Summer is just about officially here, which is the season of bridal showers, graduation parties, outdoor gatherings! Some of my favorite things to do when I host (or cater for a friends party) is do a food or dessert bar. The great thing about a food ‘bars’ is that they are easily put together, they please a crowd, and they look simply adorable, making them one of the most memorable parts of any party!
Here are some tips and steps that will help you create a dessert and/or food bar that your guests are sure to love!
Step 1. Decide whether you want to serve food, desserts, or both.
This decision will primarily be made based on the time of day that you are hosting the party. If you are throwing the party at noon for example, your guests will most likely be expecting lunch. If on the other hand you plan to only serve appetizers or desserts, just be sure your party is not around a general meal time, or you may have very hungry guests! Also, as a general rule of thumb, I always write something about what I plan to serve on the invites, just so there is no confusion.
Step 2. Evaluate your crowd to determine what types of food/desserts to prepare.
The next thing I begin to think about when catering or hosting a party is who will be there. For example, if I know there are mostly women coming, my thoughts automatically lean more towards a salad bar. (No offense guys, but this tends to have more of a feminine appeal, and turns out really pretty!) For example, for my sisters wedding shower, I did a huge salad bar that not only looked really elegant, but it also also pleased all of the girls there, whom all enjoyed a salad! If I am throwing a party with a more diverse crowd, I might do something with multiple meats and different options to choose from, like a taco, pizza, or chili bar. When ti comes to dessert bars, the great thing about those is you pretty much can’t go wrong. As long as you have a few different options, most people will find something they enjoy. I also think about where the location of the food and party will be, which will make a difference in the types of food I will serve and prepare, based on if it will be indoors or outdoors. Also, when it comes to choosing foods, I try to keep most of my food items healthy, but still appealing to a large crowd (that is where Dashing Dish recipes come in!) Of course, I might have a few things that are not the healthiest, such as chocolate chips, but for the most part, I try to keep the main dishes on the healthier side!
Step 3. Select a theme and/or colors.
This might not always apply, especially if it is a casual party, but if I know there will be a theme to the party (especially if it is a wedding or baby shower), then I like to start thinking about the colors of the food, napkins, plates, etc. For example, this may help you pick the flavor of cupcake, frosting flavors, or desserts you will make, and of course it will help you think about decorations you may need. The great thing about food and dessert bars is that they are often cute enough by themselves, and the food is decoration enough, so I often only plan for a few little decorative accents such as flowers, paper straws, wooden spoons, and possibly linens to drape across the table, which I set the food on.
Step 4. Begin to think about numbers.
Once you know what your menu will look like, you will need to start planning your grocery list. I often do this well in advance, and just as soon as I have a rough head count for the party. I like to be prepared ahead of time, and even get ingredients that might be hard to find ahead of time if possible. I like to safely assume that each guest will have at least one serving of food and/or dessert, and I generally multiply that number by at least two per guest. From there, I determine if anyone will be bringing a dish to the party, and if so, I generally give them a few specific ideas to choose from so it will go with the theme. Once I know about how much food I will need to buy/prepare, I start to write up a rough grocery list.
Step 5. Think about set up and details.
Once you know where your food/dessert bar will be located (any long table will work), and what you will be serving, it is time to plan the set up! This can be really simply done, or a bit more extravagant, based on the look you are going for, and the type of party.
1. The first thing I think about is linens. The type of linen or runner you choose for your bar will vary based on the party, and the great thing is you can either rent them or purchase them for a great deal if you buy some fabric from the craft store, or you could buy one or two basic runners, so that you can keep re-using them, (I have a burlap runner that I re-use for almost every party). I also like to get paper plates and napkins that go with the color and theme.
2. After choosing the linens, I think about if I want different elevations. This can be simply done by using cake plates, boxes, crates, trifle bowls, basic plates, trays, or even a stack of books! The key here is just simply to add different heights to the bar, which allows you to place some things in the back, and some things in the front without things getting lost. Otherwise, it would just end up looking like a huge pile of food, and it will be hard for your guests to sort through.
