Make-Ahead Salads can be a great way to get ahead of your week. They’ll even help you with your weekly meal prep for lunch and to get ready for Holidays. All of these Make-Ahead Salads would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving, Christmas, Summer Picnic, Potluck, or BBQ.
We love to eat a lot of salad, but honestly, all the chopping, day after day at dinnertime is just a little too much. I’m a bit of a lazy chef and don’t like to take out so many ingredients, do all the washing, chopping, cleaning up, and mixing dressings just to do it all again tomorrow.
That’s exactly why make-ahead salads are such a great help. My husband and I both use the make-ahead salads for lunch, but we also serve them at dinnertime.
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Can Salads Be Made Ahead of Time?
If you’re wondering – Can salads be made the day before? This is a great question. There are many salads that store great when you make them ahead of time. They are going to store best if you use crunchy, hard vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, celery, etc. And, usually, they’re best if you don’t add the dressing until closer to serving time.
Many salads can be made the day before and then just dressed on the day of serving. When I make salads with lettuce, I always prepare the lettuce and dry vegetables then toss it right before serving.
You can keep your salad from getting soggy by not adding wetter vegetables, like tomatoes or cucumbers ahead of time because they start to lose their water and make your salad all wet. Add those in after dressing the rest of your salad.
I make a huge batch of salad on the weekend and keep it in this lettuce keeper. I pull out whatever portion I want and add the dressing closer to serving time.
Can I Make Pasta Salad A Day In Advance?
I actually think that all pasta salads should be made ahead of time. You can make your pasta salad the night before or even a few days before. When you make the pasta salad ahead of time it gives the dressing plenty of time to soak into the pasta. This gives your pasta the best flavor. It also allows the other ingredients to contribute flavor to the dressing – think onions, olives, and pepperoni.
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Copycat Sunflower Crunch Salad
Who doesn’t love these salads? I’m pretty sure this is one of my all-time favorite salads to pick up. The sweet, creamy dressing along with those crunchy sunflower seeds and tart cranberries light up my taste buds. You’ll want to make this salad 60 minutes ahead of time in order to get all the flavors married together. If you’re taking this salad for lunch, toss it with the dressing in the morning and it’ll be ready for you by lunchtime.
Easy Cucumber Tomato Salad
This Cucumber Tomato Salad is so simple to make any night of the week and worth making a big batch. You can get cucumbers and grape tomatoes most of the year all around the country. I prefer using English Cucumbers in this when I want to make it ahead because they have fewer seeds and hold up better with dressing.
Easy Broccoli Pasta Salad
A fresh and tasty pasta salad works great to make-ahead for lunches or a dinner side dish. This one adds some crunchy broccoli and is so simple because it uses bottled Italian salad dressing. Throw in some freshly grated parmesan cheese for a nice salty punch. Divide this into your meal prep lunch containers ahead of time and it makes for a grab-and-go lunch.
Shaved Cauliflower Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
With Pistachios, Raisins, and Scallions, this raw cauliflower salad is full of flavor. The Champagne vinaigrette is quick to whisk together and can be used on many other salads, too. Make this crunchy salad and serve it with some tasty grilled chicken or steak. You won’t be disappointed.
A little kick to your coleslaw? Why have I not seen this before? A little bit of heat in your coleslaw will wake up those taste buds and give that punch that says, “Wow!” You’ve got to give this a try.
Ramen Noodle Salad
I first had Ramen Noodle Salad at a baby shower and I was blown away! It is so delicious and will be the hit at any family gathering, picnic, holiday, or potluck. In fact, I’m sure that it’ll be the first dish emptied at your next event. Just try it, you’ll see.
Curried Couscous Salad
This unique salad may seem exotic but it comes together so quickly with easy to find ingredients. It’s sweet and lightly spicy with crunchy fresh veggies, nuts, and dried fruit. It keeps well in the fridge and would be great for lunch or dinner.
Pasta and Pea Salad
Frozen peas are a great way to bring the freshness of Summer into any time of the year. With this pasta and pea salad, you’ll have a lovely punch of color and freshness to any meal. Take it to a picnic, or potluck if you like. It would be a nice addition to your weekly meal prep, too.
Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus
Orzo is one of the quickest pasta’s and that’s exactly why you can make this pasta salad in about 15 minutes. What’s even better? It can be made all in one pot. Serve it as a meal on its own, or grill some chicken breast for the side. Either way, you and your family will be completely satisfied.
Yellow Pole Bean Salad
Most of the time you won’t be able to find long pole beans in your local grocery store, but try using canned wax beans in this tasty bean salad. It will taste so much better than the 3-bean salads you get at the grocery store. The fresh dressing adds just what you need. And, this salad makes a wonderful addition to your low-carb meal.
What Should I Serve with a Make-Ahead Salad?
You may want to add protein to your salads in order to have a complete meal. When thinking of what to serve with your salad, there are more options than you could even count, but here are some great ones:
- Smoked Sausage
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Batch-Cooked Chicken Breast
- Hamburger Patties
- Pork Chops
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It is such a smart idea to have some make-ahead salads ready to go in your fridge. You can add them to almost any meal at the last minute so you’re only working on preparing the main dish. You might be thinking that these salads would be great in the summer, but they’ll also be a great addition any other time of the year. And, they’re nice enough to add to your Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Dinners.
The best thing about make-ahead salads is that on busy weeknights you can focus your efforts on making a quick protein, serve the salad on the side and you’re done! You could have dinner ready in about 10 minutes when you already have these salads prepared.