Sometimes meals can leave a lot to be desired. Whether it is soggy bread or questionable meat, mass produced food can really be a hit or a miss. However, salad bar can be a life saver in these situations. Salad bar, with enough creativity, can be so much more than just salad, especially during May, National Salad Month

Here are some inventive ways to maximize what your salad bar has to offer. 


vegetable, cucumber, pepper, tomato, salad
Christin Urso

My favorite part of going through the salad bar is how easy it is to stock up on snacks for later. Going to miss meals because of a hectic schedule? Thankfully, you can put any veggies in a bag and take it to go! Celery and peanut butter, cucumbers and ranch, carrots and hummus; the possibilities are endless. So next time you want something more than a bag of chips, hit the salad bar for a nutritious alternative. 

2. Sandwiches

sandwich, bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese, ham, bacon
Jocelyn Hsu

Think about your favorite sandwich. Does it have lettuce and vegetables? What other convenient locations also provides lettuce and vegetables? Oh that's right, salad bars do! Next time you want sandwich, grab two pieces of bread and see what your salad bar has to offer for fillings. Fill your sandwich with anything and everything. This also applies to wraps which are even more convenient on the go. 

3. Steamed Vegetables

broccoli, cabbage, vegetable, cauliflower
Kristine Mahan

Microwaves have positively impacted the lives of college students worldwide. They can also transform raw vegetables to steamed vegetable in minutes. Next time you want steamed vegetables, go to your salad bar and fill a bowl with anything from broccoli to carrots. Next, you will want to add 1-3 tablespoons of water to the bowl depending on the amount of vegetables (for about one pound of broccoli you will need 3 tablespoons of water). Cover the bowl tightly before microwaving. A plate works well in this situation. Finally, place the bowl and plate into the microwave and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes. When done, sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.

4. Mason Jar

Grant Sorbo

Looking for a convenient and eco-friendly way to pack your salad? Mason jars, when packed the right way, can transform your on-the-go experience. It is important to layer the jar correctly to avoid a soggy salad. 

First, start with your dressing. Having the dressing at the bottom of the jar is the best way to prevent sogginess. Next, add your crisp vegetables that will not absorb the dressing as quickly as other vegetables. Think about the difference between carrots and mushrooms in this situation. The next layer will be the softer vegetables like mushrooms and corn followed by a layer of more delicate ingredients like cheese. The last thing to be added to the jar should be your greens. Whether its romaine, spinach, kale or any combination of the three, adding them last will ensure crisp salad on the go. Shake to combine and enjoy! 

5. Mix it up

salad, lettuce, vegetable, corn, tomato, pepper, corn salad, onion
Kristine Mahan

Sometimes its difficult to think a new salad combinations. So here are some ideas to spice up your salad routine: 

Tip #1: Try a different base

Swapping your typical lettuce for a different green can transform your typical salad into something new. Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, use the toppings and dressing that you would use on your everyday salad and toss them with fresh pasta to create a new pasta salad. 

Tip #2: Add some texture 

By adding different textures to your meal, you will walk away feeling more satisfied with your choice. My favorite addition to salads are nuts, dried fruit, and different cheeses. Switching textures and flavors can transform a boring salad.

Tip #3: New dressing 

Salad dressing can ultimately make or break a salad. Too much dressing can make a salad soggy and too little can leave you with dry greens. Also, using the same dressing over and over again can get really old really fast. By changing dressings, or making your own, you can revamp any salad with minimal effort.