3. Choose plates, bowls, trifle bowls, cake plates, jars, and trays you will want to use. I like to use mason jars for a lot of my food and dessert bars, because you can buy them in bulk for really cheap (Walmart has a great deal on a 12 pack). I like to use the bigger ones for larger items such as salad toppings, and smaller ones for my dessert bar toppings. As far as plates go, you can really get creative and mix and match what you have, but if you don’t have much to work with, you can always go to a second hand store such as Good Will (you’d be surprised how many cute dishes they have there), or look at an inexpensive store such as Home Goods! In general, when I am buying plates, trays, etc., I try to think practically, and buy white or clear items, so I can keep re-using them in the future. Also, don’t forget about serving utensils! Be sure that every dish has something you can serve it with, such as a spoon, tongs, or a pie server. I even like to practice ‘setting up’ my food/dessert bar the night before the party sometimes so that I can be sure I have all the right serving items.
4. Think about details. Like I said earlier, you won’t need to buy a lot of decorative details, because the food/dessert bar in itself is generally pretty adorable, so I like to just pick out a few little accents to bring out the color and/or theme that I am going for. One great way to do this is by using colored paper straws and wooden utensils (I buy them at Home Goods or on Etsy or Amazon for a few dollars.) I also like to make little signs/labels which can be done really simply by cutting out little pieces of paper, and folding them, or with something like mini chalk boards (Amazon/Etsy have great deals, and these can be re-used). You can also make little paper tags for things, buy colorful candies to tie in your color theme, and even buy flowers (or use fake flowers) for an elegant touch!
and last but not least…
Step 6. Think about ways to save money!
Let’s face it, throwing a party can be pretty expensive. When it comes to entertaining or catering, I always try to think about ways I can save money. One great way to do this is by planning ahead. When you plan ahead and know what you are going to buy, this will allow you to look for sales on food (as long as they are items that will stay fresh until your party, or can be frozen), and other items such as paper plates and napkins. Buying things in bulk can also be a great way to get a deal, as long as you know you will be able to use it all. When it comes to saving on serving wear and the details, I like to start by looking around my house for items I already have. Also, like I mentioned earlier I like to shop at second hand stores, and craft stores (which usually have great coupons) for little details, crates, and mason jars, and I like to get a few items on Etsy and Amazon if I need something special. You can also plan to do the food and/or dessert bar with someone. For example, my sisters and I generally work on them together, which makes the work and cost go down, as it is divided among two or three people. The general thing that I try to keep in mind when I am hosting or catering any party though is that I am doing it to bless the person that we are celebrating, or just to bless my guests! When you think of it that way, it always makes the time and money invested worth while!
Now, to give you guys an even better idea on how to put these steps together I thought I’d share a few pictures of some events I prepared food and dessert bars for! Here is an example of a salad bar that Id did for my sister Emily’s wedding shower. The shower was held at my sister Sarah’s house this past summer.
We also did a dessert bar for her shower, which was really fun. It was sort of a ‘build your own trifle’ theme, and Sarah had cute little sunday cups for each girl to build their own mini dessert parfait in.
Emily’s wedding colors were coral and gold, so I threw in a few items to tie in her colors.
The beautiful bride had a great day, and it certainly was a shower to remember!
Another bridal shower that I recently did the dessert bar for was my good friend Heather. This shower was put on by my friend Dayna (who is also an amazing photographer, and took some of these amazing photo’s! :)) The theme for this party was a tea party, with whites and golds being her colors, so we did something a little more elegant, yet still rustic because it was outdoors.
Dayna asked friends and family to borrow tea cups, and plates, which helped lower the cost, and she rented a lot of the other items, such as the barrel table, crates, and linens.
Dayna also made all the tags for everything, and used a lot of her chalk boards that she already had to make signs for things. This attention to detail really made each item feel personalized and very special.
For the dessert bar, I chose to do cake pops and cookies that were the brides favorite flavors, (pistachio and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies), and I even made a personal little pistachio cake for the bride to enjoy after the shower!
