It's not always easy to eat economically and nutritionally well when you're away from home. When preparing a lunch for work or school, it is difficult to avoid fattening and packaged foods, as they are convenient for transporting. Sitting down to a fresh salad is a food-conscious choice, but preparing your own salad ahead of time can be difficult, as packaging and transport tends to turn even the freshest prepared salad into a soggy mess. The trick to keeping a salad from going soggy is all in the packaging.
Wash out a medium-size plastic storage container that is taller than it is wide. The container must have a snap-locking lid. Salads and fresh vegetables keep best inside hard-walled containers, as they help prevent the possibility of crushing. Tall, plastic locking containers are the most convenient, although heavier glass containers can be used if necessary.
Fill the container with the heaviest items first so they sink to the bottom. Crushed vegetables release excess liquid, which in turn leads to sogginess. To avoid crushing vegetables, place the heavy items, such as cooked beans, carrots, green beans, chopped onion or chopped fruit, on the bottom of the container.
Fill a small container with the oil or dressing, and snap the lid on tightly. Place it directly on top of the vegetables in the tall container. Unless you purchase individual manufactured packets of salad dressings or oils, you must have small locking containers to hold the liquid items. You can find appropriate containers at most kitchen and home stores.
Fill small plastic zip-close bags with cheese, nuts or croutons to keep them from becoming soggy. Cheese "melts" when it comes in contact with moisture, while nuts and breadcrumbs absorb moisture like sponges. Place the bags on top of the dressing containers.
Pack the lettuce loosely on top of everything in the tall container, leaving a small head space at the top. Snap the container lid on tightly. The lettuce should be the very last thing in the container so it is not crushed. This is the most delicate of all the salad ingredients; without crisp, fresh lettuce, a salad is simply a soggy pile of vegetables.
Place the closed container inside an insulated lunch bag along with an ice pack to keep it cold. Lettuce and vegetables wilt in damp, warm conditions, so it is crucial that you keep your salad container cool to avoid sogginess. If possible, refrigerate the salad container once you arrive at work, school or whatever destination you are headed for.