Make-Your-Own-Salad Bar

The only reason I am sharing this post with you today is because I couldn’t believe how such a simple idea turned into my kids eating WAY more salad than usual. Typically, if we’re having salad for dinner, I make up their plate and set it in front of them. They will usually eat it, but they don’t get excited about it…and rarely ask for seconds. A few days ago, I asked my daughter if she would like me to set up a ‘salad bar’ at home and let each person choose their own toppings. This idea absolutely appealed to her and she could not wait until dinner that night! I set everything out in a separate bowl on the kitchen table and let each kid walk down the line making their own salad (even if that meant little fingers going into each and every ingredient…). 😉 They were fairly predictable with what they chose, but there were a few surprises along the way! And I was shocked by the amounts of each veggie they added. I never would have put that many diced green peppers into one of my boys’ bowl…but he did all on his own! And then gobbled down each and every bite!

Make-Your-Own-Salad Bar

Anyway, they LOVED doing this and each kid ate two bowls of the salad they made for themselves. I offered one time to help them with their refill, but no…they were super excited to get out of their chair and make up their own bowl (for a second time). We will definitely be doing this again…and soon!!

Making their own salads

And, of course, the ideas for salad toppings are limitless! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Base: green leaf lettuce, iceberg, baby spinach
  • Protein: thinly sliced deli meat, cubed pieces of ham or turkey, bacon, walnuts, pecans, almond slivers, sliced hardboiled eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, apples
  • Veggies: peppers, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Optional: freshly shredded cheese or grated Parmesan

And for the salad dressing? For this dinner, I went with a very simple recipe:

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash of salt

Here are some of my other salad dressings you could try: Strawberry Dressing, Apple Cider Honey Mustard Dressing, Blueberry Dressing, or Western Dressing. I would like to start experimenting with making ranch dressing again. I’ve tried a few recipes, but they’ve all been just so-so. I’ll keep you posted on that one. 😉

Note: We try to use organic ingredients as much as possible, but especially when it comes to the dirty dozen list. I didn’t specify which ingredients were organic in my above list, but if I can find organic, I usually buy that.

Cleaned his entire bowl…twice!

What do you think? Have you tried this make-your-own-salad bar concept? It was definitely a HUGE hit in our household!!

Here is the salad dressing shaker I use and love:

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LeAnn Nome

Hi there! Here's a little info about me: I've been married to my husband for over 10 years and I'm a stay-at-home mom to our three young kids (a six year old daughter and four year old twin boys). As you might imagine, they keep me quite busy! In early 2013, we decided that we wanted to be a healthier family. To do this, we cut out all processed foods from our home and we now eat only REAL, whole foods. (When we're on vacation or at someone's house, we're not quite as strict.) We also try to exercise every day. Our goal is to raise healthy, happy kids...while maintaining our own health and happiness along the way! I hope you will follow along with us in our journey.

4 thoughts on “Make-Your-Own-Salad Bar

  1. I’ve tried this, but I first went the route of a make your own “taco salad”. I had beef, chicken, roasted peppers, corn, black beans, tomatos etc. I used your western dressing recipe, (which is how I found your blog)! I also am having a hard time finding a ranch recipe, I swear I have tried a least a dozen plus recipes.
    I think these meals are perfect for summer evenings or one of those last minute dinners!

    1. It IS so hard to find a good ranch dressing recipe–I’ve tried 5, at least…and then sort of gave up. 🙂 Your ‘taco salad’ bar sounds delicious, Josie!

  2. I tried this when I made tacos for my kids…they each get little bowls of lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes for toppings and they absolutely love that they can assemble it themselves.

    Regarding the ranch dressing – has a recipe – I tired her recipe for ranch dip and liked it, haven’t tried the ranch dressing one yet, but I will soon!

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