I also made no bake cheesecake trifles (recipe coming soon), white chocolate drizzled rice crispy treats, blondies, and chocolate covered pretzels. For most of these items, I made healthier options whenever possible.
Here I catered a business meeting for 40 + women! I did a breakfast bar, followed by a salad and dessert bar for lunch!
I hope these ‘how to’ steps were helpful in learning how to set up a food or dessert bar! It really can be quite fun, and they certainly do present quite beautifully at any party! You can keep it quite simple, or do something extravagant if you choose, but the key is to have fun and celebrate the ones you love!
The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword! When we pray according to promises in the Word of God, we are praying in agreement with what God says about us! Nothing has impacted or changed my life more than when I found promises in the Word of God, wrote them down on notecards, and put them around my house, car, or wherever I could see them throughout the day! I started doing this years ago, and it was so life-changing, that I have continued to do it ever since! Whatever season we may be in, or whatever difficulties we may be facing, God’s Word has an answer, a promise, and and way out! When we agree and focus our attention on these promises, we can and will overcome anything that comes our way!
I wrote these prayers using scriptures from the Word of God that relate to different emotional battles that we all may go through in life. There is no ‘magic’ formula to praying these prayers. In fact, the way to develop a powerful, effective prayer life is by simply spending time with the Lord every day, which can and should include praying from your heart!
I would also encourage you to ask the Lord to show you scriptures that He has specifically for you…But I hope this helps get you started! I pray you are encouraged today by these prayers, and that the awesome Word of God reminds you who are in Christ, and the overcoming victory that you can have in Him!
Feel free to print these scripture-based prayers out for yourself! You could also write them down on notecards, in a journal, or share them with friends/family! To print out a PDF version click here!
Last week I had the honor of being part of a “Red Carpet Royalty” youth girls event at my dear friend Dayna’s house. Dayna is a youth leader at her church and she wanted to do something really special for the girls, where she made them feel like the royalty that they are, being God’s daughters! It was quite an amazing night, where we celebrated the unique beauty that God has place inside each one of us!
Here are some pictures from this incredible night! (A big thanks to Dayna for sharing the lovely photos from the evening as well!) I hope this post reminds you that every woman is truly beautiful and created special and unique by our creator!
The night started by the girls trying on and picking out a dress to wear. The dresses were lightly worn dresses that were donated. This allowed us to have a whole ‘wardrobe’ of dresses for the girls to pick from.
After the girls picked their dress, we did their hair and make up. The point of this was not to focus on the ‘external’ beauty, but we did want them to feel like it was a special night, and a little make up, dresses, and getting their hair done truly made them feel like it was a “red carpet night”
After we were all ready, we took pictures in Dayna’s studio. We each took a turn to write one word that describes our testimony!
To make the girls feel ‘extra’ special (and like the royalty they are) we even rented a limo for the evening, decked out with a red carpet! :)
We blasted Hillsong Young & Free and danced the whole way to the restaurant, (one of my favorite parts of the night!) :)
We ate at Mongolian BBQ, and had dessert at a frozen yogurt shop! Talk about fun!
The BEST part of entire night however was when we all came back to Dayna’s house and each of the ‘leaders’ (including myself) shared our testimonies as the girls gathered around and listened. It was pretty amazing because out of the six leaders, we each had an entirely different testimony that could potentially reach into each girls heart in a unique way.
I personally started my testimony off by saying “If I could talk to my 16 year old self, I would say…” Because, boy do I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self what is really important in this life! It was amazing to be able to share these bits of encouragement and wisdom with these girls, and to pray with them at the end of the night.
