


You can make salads that will keep in the refrigerator for a few days by avoiding vegetables that wilt and get soggy, such as lettuce. Instead, choose ingredients that will withstand or benefit from prolonged marination. For example:

  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers

I often make a cole slaw salad consisting of cabbage, green pepper, and carrots; dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and maybe a little mayonnaise. You can eat it right away, but it will actually taste better after marinating for a while. Kept in the refrigerator, it will last for a several days.

Another "refrigerator" salad I like has cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, onion, green pepper and olives; dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Optionally, add a (drained, rinsed) can of kidney beans or garbanzos.

  • Beans are a great addition to your salad — no fat, but lots of protein!

Fresh beets can be shredded into your salad like carrots, but I think they taste better after cooking (sliced, and steamed until tender). Other vegetables fall into this category — you could eat them raw, but they're better cooked.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Beans
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini

As with beets, pare and slice as desired, and steam just to the brink of tenderness. Typically, I'll eat some as a hot vegetable with dinner; with plenty left over to eat cold in a salad the next day. This gets down to your own personal preference, and favorite vegetables — in general however, most fresh vegetables when cooked simply and minimally, will taste good cold in a salad.

  • Canned Vegetables?

No, most canned vegetables do not taste good cold (if at all). However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Canned Beets
  • Canned Olives
  • Canned Hearts of Palm
  • Canned Asparagus
  • Canned Beans (kidney, black, pinto, cannelloni, etc. — drained and rinsed)

Beets are actually a vegetable that cans quite well. Adding a can of (drained, sliced) beets can add a lot of flavor and color to your salad. Like beans, they're an inexpensive staple to keep on hand in your cupboard to extend whatever fresh ingredients you have available.

  • Kale

Last but not least, (steamed) kale is excellent served cold. A batch will last for several days — a little salt, olive oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) — delicious! — ( PLU #-4627 - I love kale! )


Lettuce can be prepped and stored for a few days, but you have to do one of three things:

  1. Store it completely submerged in water in the refrigerator. Drain it thoroughly before using/serving it. (ie, put it through a salad spinner the morning of ... of course, this might defeat the whole intent of the effort).
  2. Keep the heads whole, and don't cut them up until you're ready to use them. (ie, cut them up at lunch time ... or the morning of, which again might defeat the purpose of this.) This also requires finding smaller heads of lettuce that are of an appropriate serving size.
  3. Select heartier lettuces, wash and dry them well, then cut them with a non-metal knife (to reduce browning), and then pack them in an airtight container that's been lined with a paper towel (to ensure the lettuce has good airflow around it), and keep chilled.

If it's only a couple of days, you might be able to get away with the storage in #3 with more delicate lettuces ... but tear the leaves instead of cutting to minimize moisture loss.

I know you mentioned that you don't like cold salads -- but keep everything refrigerated until at least the morning of. If you transport it in an insulated bag (possibly with freezer packs if it's a hot day), you can then just take it out an hour or so before your lunch break to let it warm up some.

As for things to add to the salad ... many things have already been mentioned, but :

  • Look for items which can go on mostly whole, as it'll reduce moisture loss (or leakage into the salad, causing problems). Eg, grape tomatoes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, etc.

  • Firmer vegetables that you typically buy unfrigerated and don't ooze water when you cut into them. (carrots, radishes, broccoli (especially the peeled stem), etc.)

  • Pickled items (olives, bell peppers, etc) ... but keep them away from the other items 'til you're ready to eat.

I personally would avoid cheese or meats ... if you really want something with extra salt in it ... make some croutons.

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