This Caterer’s Surprising Trick Will Keep Your Lunch Salad Fresh for Days

published Jul 10, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

I know I should be eating more salad. More vegetables. More of the green stuff. But on a busy day, finding time to make salad for lunch can feel like a luxury I don’t have. If I could make salad ahead of time without the lettuce turning into a sad, wilty pile that makes a burger and french fries look better than ever, then maybe we can talk. This is exactly the promise of the kitchen hack that longtime caterer and chef Timothy Clowers demonstrated for keeping chopped salad fresh for up to four days.

In a recent Instagram post, Clowers takes a bowl of salad — pre-dressed! — and covers it with a couple of paper towels, pressing the towels onto the greens, then wraps a single layer of plastic wrap completely around the salad bowl. All seems pretty obvious, but then he flips over the bowl and places it upside down in the refrigerator. Days pass and Clowers unwraps the bowl, removes the paper towels, and (you know where this story is going) reveals how the salad is still crisp and fresh — no wilting lettuce, and zero moisture buildup. 

Typically we meal prep salads without greens, like this marinated white bean recipe, too worried that the delicate lettuces won’t live more than a day. “We usually think of make-ahead salads as being lettuce-free,” says The Kitchn staff writer Patty Catalano. “But with this you can prep a lot of lettuce for dinners and lunches ahead of time.” So what makes it work so well? “There’s a balancing act happening here,” Catalano said. “Paper towel wicks away excess moisture, and the plastic wrap keeps it humid so that the lettuce doesn’t dry out and wilt as quickly.” The Kitchn staff is convinced you don’t even need to turn the bowl upside down, as long as the paper towel and plastic wrap are secure. Senior Recipe Editor, Christine Gallary, adds, “If you line the bowl with paper towels first it will also work BUT it is harder to get rid of the paper towels.” 

Regardless of which method you choose, it looks like we all just found a pretty enticing reason to sneak more salad into our week.