Overall, it was such a blessing to pour into each one of these young women, knowing that each one of them are precious daughters of the King of Kings! I hope this post blessed, encouraged, and even inspired you guys to reach out to young women in your own lives and pour into them in some way! Just think of what an amazing thing it is to share what God has taught you to the next generation! Now that my friends is the power of a testimony at work! :)
Here are my top 10 tips for making workouts more enjoyable:
To get you started, here is a fun & motivating partner workout!
|Circuit #||Partner #1||Partner #2|
|One||20 Squat Jumps||High Knees until Partner #1 is Done|
|Two||20 Push Ups||Mountain Climbers until Partner #1 is Done|
|Three||20 Reverse Stepping Lunges (DB in hand optional)||Jump Rope (imaginary JR is OK) until Partner #1 is Done|
|Four||20 Tricep Dips on Bench/Chair||Plank until Partner #1 is Done|
|Five||20 Lunge Jumps||Burpees (up-downs) until Partner #1 is Done|
|Six||20 Wide Hand Placement Push Ups||Jumping Jacks until Partner #1 is Done|
|Now do Partner #2 Circuit||Now do Partner #1 Circuit|
The last recipe contest I held here at Dashing Dish was the protein shake competition. It was a huge success, and I loved hearing the creative recipe variations you guys came up with! Since it is summer, and we seem to have a few extra hours ‘added’ to our days, I thought, why not hold another Recipe Contest!
As you all know, I love my protein shakes, but recently I have been equally enjoying my overnight protein oatmeal! The great thing about overnight oatmeal is that you can prepare it well in advance, it is portable, it sticks with you well until lunch time, and let’s face it- its pretty delicious! With that being said, I would love to see some of the creative spins that you put on this wonderfully delicious and easy breakfast! I can’t wait to hear what you guys come up with!
Prizes: The winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card and a publication of the winning recipe on Dashing Dish! Runner up will receive their choice of a Dashing Dish Meal Plan.
How to enter: Using my protein overnight oatmeal base (listed below), simply add your own ingredients and flavor variations to create a flavor and name of your very own oatmeal and submit the entry form below.
Base for protein overnight oatmeal:
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, be creative, and most importantly, have fun!
The contest will be closed on July 25, 2014 and I will announce the winner/runner up on Facebook and Twitter. The winner/runner up will also be notified by email, so be sure to include that with your entry!
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.~ Proverbs 4:23
Proverbs 4:23 is both instruction and explanation. God first instructs us to guard our hearts. Then He explains why it is so important: because whatever is in our hearts will “determine the course” of our lives. In other words, whatever we put into our hearts will impact our lives in one way or another. That is why it is so important to make careful choices about what we let come into our eyes and ears, because they are the gateway to our hearts (Matthew 6:22).
But God doesn’t mean we need to live isolated from this world, tucked away so that we don’t have to worry about encountering negative input, but we do need to think twice about what we watch, read, and listen to if we want to live in a way that honors and glorifies God. Paul offered us this very practical advice for guarding our hearts “Whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Is there an area in your life where you can begin to guard your heart more carefully? If so, I encourage you to submit that to the Lord today.
Prayer: Lord, please help me guard my heart from everything in this world that would pull me away from You. and to fill it with praiseworthy thoughts that glorify You. And I ask You, Lord, to keep me on the course of life that You have planned for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Traveling can be so refreshing. It is a time away from the every day ‘routine’ and a time to rest and relax! This can also mean a time of seriously getting off track when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To some to degree, this can be a good thing- I always think it is good to change things up from time to time, so I take this opportunity to try some new foods, enjoy a few treats, and shake up my workouts!
However, if you don’t plan ahead, it can definitely go from being a good ‘change’ to a bad one, especially if you find yourself completely skimping out on fiber, water, and indulge in too much sugar and processed foods. Without some sort of balance, I can tell you from past experience that it is only a matter of time before you start to notice that your body (especially your digestive system) will not be happy!
For that reason, I always make sure I plan ahead when I travel and bring some healthy snacks and options with me. I hope this inspires you guys to plan ahead and pack some of your own favorite healthy treats on your next vacation! In the end, I can promise that your body will thank you!
