That’s right, you don’t have to eat it immediately

Image: Summery salad

Summer is most definitely salad season, and there is no better lunch than a big, colourful bowl full of crunchy vegetables and some tasty protein, tossed with delicious dressing.

Chopping and preparing can be time-consuming and tedious, so here’s how to get it all done in one go and save your early mornings for extra sleep.

Step 1: Gather your containers

You’ll need something airtight, to keep those veggies nice and fresh, so plastic containers with tight-fitting lids are best for this. They’re also light and portable if you’re taking them out and about. Choose flattish, rectangular boxes, with plenty of room for on-the-day tossing. You’ll also need smaller tubs for wetter ingredients and dressings.

Step 2: Get your greens

Choose whole heads of lettuce where possible, as these will keep better and are generally more economical. Go for as many dark-green and colourful types as possible, such as baby spinach, rocket, kale, chicory and radicchio, as they all have tons of flavour. Chop up your greens and add to your five containers. Putting a sheet of kitchen paper in the bottom will help to absorb any moisture left after washing the leaves.

Step 3: Vary your veg

There are so many possibilities that your salad can be different every day. Choose your favourites from: grated carrot, celery, cucumber, radishes, peppers, red and white cabbage, sprouting beans, broccoli, tomatoes (whole cherry tomatoes work best here), spring onions and mushrooms. Remember that avocados, and vegetables in jars such as artichokes and olives should be chopped and added only the night before.

Step 4: Put in plenty of pulses and grains

Beans, pulses and grains add substance to a salad and really fill you up. They are also great at absorbing the flavours of the dressing. Try chickpeas, beans, cooked and cooled lentils, brown rice, quinoa, and couscous.

Step 5: Pack it with protein

Here is where you can really set the tone for your salad, and the possibilities are endless. Meat-lovers can try sliced chicken, turkey, ham, spicy cooked beef, prosciutto and cooked and crumbled bacon; fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and prawns work well; and vegetarians can add eggs, tofu, cheese, nuts and seeds.

Step 6: Fruit can be fabulous

Blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, melon, mango and papaya can all be delicious additions to salads. Try them with different combinations and dressings to see which you like – you may be pleasantly surprised

Step 7: Delicious dressings

Try as many different dressings as you can, from the basic balsamic and olive oil to taste-bud tingling Asian flavours. Make them up and store them in small containers or jars, ready to add and toss the minute you want to eat. 

Step 8: Try some toppings

Seeds and roughly chopped nuts make crunchy, tasty toppings for salads. Seeds to try are: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and chia; while nuts can include Brazil, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds.

Step 9: Mix and eat

Ready to eat? Take out your container of salad, add your dressing, toss and top, enjoy!