Prepping a bunch of salads on a Sunday makes life so much easier for the upcoming week! Italian chopped salads are always on my list of favorite meal planning recipes. Full of fresh veggies and Mediterranean flavors like artichokes, olives, and salami, these salads will soon be your go-to lunch option too!
Meal planning has definitely become a necessity in my life. If I don’t make time for prepping meals or ingredients on Sunday, my whole week is just a little more chaotic! And if I only have time for one thing, it’s going to be meal planning Italian chopped salads. Knowing I can grab a premade salad to bring to work, or even grab two of them and toss them together for a main dish dinner, is a life saver. Mornings are hectic at our house, so if I don’t have a healthy lunch ready to go, I will probably make a poor choice when I’m really hungry later in the day, and I’ll probably spend more money than I wanted on a mediocre meal.
The same is true for the days I’m home for lunch. As much as I like cooking and being creative, most days I’m happy to have a ready made salad waiting for me in the fridge. I don’t have to spend time thinking about what to make for lunch and I can instead start planning dinner! Because I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat or cook next. Everyone does that, right?
Let’s start with the lettuce, these are salads after all. I happen to love arugula, so I like to add that to pretty much every salad I make, but it works especially well here. For the Italian salads I used a spring greens mix and a baby spinach and arugula mix. Romaine would also work well.
The beauty of salads is that you can add any (or all) of the ingredients you like. For instance, I am not a fan of a lot of cheese in my salads, but if that is a favorite of yours, add some cubed provolone! Also, since we’re making these salads ahead of time, you won’t want to add ingredients that won’t hold up well in the fridge. Keep this in mind for crunchy things like croutons. If you want to have croutons in your salad, keep them in a separate container and add just before eating. Nobody likes soggy croutons.
When I was thinking about meal planning Italian chopped salads, I wanted a healthy salad of course, but more importantly, it had to be a delicious salad. Otherwise who would eat it? Not me, not my husband, and not my son. Okay, to be fair my son won’t eat this salad anyway, but he’s only 7, so I’ll give him a break. I used veggies that would stay crisp (lettuce, red bell peppers, cucumbers, and red onions), protein packed ingredients (turkey and chickpeas), and Italian-style ingredients (Genoa salami, marinated artichokes and olives). For crunch I added sunflower seeds because they hold up well even sitting for a few days in the fridge. For a little sweetness, I added my favorite dried cranberries.
To get into the weekly food prep mindset, turn on some good music, or listen to an audiobook while you chop your salad ingredients. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m cooking. Drink an iced latte, bribe a family member or friend to come into the kitchen and help (make them an iced latte too), make it fun!
Part of the appeal of a chopped salad is that, as the name implies, everything is chopped. It makes it really easy to eat, not having to wrestle with giant pieces of lettuce or other ingredients. Start your chopping by piling the lettuce and arugula up in a manageable bunch and giving it a rough chop. Keep chopping in bunches until you’ve chopped it all. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In addition to the lettuce, you’ll chop the other ingredients into bite sized pieces too. Except of course for the ingredients that don’t require any prep work, like the chickpeas, craisins, sunflower seeds and olives. If I’m feeling really ambitious, sometimes I slice the olives. You could ask yourself why I don’t just buy sliced olives. I like the option of having them either way, and I think the whole olives stay firmer in the can than the presliced ones, but I can’t back that up with scientific proof.
Once all of the ingredients are ready to go, it’s easiest to line up your containers and add the ingredients one at a time, starting with the lettuce.
Grab the next ingredient, in no particular order, and evenly distribute the contents into your containers.
It’s time for a sigh of relief. You just made six delicious Italian chopped salads to enjoy through the week! Lunch is now one less thing to think about.
P.S. – As long as you’re in the kitchen, drinking your latte, meal planning Italian chopped salads, why not make some dressing? Red wine vinaigrette and honey balsamic vinaigrette would both go perfectly with the Mediterranean flavors in the salads!
- 2-3 cups of lettuce per container, I used spring greens and arugula
- ½ red onion, small diced
- 1 red bell pepper, small diced
- 1-2 small Persian cucumbers, or ½ of an English cucumber, small diced
- 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 jar of marinated artichokes, chopped, tough leaves removed
- 1 can of black olives or whatever kind of olives you like
- 4 ounces of Italian salami, diced, I used sliced Genoa salami
- ½ pound of roasted turkey, large diced, I used deli turkey
- ½ cup of dried cranberries
- ½ cup of roasted, salted sunflower seeds
- Chop the lettuce and add 2-3 cups to each container.
- Chop the red onion, bell peppers, and cucumbers into bite sized pieces.
- Drain the artichokes and chop.
- Drain and rinse the olives and chickpeas.
- Chop the salami and turkey.
- Add the ingredients to the containers in equal amounts. Put on the lids and store in the refrigerator. Grab a salad for lunch!