5 Ways to Make School Salad Bars More Exciting

There’s a delicate balance between budget, taste, and nutritional guidelines when it comes to curating an irresistible salad bar in school cafeterias. Here are some fresh ideas to get kids excited about eating salad come lunchtime.

Add Some Crunch

A well-balanced salad includes a variety of tastes and textures. – Crisp vegetables like cucumbers and carrots can add different textures and a burst of color.

  • Provided your school isn’t a nut free facility, nuts are a great protein boost.
  • Choose heart-healthy ones like walnuts for an added benefit!
  • Croutons are always a kid-favorite, and a great way to put day-old bread to good use.

Get Fruity

Brighten up salads with a burst of fresh fruit.

  • For a good start, look to the classic pairing of strawberries and spinach.
  • Oranges help absorb the iron in nutrient-rich greens such as spinach. Even better, it compliments the flavor nicely.
  • Beloved by children, apple slices are an easy way to add appealing crunch and natural sweetness to your salad bar.
    • Pro Tip: Opal apples are an excellent variety to utilize since they’re naturally non-browning!

Be Adventurous

Offering unique “guest stars” is an exciting way to fill out your salad bar offerings, and you’ll find it’s a great technique to introduce kids to new fruits and vegetables in the process.

  • Try a “pick of the week” to introduce kids to new foods like watermelon radish, romanesco, kohlrabi, and celeriac.
  • Choose ingredients that pair in other dishes to limit waste. For example, bell peppers are a great topping in salads, but can also be used on pizzas, southwestern burgers, or can even be stuffed!

Pack in Protein

Use your school salad bar as a chance to show kids salads can also be main courses by including healthy protein choices. A few ideas include:

  • Beans
  • Lean proteins such as grilled chicken or turkey
  • Cubed tofu
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Dress It Up

Salad dressings can be an empty calorie culprit, or a chance to sneak in some extra nutrition.

  • Offer yogurt-based “creamy” dressings
  • Try using orange juice in place of vinegar in salad dressing recipes