If you love a salad bar while you are out, then you must try this homemade salad bar at your next social gathering!
And let me just preempt that next question with an “of course you can…and it will be delicious and well-received by your party guests or family members.”
Katie had the idea to create the salad bar pictured above as we celebrated her mom’s 60th birthday with family and friends. We wanted to go with a relaxed atmosphere and pool party. Setting out this fresh salad bar and having people eat when they wanted before or after swimming worked out perfectly.
What do I need to set up my homemade salad bar?
Ultimately, you can set items on the counter, but that would involve some coordination with everyone eating at the same time OR if you have a large family or party guest list it will mean that some folks will be eating a WARM salad, not a chilled, fresh, crsip one.
We purchased an under bed 70 quart Bella storage tote from Lowe’s that worked out perfectly for $20. One of the features we liked best was that BOTH ends of the tote folded up to the middle to make access easy. Other stores like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond have similar storage totes that would work just fine. After the party, you can easily rinse out the tote and re-purpose it for actual storage.
Assorted serving bowls
This is pretty simple. We incorporated some colored plastic bowls that we picked up at the Dollar Store which you can see pictured in the blog along with a variety of bowls we had around the house. (Using colored bowls was a great way to add even more eye catching color to the salad bar and tie in the party color scheme!) One thing to note is that when the ice begins to melt the bowls containing the salad bar options can become a little tricky to dish from as they begin to move around. It’s not THAT big of a deal if you keep the salad bar indoors out of the heat and save the set up to within an hour or so from the start of your party.
We used two 20 pound bags of ice over the course of 6 hours to keep the contents cold, which it did VERY effectively. We actually ended up just storing the vegetables that remained after the party ended in the tote overnight and everything was still cold the following morning!!
We used salad tongs for the lettuce. Plastic forks and spoons worked well for the other salad toppings. We do recommend that you chop your veggies up into smaller pieces for easier handling with the plastic silverware. (Wish we had done that with the cucumbers and green peppers pictured above.)
What items should I offer on my homemade salad bar?
There’s no wrong way to create a salad bar…but we recommend taking the same approach we do with making salads all the time. Incorporate a lot of different colors and textures. Add some lean protein options, incorporate some other side dishes like this amazing Healthy Quinoa Salad we used, and have a few salad dressing options. If you’re looking for a homemade dressing that goes well with all veggies you can try this homemade Vinaigrette.
- Green and Red Bell Peppers
- Shelled Edamame
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Diced Carrots
- Diced Red Onion
- Diced Cucumbers
- Grape Tomatoes
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Diced Grilled Chicken
- Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Sliced Button Mushrooms
- Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce Mix
- Spring Greens
Other ideas outside of the fresh greens and veggies are:
- Fruit tray with assorted berries
- Fruit tray with assorted melon
- Corn ships with salsa, Pico De Gallo and/or homemade guacamole
- Pita bread (or raw veggies) and hummus
We hope this “create your own salad bar” idea inspires you to mix things up at your next gathering! It worked well for ours. We had many happy party guests with beautiful plates filled with healthy food!
If you like this idea, please SHARE IT! If you decide to host your next gathering with this Salad Bar theme, make sure to upload a pic to our Facebook Page and tell us how it went.