For snacks I like to bring fruit, particularly apples because they are high in fiber and lower in sugar. They also keep fresh for a long time. I also like to bring a small bag of baby carrots. I am not a huge fan of eating them once they are warm, so I try to eat those first when I’m on a long car ride, or I bring a small cooler or lunch bag if possible. I also enjoy small 100 calorie bags of popcorn on trips, because let’s face it, sometimes you need something salty and crunchy! I found this amazing kettle corn at Trader Joes, and it is amazing! I always try to stock up on it if I know I’m going to be traveling.
Whenever I travel, I try to pack some good sources of protein that are portable. The best option I have found when I don’t have access to a cooler or fridge is protein powder and peanut flour. I also bring oats with me and make peanut butter protein oatmeal with just a little water, oats, stevia, peanut flour, and protein powder! You would be amazed at how good it tastes and how much it fills you up!
I also enjoy protein bars when I travel, because there are times when you need protein, and fast! I like Mojo, Quest, Chocolite, and Think Thins! The main thing to look at with bars is the calories, protein, and sugar! I always check to make sure the calories are not much over 200 per bar, the sugar is less than 10 grams, and the protein is around 10-20 grams per bar.
I don’t always bring wrap bread with me, but if I am going somewhere that I can prepare my own food (and I will have a kitchen and fridge), then I like to bring a few packs of high fiber wraps with me. Wrap sandwiches are great for packing up in a cooler and taking with you to the beach for example! Jospeph’s and La Tortilla are my favorite brands. High fiber bran crackers are also a great thing to have around for a quick snack! I like to put a little peanut butter and low sugar jelly on them or some tuna salad!
I love to bring a water bottle with me just about everywhere I go. I like to fill it up with ice water and carry a few all natural drink mixes around in my purse! That way I always stay hydrated, without filling up on chemicals, sugar, or calories that are in most beverages!
If possible, I like to make a batch of my homemade muffins to bring with me. I love bringing muffins to snack on because they taste delicious and are packed with protein and fiber to keep me satisfied for a long time! They also stay good for about 1 week, which is perfect for a trip!
And last but not least, I do like to bring a few different flavors of gum. Now, I am the first to admit that there are chemicals in sugar free gum, but to me, if you chew it in moderation, I feel like it’s better than chewing on sugary gum anytime, especially when it comes to my teeth. I like the dessert gums by Extra, Orbit and Trident flavors!
These are just a few ideas of some of my favorite travel snacks and treats! Of course, it really depends on the type of trip you are going on, how you are traveling, and where you are going, but I almost always try to plan ahead and pack accordingly. Being prepared and planning ahead is one of the best things you could do when traveling! I also always carry stevia packets in my purse (I like to use them in my coffee), and I try to always have a protein bar in my purse as well just in case!
Overall, when I am on vacation, I try to be really flexible and enjoy new things…That is what vacation is about after all! However, I try to pick healthier options, and get active in some way every day! If you are traveling this summer, I hope this provided some ideas for your next trip!
If you are looking to find any of these items, many of them can be found on my Favorite Products List!
Happy Thursday Everyone! Last week (June 17th to be exact) was my 29th birthday.I can honestly say my 20′s were a time of great pruning, weeding, growing my roots down deep in Christ, and growing, growing, growing! I am looking forward to continuing my race, running each day with my eyes fixed on the author of my life~ Jesus! The more that I fall in love with Jesus, the more that I want to give my life as an offering to Him!
I wanted to share a few of the photos from my birthday bash. I don’t know about you guys, but in my family we have a few traditions for birthdays, one of which is my ice cream cake! I make everyone their own personalized cake based on their favorite flavors each year! We also do grilled kabobs of some sort for everyones special day! I love birthdays for that very reason…Spending time with family, carrying on traditions!
This year I got a special surprise that I wasn’t expecting at all, which was a fully decorated office by my sister Sarah! It was one of the greatest birthday gifts I have ever received to say the least! I came home from my parents house and my husband said, “Hey Kate, what’s that in your office!?!” I looked in and my jaw dropped! I said that I felt like I was on a home decorating show! :) Thank you Sarah!!! I’m so blessed by the beautiful atmosphere she created in this room that I spend so much time in!
