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Homemade Salad Dressing & Easy Make-Ahead Salad Recipes

Homemade Salad Dressing & Easy Make-Ahead Salad Recipes
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Last month, I started paying attention to how much food I was wasting. You can read the full story (as well as get some tips for reducing food waste) here. I have been *super* diligent about not wasting the food in our house – I’ve been meal planning more strategically, eating more leftovers, and freezing food we aren’t eating.

I’ve made potato chips out of an extra potato, smoothies out of bananas we froze, and lemonade slushies out of lemons I normally would have tossed in the trash. It’s been fun getting creative with our food, and we have tried some new things as a result. 

We’ve also had some other changes in our lives. The last couple of months have been crazy busy with my shop, and I’ve spending more and more time in the office. Many days, Charles will join me and work from the office, too. We’ve been bringing our own lunches with us to save money (and calories!), and we’ve been eating a lot of leftovers. But this week I tried a different form of leftovers…I turned the fruits and veggies and cheese in our fridge into healthy salads.

Make-Ahead SaladsAnd because I really think the most important part of the salad is the salad dressing (Ranch all day, every day!), I made a homemade salad dressing to go with these salads.

My mom has been making this dressing for as long as I can remember. It’s called Western Dressing, and it’s a lot like Ranch dressing (it tastes just like Ranch!), but it’s easier to make (only a handful of ingredients) and lower in calories than most Ranch dressings, too (like, way lower…see below for more on that!). It’s also not quite as thick as traditional Ranch…a little goes a long way. 

And it’s delicious.

Western Salad DressingThis post may contain affiliate links.

Western Salad Dressing Recipe

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons dehydrated parsley flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
 
Put all ingredients in a jar or small container and shake well.  Store in an airtight container.  Shake before measuring to use.  
 
To make dressing:
 
3-1/2 teaspoons Western Dressing Mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
 
Stir ingredients, store in covered container in the refrigerator.  It tastes best after sitting in the fridge overnight.
 
I used low-fat sour cream and low-fat buttermilk (not by choice, but that’s what they had at the store) and this is about 55 calories per 2 tablespoon serving, making it waaaay fewer calories than traditional Ranch!
 
So now, you need some tasty salads to go with your fabulous dressing! I used Glad To Go Lunch Containers. You guys – these are fantastic. They have little salad dressing cups that snap into the lid, and they’re dishwasher and microwave safe. They are so handy! You can buy them online here.
Glad Salad Containers
 
Simple Make-Ahead Salad Recipes
The first thing I did was boil some eggs that were nearing their expiration date and take out some leftover chicken (I don’t do leftover chicken…those salads are for Charles!). I used spinach because I had a bunch, but any lettuce would work for these.
Simple Cobb Salad
Simple Cobb Salad
Container counts: 1 red, 2 green, .5 blue – add container for dressing
 
I used leftover chicken, half a hard-boiled egg, a shaved carrot, shredded cheddar cheese, and cucumber slices over spinach.
 
 Extra Veggie Salad
Extra Veggies & Protein Salad
Container counts: .25 red, 2 green – add container for dressing
 
I made this with half a hard-boiled egg, a shaved carrot, diced cucumber, and snow peas.
 
Chicken Grape Goat Cheese
Chicken, Grape & Goat Cheese Salad
Container counts: .5 red, 2 green, .25 purple –  add container for dressing
 
Leftover chicken, red grapes, and goat cheese make up this salad.
 
Fruit Almond Goat Cheese Salad
Fruit, Almond & Goat Cheese Salad
Container counts: 1.5 green, .5 blue, .5 purple – add container for dressing
 
My favorite! Lots of fruit (strawberry slices, blueberries, and grapes) with chopped almonds, goat cheese, and some cucumber for good measure.
 
Not only are these salads delicious and *super* healthy, but they’re also made from food we already had. And most exciting, we now have healthy lunches packed that will get us through the next several days!
 
Glad Food Storage
If you’re looking for food storage tips, be sure to check out the Glad Protection Pointers to learn how to properly store your food. They have tips and ideas for storing more than 100 different foods – definitely worth  taking a peek!
 
And be sure to let me know if you have a favorite (easy!) salad recipe – I’d love to try it! Unless it has spicy stuff or leftover meat in it. In which case, I’ll make it for Charles. 😉
 
Find me on Facebook for easy recipes, free printables, fun crafts, and planning tips and tricks. I’d love to have you join me over there.

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wow does that looks de-lish! I wish I could eat dairy, but thanks for the salad inspiration! Pinning!

Wow – some really great lunch ideas here! I’ll be trying a few.
I found you on Foodie Friday – Would love to have you share on the What’s for Dinner linky
http://www.lazygastronome.com/whats-for-dinner-sunday-linky-26/

Great idea for ahead mini salads. Just grab and go! We’re going to try out your dressing too!

Grab and go is essential for my family. These salads are a great idea! Good post!

I would love it if you would share this on my weekly link party : )

http://www.twentysomethinginthe2010s.com/peace-love-linkup-002/

These are some great combinations and ideas for variety! And I can’t wait to try that ranch dressing out. Yum!

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