Pantry and Fridge Salads

April 2, 2020
| Created by Heather Lieber, RDN, CD

The definition of a “salad” remains heavily contested. Does it need to contain lettuce? Vegetables? What about chicken salad? Fruit salad? Throw three types of candy in a bowl, is that a salad?

At Harmons, we like to stay open minded with our salads and think outside the box. Salads provide the perfect opportunity to use what you have on hand to create a nutritious, well-rounded meal. No need to be confined to a recipe, use your creativity!

Let’s take a closer look on how to compile a delicious, versatile salad and transform it into a complete meal. First, pick your ingredients. This might mean going through your fridge and pantry and pulling out anything that goes well together, or it may be handpicking ingredients from the grocery store. There is no wrong way to do this.

Possible Salad Ingredients

  • Whole grains
  • Chopped fresh veggies
  • Roasted veggies
  • Thawed or steamed frozen fruits or veggies
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Diced meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Beans, peas, or lentils
  • Dressing, oil and vinegar, or simmer sauces
  • Fresh herbs
  • Spices

Is It Complete?

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to take inventory and decide wether this can be a complete meal. Salads make for a great side dish, but they can also be the center stage, main event if you plan right. There are a couple different ways you can check for completeness in a meal.

The first is thinking about macronutrients. Below are the daily recommendations for percent of calories coming from each of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat, and protein.

MacronutrientRecommended % of Total Calories

The first question to ask when checking for completeness is, “does my salad have a good source of all three macronutrients? “

The second model you could use is the MyPlate model. The question to ask here is, “how many different food groups am I incorporating, and in what ratios?” Aim for at least 3 different groups being represented if not more.

Lastly, a very important check for completeness in your salad is the satisfaction factors. Ask yourself, “what sounds good?” Here are some characteristics you may be looking for when you are pinpointing what sounds good and satisfying:

  • Crunchy
  • Creamy
  • Filling
  • Sweet
  • Savory
  • Spicy
  • Warm
  • Refreshing
  • Colorful

Once you have checked for completeness regarding nutrition as well as satisfaction, you are ready to enjoy! See below for some examples of delicious combinations.

Recipes to Start Your Brainstorming