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The Bottom Shelf Salad Bar

I have learned, the hard way, that veggies never last as long as I would like them to.  I also found that if I don't have them ready-to-eat they go untouched.  Actually, they go untouched until I clean my fridge and I end up having to throw away my hard-earned dollar disguised as limp, lifeless celery.

As a way to keep my budget on track, my refrigerator a little cleaner, and my life a little easier, I designated my bottom shelf as my salad bar.  When I buy my veggies, I prepare my salad in my salad-spinner and add the salad basics like celery and carrots.

Salad - counter

I usually find that an entire bag of carrots and celery is too much to put into one salad, so I chop enough for the salad and store the "left overs" to have on-hand as a healthy snack.  I keep the carrots in a Produce Saver to help keep them from getting slimy, and the celery I cut into smaller stalks for dipping. (Note: Produce Savers are ideal for uncut vegetables. Use a TakeAlong or Easy Find Lids container to store any cut vegetables.)

Salad - fridge

I like to chop up tomatoes and keep them separate so I don't end up with a bunch of juice and seeds making my salad soggy.  Also, I buy a chunk of lean turkey ham to dice on top or boil a few eggs to store on my Salad Bar Shelf when I get tired of the ham.

My Salad Bar is a huge time saver, convenient, and healthy. This has helped me keep my refrigerator more organized, lessen the likelihood of spoiled food, and fatten up my wallet.  Believe it or not, I don't feel the urge to hit the drive-thru after a late night of work or school because I have a healthy, ready-to-eat alternative waiting on me at home.

Some links for healthy eating and keeping a cleaner refrigerator:

http://weightloss.about.com/od/eatsmart/a/fridgetips.htm

http://www.ehow.com/how_4497252_keep-refrigerator-clean-foods-safe.html

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  26. Jamie Baker October 20, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Thank you for the tips with the plastic knife. I have never heard of this before, but I am always willing to give any new idea a try. I always move my veggies to a different shelf if I am storing raw meat, but that’s not often. It is a great and safe reminder though, so thank you.

  27. cobu October 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    Hi Jamie,
    this is a great idea!
    Another tip that might help is to use a plastic knife to cut your veggies instead of other knives made with other metals. This prevents oxidation extending the shelf life of cut fruits and veggies! Another thing is that, usually, it is not recommended to store fresh foods on the bottom shelf d/t issues with food contamination. A safer approach would be to keep them on the top shelf and keep raw meats or meat products on the bottom shelf 🙂
    Best

  28. Megan G November 25, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Thanks for the tips Jamie!

  29. Jamie Baker November 25, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    TypePad HTML Email
    The Salad Spinner I use does keep my lettuce fresh for about 5 days, which I found at a discount store for only a few dollars. Before I purchased it, I had a few others tricks I
    used; however,I would avoid the Produce Keeper as this container is ideal for uncut veggies.
    I used to keep my ready-to-eat lettuce in a large Rubbermaid Easy Find Lidscontainer lined with damp paper towels. It worked well at keeping the lettuce from getting
    brown.
    Also, if you are a fan of wedge salads, you can wrap your lettuce in aluminum foil to keep it fresh. I love wedge salads because you have to use a knife to eat it, so it tends to
    feel like I am eating something heartier than just a salad. The foil kept it really crisp!

  30. Megan G November 24, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    Great plan. I am guilty of the drive through runs after a late game or practice, so maybe I will try the fridge salad bar instead. My problem is keeping salad/spinach from going bad. Do you keep that keep pretty well in the salad spinner or a produce saver? Or do you use anything else to keep lettuce/salad fresh?

  31. Jamie Baker November 24, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    TypePad HTML Email
    Lauren, I am a lover of dried cranberries, feta cheese,
    and almond slivers on salads, so now Im going to have to stock my cupboards. Thanks for the great idea!
    Janis, I am so glad I could inspire you. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I cant wait to add left over turkey to my
    spread. Enjoy!

  32. Janis November 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    I am feeling very inspired! I didn’t realize how many fresh vegetables were thrown out until I got a green bin. Now I am aware of it, and feel very guilty. A fridge salad bar is a great idea!

  33. Lauren Spahr November 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Jaime, great idea! I also use large food storage containers in my pantry to store bags of nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts) and various dried fruits (cherries, cranberries) to mix in, to add into the fresh ingredients. I typically also have blue cheese crumbles or goat cheese in the little tubs handy in the fridge as well.

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