Clean out the fridge for a nutritious, budget-savvy salad

Main-Dish Salad

Main-dish salad, April 2013

Do you find that as your refrigerator gets emptier you have produce odds and ends and leftovers that are still in good shape but aren’t enough for a dish of their own? Having a main-dish salad every so often will keep your supplies turned over and make good use of what you might otherwise have thrown out. I find that sorting down to the bottom of my produce bin also makes me aware of longer-lived foods I had forgotten about, like beets and carrots. After I’m finished sorting I not only have a wonderful salad, but my fridge is cleaned out and ready for a fresh supply of produce.

It might seem simple to throw together a salad, and of course it is. This “recipe,” actually more of a template, is meant to provide inspiration and to share some of my personal favorite salad ideas. As you select your ingredients, consider what flavors may or may not taste good together, and if something might ruin the salad for you, leave it out. Think about having on hand some item that will make the salad extra special. Avocados are often good. Also, I enjoy smoked fish such as salmon or trout. About one-third of a pound is plenty for two people.

Clean Out the Fridge Salad "Template"
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup leafy herbs, leaves only or leaves and stems roughly chopped (such as cilantro, parsley, basil)
  • 2 cups leftover or blanched vegetables such as green beans, green peas, snow peas, or carrots (see Notes)
  • AND/OR: 2 cups fresh vegetables such as grated carrot, sliced or grated zucchini, sliced or grated yellow squash, sliced or diced radishes, diced celery, finely diced celery root
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, chopped figs or dates, or other)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, sliced or cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) cooked or smoked meat or fish (flaked tuna, flaked salmon, crumbled bacon, or cubed beef, pork, chicken or other)
  • 4 tablespoons nuts (pecans, slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, or other) toasted 10 minutes at 300 degrees
  • Salad dressing: 2 tablespoons bottled dressing, or homemade vinaigrette: Place 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a small container. Mix in 2 teaspoons dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs and a pinch of salt. Optional additions: 5 finely chopped oil-cured olives or 1 finely chopped sun-dried tomato. Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, whisking with a fork until emulsified.
  1. Divide all ingredients between two large salad bowls as follows: Place greens and leafy herbs in bowls and toss gently to combine.
  2. Layer on blanched vegetables, fresh vegetables, and dried fruit.
  3. Place eggs, avocado, and meat or fish in separate areas on top of other ingredients.
  4. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle on nuts.
Serving size: (approximate) Calories: 700; Fat: 50g; Saturated fat: 8g; Carbohydrates: 45g; Sugar: 9g; Sodium: 400mg; Fiber: 15g; Protein: 28g; Cholesterol: 190mg.
To make tougher vegetables easier to eat in a salad, cut them into bite-sized pieces (cut carrots into “matchsticks”) and then blanch. To blanch, place in boiling water for a minute or two or until crisp-tender. Then drain and rinse with cold water.


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8 Responses to “Clean out the fridge for a nutritious, budget-savvy salad”

  1. Great tip! I love a big salad 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing it on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it.

    Also, I’d love for you to link up your blog to my new OAS & GF Bloggers page, a place to connect with other bloggers who sometimes write about being gluten free or having oral allergy syndrome : )

  2. This is a great standard for salads! I have a few vegetables itchin’ for this recipe.

    Also Eileen, I have a small question to ask of you. Would you mind emailing me? Thanks, and I hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

  3. Genie says:

    I need to do that more often.

  4. Terri Minni says:

    Hi Eileen,
    It is even healthier for your fruits and vegies if they are stored in a container that lets them breathe properly so they last longer. I sell Tupperware to help our family make ends meet and if you want to to a book party via mail and a Tupperconnect party you could earn lots of free Tupperware with a qualifying party and it’s Tupperware’s 65th anniversary right now.

    You have give me some great recipes because Leigh (my daughter) is Gluten intolerant.



    • Eileen Beran says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Terri. It’s so good to hear from you! I will keep your Tupperware party in mind – I didn’t realize people could do a mail party.

      Gluten intolerance certainly is a big challenge isn’t it? Both in what foods you can make at home and in social situations. But there is SOOOO much good, healthy food available that at our house we hardly miss the bread and grains.

      I’m happy I can help out!

  5. Kim Walters says:

    What a great frugal formula for a clean fridge AND a main dish salad! I would sub “Crispy Nuts” a la Nourishing Traditions (raw nuts soaked in salt brine overnight, then salted/dehydrated in the Excalibur ’til super crispy inside and out), either whole or finely chopped in the salad. Yum.

    • Eileen Beran says:

      Kim, I’ve been learning about crispy nuts but hadn’t thought of using them on a salad. They would be great for the crunch and more digestible. Thanks for your kind comment!

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