She got me a recipe binder to keep some of my favorite recipes in, which is such a treasure!
The next day, on my actual birthday, I woke up to yet another suprise from my other sister Emily! Talk about birthday blessings, and amazing sisters! :) She bought me some of my favorite little things!
For breakfast I had a protein shake of course! Since it was my birthday, I had to top it with some Redi Whip and chocolate rice cereal (my husbands) to make it extra special of course!
For lunch we went to Cheesecake Factory, which is one of my favorite restaurants! It just opened a few months ago here in Michigan, and it is so popular that the wait is 6+ hours at times! Luckily, since we went on a weekday for lunch we got right in!
For lunch my sister Emily and I had the Mexican Tortilla Salad! (This salad is on their Skinnylicious menu, which I love! It has tons of flavorful, yet lower calorie options.)
Cheesecake Factory is located in a mall, so of course we had to go shopping! I love Sephora when I am in the mood to play with fun makeup and products! Who doesn’t love exploring all the wonderful lipgloss colors out there after all!?! Although I always end up trying on a bunch of stuff on my hand, I almost always leave with nothing, unless it’s something I actually need, (thank you Dave Ramsey!) ;)
After leaving the mall we had some time to kill before dinner, so of course we had to make a Frozen Yogurt stop! It was my birthday after all- this is a birthday must on a birthday in my opinion! ;)
Afterwards we went back to my parents house where I got to sit and relax while my sisters and mom prepared the dinner! I obviously LOVE to cook, but it was nice to just enjoy time with the family for once!
And I got to spend a little extra time cuddling this cutie-pa-tootie, (my parent’s dog Izzy)! ;)
For dinner we had the traditional grilled chicken and veggie kabobs, baked whole grain pita, and a great big salad! My faves in the summer!
After dinner I opened gifts…One of which was a Dessert Bullet from my parents! This gift is right up my alley! It is a frozen yogurt maker where you basically grind up frozen fruit and Greek yogurt to make your own ice cream blend! Talk about YUM!!! I can’t wait to experiment with this fun kitchen gadget and see what kind of recipes I whip up!
I also got a few more fun things for my new office, and some really cute Asics tennis shoes from my sisters!
My husband got me a really cute sweatshirt and dress, which was pretty darn good for a guy to pick out by himself I must say!
For dessert, I had to make the peanut butter ice cream cake of course! There is no other flavor that tops the combination of peanut butter and chocolate in my opinion! :) Luckily, most of my family also agrees!
It was a pretty darn good ending to a great day! :)
And just when I thought it was over… My husband had one last surprise for me! This past weekend he took me to Sur La Table for a cooking class! It has been a dream of mine for a long time to start teaching cooking classes out of my own home, but I really wanted to attend one first so that I could get some tips and ideas on how to structure a class.
My hubby signed us up for a class called, Baking with Seasonal Fruits. We ended up making a total of four dishes in a hour long class!
Our instructor, Erin was amazing! She was so cute and hilarious, which made it all the more fun!
We made a strawberry shortcake, a peach cobbler, blueberry muffins, and strawberry tart! None of it was actually healthy, but it certainly gave me lots of great ideas, and got me really excited to teach people how to cook and bake using simple healthy ingredients!
After the class we got to try some of the dishes we made. Everything tastes more delicious and satisfying when you make something from scratch yourself!
This was such an amazing experience, and I highly recommend everyone from the beginning home cook to the experienced chef. It was so much fun!
It was a wonderful way to celebrate the last year in my 20′s! Thank you for all the birthday wishes by the way! I felt beyond blessed, and my heart was full!!! xo Katie
If you haven’t already heard me rave about meal planning, I certainly encourage you to check out this post on how-to meal plan for the week. Making lunches ahead of time, (aka meal prepping) is one of the best things you can do in my opinion. It saves you time, and if you are used to eating out for lunch, it will certainly save you money (and calories) in the long run! One of my favorite things to prep ahead of time for lunches is salads. They are quick, easy, and delicious! The only problem with preparing them ahead of time is that they can get soggy if you don’t pack them up correctly….So I decided to share some of my favorite tips on how to prep fresh, crisp, and tasty salads ahead of time for the week!
