Simplicity is a major focus for many after the New Year. Less plans, less stuff and less work. It’s almost like spring cleaning but without the chirping birds and spring thaw.

Since the days are short and the winter is long, there is plenty of time to figure out ways to simplify before summer hits.

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Personally, I just finished up two weeks of the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse, and while the meal plan itself was quite involved and complicated (it’s geared towards people who enjoy cooking every day), there were simple meals throughout.

While I learned quite a few things from doing a two-week meal plan, one of my main takeaways was the repurposing of leftovers into a salad for lunch the next day. Not only is it a great use for leftovers, it also introduces a lot of vegetables into my mid-day meal.

It’s key to understand that virtually any combination of greens work with any salad topping, so prep a few bags for easy access during the week.

I chop/tear, rinse and spin mine dry in a salad spinner and then store them in the fridge in zip-top bags or in salad containers so I can just add dinner leftovers and go.

It’s also key to have a favorite dressing mixed up and divided for each lunch. I’m a big fan of this simple vinaigrette as it is very versatile.

Let’s play a little Choose Your Own Adventure, salad style:

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First, pick your favorite greens (switch it up every so often or mix and match):

Radicchio
Kale
Romaine
Spinach
Escarole
Endive
Mustard greens
Cabbage

Then, add your toppings:

Roasted root vegetables (carrots, celery root, parsnips, turnips)
Seared salmon
Pulled chicken
White beans and caramelized onions
Eggs (poached, fried, hard boiled)
Roasted and seasoned chickpeas

Every so often I’ll add fresh or dried fruit, various cheeses or a few nuts — but then again, we’re trying to keep it simple, right?

Click here to read Crystal’s blog — Cafe Cyan.

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And click here to read past Bite of Minnesota blogs.