21 Make-Ahead Salads You Can Easily Pack for Lunch

updated Jul 31, 2023
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Kale and quinoa salad in large white bowl with serving utensils inside the bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’re thinking of ways to save money and enjoy fresh, wholesome meals, we’ve got a solution that will help you tackle both: Before the week gets rolling, prep a big batch of hearty salad you can pull out for lunch all week long.

These salad recipes include whole grains, hearty proteins, and plenty of beans and other additions to make sure they’re satisfying. No wimpy salads here! These will keep you full and energized through the rest of the work day. For each of these recipes, we’ve also included a tip for making sure they stay perfectly fresh and don’t wilt before lunchtime rolls around. Usually this is nothing more than packing the dressing on the side, so don’t worry about having to put in extra work.

Here are 20 make-ahead salads to prep and eat all week long.

20 Make-Ahead Salads

1 / 21
Chickpea Salad
Combine chickpeas with a colorful mix of vegetables and tangy vinaigrette for a simple and satisfying salad that’s also naturally vegan.
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2 / 21
Crunchy Cabbage Slaw with Farro, Pecorino, and Dates
Here's a salad that's absolutely free of sad wilted lettuce and full of the good stuff: crunchy red cabbage, shredded kale, sturdy bits of dates, farro, and Pecorino cheese. The slaw is guaranteed by design to last for days but to take things up a notch, you can start by adding 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss in what's unused to refresh the salad as the week continues.
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3 / 21
Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
The great thing about using shredded Brussels sprouts as a salad base is that you don't have to worry about anything wilting. You can toss them in the dressing, pack them in a container, and trust they'll be perfectly crunchy later that day. Just make sure to pack the croutons separately to keep them fresh.
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4 / 21
Farro and Broccoli Salad
This hearty make-ahead salad has farro, broccoli, smoked almonds, aged cheddar, golden raisins, and dried cranberries, and is served with a quick pickled shallot viniagrette. The flavors in this salad meld and mingle in the fridge, which means you can make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch all week without ever getting bored.
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5 / 21
Black Bean Salad with Corn and Avocado
Pack this hearty salad with corn tortillas, grilled chicken, or all by itself for a filling midday meal. To keep the avocado looking its best, pack it whole and slice it right before you eat. If you don't have time (or space) to do that at work, it's perfectly fine to cut it in advance — it will brown but that won't affect the flavor.
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6 / 21
Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives
The great thing about this hearty lentil salad is that you can toss everything together in the morning (dressing included) and not worry about anything wilting. If you plan to eat it throughout the week, just wait to add the mint until the last minute to make sure it doesn't turn brown.
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7 / 21
Kale & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes
This hearty kale salad, packed with quinoa, roasted veggies, and a creamy tahini dressing, is absolutely perfect for fall. Best of all, each of the salad components can be made and refrigerated in airtight containers up to 24 hours in advance and then dressed and tossed together when ready to serve.
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8 / 21
Taco Salad
This is the ultimate hearty salad — and it's easy to prep ahead. Just pack everything in separate piles, then mix it all together right before eating to keep the lettuce from getting soggy.
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9 / 21
Salmon Salad
Packing seafood for lunch is controversial, especially if you're heating it in the microwave, but there's no need to worry because this recipe is delicious served cold. Toss it in the vinaigrette at the last minute and you'll have a hearty lunch that's packed with protein.
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10 / 21
Spaghetti Salad Recipe
Spaghetti salad is the perfect make-ahead meal that's bursting with freshness. For a satisfying bite every time, sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley leaves right before serving.
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11 / 21
Trader Joe's Mediterranean Falafel Salad
If you shop at Trader Joe's, add this salad to your weekday lunch plan. It uses three TJ's shortcut ingredients to make a meal that is a serious meal prep dream. You can cook the falafel ahead of time and pack it with the salad without worrying about it getting soggy. Just pack the dressing separately.
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12 / 21
Raw and Roasted Radicchio Salad with Sweet Potato, Manchego, and Crunchy Seeds
This salad might look like a lot of work, but it's actually super easy to make in advance. You can roast the sweet potatoes ahead of time, so all you have to do is throw everything together during the week.
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13 / 21
Tomato Chickpea Salad
This hearty, lettuce-free salad is the perfect thing to make in bulk and eat all throughout the week. Pack it with pita bread, a cooked grain, or your favorite protein. If you're planning to make a big batch and take it to work multiple times in one week, wait to add that parsley until the morning of.
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14 / 21
BBQ Tofu Salad Bowls
This hearty tofu bowl is perfect for salad haters — you almost wouldn't know it even was a salad. There's plenty of barbecue flavor and crispy roasted veggies, but not a single leaf of lettuce in sight! Everything can be meal prepped the weekend before, then assembled and packed the morning you want to eat it. Pack the dressing in a separate container and you're good to go.
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15 / 21
Antipasto Grain Salad
This colorful grain salad is everything you love about your grocery store's olive bar, crammed into one wilt-proof salad. You can assemble the entire thing — dressing and all — days in advance without worrying about it getting soggy. Omit the mozzarella and you've made it vegan.
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16 / 21
Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Chopped salads are the perfect make-ahead lunch. They're easy to pack, super filling, and hold up well. This one is extra hearty, thanks to a base of cooked farro and a generous amount of salty feta. If you want to prep it ahead, just store the dressing on the side and toss it together before work.
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17 / 21
Tofu and Broccoli Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing
This salad uses a base of store-bought broccoli slaw instead of lettuce to make it super hearty and perfect for meal prep. You can toss everything in the dressing in the morning and it'll still be nice and crisp once lunchtime rolls around.
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18 / 21
Bacon & Spinach Orzo Salad
This hearty pasta salad can be completely assembled ahead of time and eaten cold or warmed up. The spinach is lightly cooked, so you don't have to worry about it staying crunchy.
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19 / 21
Chickpea Waldorf Salad
If you want to eat this classic Waldorf salad over a bed of fresh spinach, just pack it separately and toss it together when you're ready to eat. Otherwise, it's plenty tasty and filling without. The yogurt dressing — a lighter take on the classic mayo — is especially tangy and delicious.
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20 / 21
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This salad can be completely assembled in the morning — dressing and all. The quinoa absorbs any excess vinaigrette, so you don't need to worry about the veggies getting soggy.
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21 / 21
Tortellini Salad with Marinated Artichokes and Feta
This salad is simple to make because it leans on ingredients that are already seasoned and prepped, like cheesy tortellini and marinated artichokes. Then it's just dressed up with a simple homemade vinaigrette.
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