I start preparing my salads by planning what type of salads I will be making that week. I am someone who could eat the same thing for a few days without getting tired of it, so I generally plan to have the same ingredients on my salads for that week. (I generally make about 4 salads per week, and the rest of the week I plan to eat leftovers from some of my dinners). After I plan out what type of salads I will be having, (as well as what other meals I will be making for the week), I make a list and go grocery shopping for my ingredients.
When I get home, I start preparing the meat/proteins for my salad. This is usually chicken- either grilled, baked, or cooked in the crockpot, and some times hard boiled eggs. Other sources of protein/fats that I like to add to salads are chickpeas, nuts, feta cheese, shaved parmesan, and avocado, just to name a few!
While my meat is cooking, I wash my fruits and vegetables, and lay them out on a big kitchen towel, which makes it easy to wash them all at once.
I then dry them individually, and slice them up. (You can put them in separate containers at this point, or if you don’t want to dirty dishes, you can just keep them on separate piles on the clean kitchen towel.)
Then, once my meat is cooked (and cooled), and my veggies are washed, dried, and chopped, I am ready to assemble my salads! The key here is to put the ingredients in layers (I like medium size mason jars, which I bought in a 12 pack at Walmart for a really good deal, or Tupperware/sealed containers of some sort. Layering will ensure that none of your ingredients get mushed which would make them bruised, soggy, and wet.
I recommend starting with your meat, and beans if you are using them. Next, start layering your vegetables, starting with the most firm vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, celery, etc. Then layer the cheese on if you are using any, and end your softest vegetables and fruit at the top. Also, if you are using nuts, hard boiled eggs, or avocado, I find that these are best on the very top because they tend to get soggy.
Now that you have your salad ‘toppings’ prepped, it’s time to prep the heart of the salad- the lettuce! I like to divide anywhere from 3-4 cups of romaine lettuce, spinach, (or shredded cabbage if I’m doing Asian inspired salads) among a few different Tupperware containers (depending on how many salads I am making that week). I like to package the lettuce in individual medium-big size containers (4-6 cup size) that will allow for some extra room at the top to pour and mix in my toppings when I am ready to eat my salad. I also pack up a few small containers (1/4-1/2 cup size) with dressing. (Please note that you don’t have to prep your lettuce ahead of time, as you may not even have room in your fridge to do so! The good thing is, throwing the lettuce in a container in the morning only takes a matter of seconds, and when your toppings are already pre-packed, the hard part is already done!)
Now to put it all together. When you are ready to enjoy your salad, simply open your jar/container with your salad ingredients, and your large Tupperware filled with lettuce, and pour the toppings and dressing on! If you want, you can put the lid back on the large Tupperware, and give your salad a shake to mix everything together, and enjoy!
Large Baking Pan- Where to Find: Home Goods, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams & Sonoma, etc.
Glass Nesting Mixing Bowls- Where to Find: Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams & Sonoma, etc.
Mini Spatula- Where to Find: Home Goods, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams & Sonoma, etc.
Ice Cream Scooper- Where to Find: Home Goods, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams & Sonoma, etc.
Sharp Kitchen Knife- Where to Find: Williams & Sonoma, etc. Brands to Consider: Lower-priced: Chicago Cutlery, Forschner / Higher-priced: Wüsthof, Henckels
Hand Held Mandolin Slicer- Where to Find: Home Goods, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.
Parchment Paper Muffin Liners- Where to Find: Kroger, etc.
Vegetable Spiralizer- Williams & Sonoma
Vitamix Blender- Williams & Sonoma
If you don’t want to invest in a Vitamix, I also recommend:
Ninja Blender, Kitchen Aid Blender, or a Magic Bullet