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The Crazy Simple Meal-Prep Hack to Keep Your Salad Fresher

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Photo: south_juls / Shutterstock

Wilted lettuce can turn a sad desk lunch into a truly tragic meal. Thankfully, Nikki Sharp has a genius hack that will save your lunch and keep those greens crisper, longer. In her new book, Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss, the wellness expert and vegan-trained chef gives a strategy for keeping leafy greens fresh. It's simple: When you're portioning out your salads, place a lightly damp paper towel at the bottom of each container to soak up excess moisture. Sharp says you can prep salads up to five days in advance with the trick. (Related: 5 Tips for Saving Your Week When You Forgot to Meal Prep)

Another tip: Spinach is bae, but it's not the best choice when you're making a salad far in advance. "Iceberg will stay the freshest because of its water content, but it's not as nutritional as, say, arugula, so I usually tell my clients to go for darker greens," says Sharp. For a green that's both high in nutrients and likely to stay fresh, go for kale. It has a long life span in relation to other greens, provided you leave it on the stem, Sharp says. Finally, consider investing in a salad spinner. Yes, it's one more bulky kitchen gadget, but it helps to remove excess water post-wash that could otherwise make your leaves go bad.

But it's not just lettuce that has a tendency to get wilted and lose its freshness. After buying herbs, Sharp says to cut off the bottoms and store them in a jar of water. (You can store them in your fridge or out on the counter.) If you opt to chop apples before you plan to eat them, squirting the slices with lemon juice or storing them in a bowl of water will buy you some time before they brown. (More tips: How to Store Fresh Produce So It Lasts Longer and Stays Fresh)

When it comes to prepping smoothies, you have a few options. You can take the route of chopping up your ingredients on prep day, freezing them in individual servings, then blending with liquid when you're ready to eat. (Freezer smoothie recipes FTW!) But if you're in a hurry in the mornings or don't want to wake someone up, you can actually blend your smoothies in advance. To keep them fresh overnight, "make sure to fill them all the way to the top of the jar" to keep air out, says Sharp.

Now that you know exactly how to store your food for max freshness, try Sharp's seven vegetarian meal-prep ideas you can make with just 10 ingredients.

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