Several months ago an old friend messaged me, telling me she’d be in town and that we should do a “salad-in-a-jar party” together! Who knew that a few months later, I would thank her for changing my life?! Here’s what I have seen for the benefits of doing a regular “salad party”:
- I get to stay in touch with old friends I normally don’t see.
- I’ve been able to get to know new ladies that live close to me.
- I have four salads deliciously ready for me to eat at a moment’s whim!
- These salads are fresh, more filling and cheaper than a ready-made salad from the grocery store.
- My husband likes taking them to work for lunch, which saves us money and he eats healthier.
- My kids get a chance to play with others while mom is productive.
- I have a reason and a deadline to get my kitchen a little cleaner for company 🙂
- These salads have a snow-ball effect. I’m fueling my body with fresh nutrients when I need it and then off to the next good thing!
- I’m trying new ingredients and techniques for great salads.
- We all experience greater productivity when everyone brings a big batch of a few ingredients. I get more variety in my salad, with less work.
- The conversations at our salad group often bring out other ideas to make our families healthier and happier!
There are many names for these: salad-in-a-jar parties, “salad group”, monthly mason get-togethers (I totally just made that one up! 😉 haha!) Anyway- I ended up calling mine a “monthly salad party”… Which turned into two different monthly groups and then that recently turned into me doing these salads weekly! I’m sure there will be many Tuesdays that it’s just me, making lunches for me and my hubby.
Here’s our salad party in a nut-shell:
We bring 4 quart-sized containers (Tupperware, wide-mouthed mason jars, etc), 2-3 salad ingredients we like, and then we set up a big salad bar in my kitchen! I have a really long island bar but depending on the size of your crew, you could totally make your kitchen work. (More on that in Step 5). We’re not making any special recipe, we just make different salads however we want! We simply go through the line and assemble our lunches for that week. Then, we usually finish off the leftover ingredients and make a little salad to eat there in my kitchen and visit 🙂
So how exactly do we get this party started?
Step 1: Make a List of People to Invite
Even just having one other person to do this with will still get you most of benefits I mentioned above. You’ll get the social interaction, the productive meal prepping time (that actually happens if someone’s counting on you!) and you’ll have more salad ingredients from someone else.
My invite list started with ladies in my neighborhood. We live in an area where people get to know each other through church and a neighborhood Facebook page, so I had about 20 people that came to mind. I sent everyone an email letting them know what I was wanting to start, and let them get back to me if they were interested. There were a few people that responded, but I know not everyone loves handling things by email… So- I reached out in person or texted a few to see if they had interest. Once you’ve figured out who you want to invite monthly, then proceed to Step 2. 🙂
Step 2: Start an Online Sign-up Sheet
I mentioned that the first party I attended was started by my friend. She used a link to a website that helped us know what to sign up for, called: “sign-up genius“. Sign Up Genius allows you to send a link to your friends (via text, email, on a Facebook post, etc) and they’re able to see what ingredients are requested and sign up for them online!
For my first party, I thought I could get by just having people bring a few ingredients they had on hand and it would all work out. But, I could tell people were nervous about what to bring, so as soon as I sent out a link to the sign-up genius, people signed up. People seemed to be more comfortable knowing what ingredients were wanted and that no one was doubling up. So- I highly recommend having an official sign up that can be updated dynamically online. Signupgenius.com is great or you really could do a google docs spreadsheet if that seems easier!
For sign up genius:
A) First, open your free account.
B) Then, click “Create a sign-up”. You’ll enter a name for your group, and a describe the event for your friends to read a little more info. This is what I have on my description:
Sign up for 2-3 ingredients- 1 that is super easy, 1 that you chop or prepare in some way before coming, OR feel free to grab 3 super easy ones!
We will come home with 4 quart-sized salads, so that means we need to BRING enough ingredients to fill that much space. Aim for 6-8 cups to contribute, depending on what you have, that should fill us! Also, don’t forget your quart-sized containers. I like to do 8 salads, so feel free to adjust your contribution for what you want to take home.
You’re welcome to byo dressing to put in the bottom of your salad jar, but I usually add dressing when we’re eating it!
Kids are welcome. They usually play great upstairs or in the backyard (enclosed)- but we could turn on Magic School Bus if that helps anyone 🙂
C) Next, you pick a theme, your date and time, and the slots. That’s where this Mommy Convos post is extra handy! We’ve got an excel sheet that you can just import in! Then you can edit a few slots to your liking rather than starting from scratch. This is the sign up I’ve come up with after doing this for a few months. So, it has a ton of options based on what I know we like and how many people we usually get. But you could start with a smaller list that only has things that you personally will enjoy!
D) Last, you pick a few settings and view your sign-up sheet online. Now you’ve created a link that’s ready for your friends!
Step 3: Send Your Invite
I send a group text several days before each party. Five days is just about right! Tell them you want to host a salad group next week, & include a link to the sign up. If you’re using the “sign up genius” link, you will get an email when someone signs up. I don’t get many responses to the group text, but those that want to come usually just respond via the online sign up. 🙂
Don’t worry if you’re the only person on the sign up! In my experience, people sign up last minute, like the day before the party. Several weeks ago, I thought it was going to be just me and one other lady. So, I ended up texting another 20 or so friends thinking and maybe one or two might come. Well… that morning, we had 11 people on the sign up! Usually I’ll invite 15-20 and get around 5 people- so keep that in mind and adjust to what you think you can fit in your home! Just know that if you invite 40 people, 11 of them could show up! We don’t call it a salad PARTY for nothing!
Step 4: Prepare Your Kitchen & Ingredients
The morning of the salad party, I like to hit Costco to get the right amount of greens for the group.
NOTE: The host provides the greens. (She’s the one that can easily figure how many are coming!) One large tub of spinach or spring mix will cover 3 people. I usually get one of each to cover 6 of us. Chopped romaine also does pretty well in these! It is not the end of the world if people will need to add some greens when they get home. The toppings are the hard part, in my opinion!
Ideally, I’ve got a clean floor and counter, dishwasher is free, and I’ve got my ingredients ready to go. I move all my bar stools away so we can easily navigate around the bar.
Step 5: Set Up Your Salad bar!
I mentioned I have a super long island, so we put everything all in one big line.
Here is the order:
- Non-absorbent veggies: carrots, broccoli, edamame, cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, corn, peas, etc.
- Absorbent veggies/protein: cucumber, quinoa, chickpeas, beans, chicken, eggs, etc.
- Greens: spinach and spring mix are so easy and store well. But, romaine is delish and stores just as well for me. (Our “salad party” salads are always gone within about 5 days)
- Crunchy toppings: Almonds, seeds, craisins, etc.
If you have a more “average-sized” kitchen/counter-space, I’d recommend everyone sets their purses in another room so you can use all the space for official salad business! Everyone will need to make a little spot for their containers (empty, and then back when they’re full). When we have about 5 or 6 of us, plus the salad bar- it’s a lot of counter/table space!
And… that’s it! Once you’ve got most of your group in your home, send someone at the bar to start the salad line. This week I got together with just one friend and I had time to label my containers with a dry erase marker. I really liked that! *Note: be sure to rub off your markings before you run them through the dishwasher. The heated dry seems to set the marker.
Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions for starting a “salad party” or salad group of some kind- I think you’ll love it!