A new year is here and with it more conviction to eat healthy. In addition, we all need to manage our budgets and avoid the cost of eating out too frequently. It is a wonderful idea to stock a few favorite salad ingredients so that you can feed your family with a quick, healthy standby.
Don’t be intimidated by the stereotypical salads that are a bed of lettuce topped with a wide array of chopped, fresh veggies. Sometimes your produce drawer will be empty, or you may not want to fill it with items that you only need a small portion of (with the rest going to waste). Although the chopped salads topped with fresh ingredients are nice, you can also stock your pantry with less perishable items that are readily available when you need them.
If you are stocking your pantry for salads, here are a few recommendations:
Vinegars – A variety is nice: balsamic, rice wine, red wine, cider, and others.
Oils – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, etc.
Preserves/Jellies – By adding a little to the vinegar, you create an inexpensive fruit vinegar.
Nuts and Seeds – Walnuts, almonds (my husband loves the smokehouse almonds and we often use them as a healthy alternative to bacon) , pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts.
Dried Fruit – Cranberries, apricots, raisins, sun dried tomatoes.
Canned Stuff – Artichoke hearts, heart of palm, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (it is a good idea to rinse most canned foods before adding to salad).
Canned Fruit – Oranges, pineapple, pears, etc.
Olives and Peppers – There are many varieties available. (Don’t forget pimentos!)
If you have a few of these foods on hand, you won’t be as tempted to eat out or skip the salad. I also recommend that you invest in a few tools that will help make salads more enjoyable and easier to serve . Choose a good salad bowl that will hold the right amount of salad for your family, and a good pair of tongs that are easy to use for both tossing and serving. A good cheese grater (for when you have a good cheese to add) and a pepper grinder are also important tools.
I also wanted to share this very simple recipe from my friend Chantelle. Her family has salad nights. (I can remember this these from my childhood too…I loved them!). She prepares a plate of lettuce for each family member and then they can choose from a wide variety of prepared toppings to create their own salad.