Ways To Use Up Your Extra Salad Greens

It happens to the best of us. You bought a couple of bags of salad greens but only got through one of them before the last one started to be less than crisp and fresh. You don't want to toss it and create more food waste, but you just can't think of a recipe to use up those quickly deteriorating salad greens. It's a common conundrum. But when you get creative in the kitchen, there are tons of ways you can put those leftover greens to good use. Even when they're too far past their prime to be used in fresh, crisp salads, there are ways to use greens up. 

Whether you have the time and energy to cook the greens into a delicious side dish or you need something that will use up the salad greens in a flash, there are so many different things you can use them for. From adding them to homemade sauces and dips to simply stirring the greens into tonight's one-pot pasta dish, you might be surprised just how far a bag of greens can take you.

Stuff wraps of various styles

When your greens have started to wilt a bit and you want to enjoy them without the greens being the primary focus, like in a salad, you can turn to all kinds of wraps. When you're focused on the other yummy components of a chicken bacon ranch wrap, for example, your slightly sad salad won't be so noticeable. The greens will add a bit of color and crunch, and you'll be able to save them from the bin. 

You don't have to use the greens for just any old cold wrap with turkey, tomato, and cheese. Though salad greens will complement almost any cold or hot wrap for lunch or dinner with a cup of soup, you can branch out to the wraps of other cuisines. Think along the lines of burritos — maybe even quesadillas too, according to This Pilgrim Life. Lettuces can be added to egg rolls or even Southwest breakfast burritos. The options are endless if you rethink what a wrap is and consider that greens can be used to add volume to wraps. 

Sautéed for many different dishes

If you have a whole meal planned out and want to simply add a side dish or you need something to go with your main in a flash, then look no further than a skillet. According to The Kitchn, salad greens are also perfect for being sautéed. Not only can you flavor them in tons of different ways as a side, but you can use sautéed greens in plenty of other dishes too.

Apart from serving greens cooked with other aromatics to eat as is, sautéed greens can also be used for things like omelets, quiches, or frittatas. (Try out this spinach frittata or this sheet pan quiche full of watercress for inspiration.) You can make hot sandwiches topped with the sautéed greens before adding the last slice of bread or you can use them in bite-sized appetizers. Imagine any place you might have wilted spinach or kale and swap in the salad greens instead. Even casseroles of all kinds can get a boost of color and flavor from sautéed greens.


For those in need of a way to use up a lot of salad greens in no time at all, there is no better way than a smoothie according to Bon Appétit. Most salad greens will work, but arugula might not be the best one to add to your morning drink routine due to its spicy, peppery flavor. Bon Appétit explains that many salad greens are sweeter than other kinds of greens you might already use in your smoothies like spinach or kale. That means they will taste great with your other favorite ingredients like fruit or vegetables.

If you prefer to make fresh juice every morning instead, you could also add them there. Green juice or not, salad greens should add a nice, fresh boost to freshly pressed juice. Toss them in with cucumbers, apples, carrots, beets, pineapple, strawberries, and so much more for the perfect combination.

Fold into warm dishes

Another incredibly fast and delicious way to use up salad greens is to fold them into other warm dishes. The great thing about this method is that there is no prep for the salad greens needed, just like using them in smoothies. The heat from the other foods in the dish should soften the greens just enough to incorporate them well without wilting the leaves too much.

According to This Pilgrim Life, you can fold salad greens into dishes like warm, saucy pasta made in a single pot, layer it into the sauce used for lasagna, or add it to a filling like in this sausage and spinach stuffed shells recipe. You could add them to soups or stews right before ladling up bowls. Everyday Cheapskate suggests blending salad greens into soups, but you can also stir them into dishes with simmering ingredients like bean chili or a bowl of roasted vegetables. Any warm dish you'd like to add more vegetables to can typically take the addition of salad greens so long as they are added toward the end of the cooking process.

Use them in dips and sauces

Finally, salad greens are perfect for making all kinds of dips and sauces. Whether you need a last-minute pasta sauce or an appetizer to feed hungry guests, salad greens can be used in the process of making many different options. From sauces that are spooned over meat, added to pasta, or tossed into dips for chips and bread, salad greens are quite versatile.

This Pilgrim Life suggests adding salad greens to dishes like hummus or spinach and artichoke dip. Salad greens can add bulk to basil for making pesto. Salsa among other sauces is a good use for salad greens too (via Food52). But if you do use salad greens in this way, it is important to do the work of chopping the greens finely by hand. Otherwise, you might end up with a sauce or greens that have an unappealing texture.