I love hosting potlucks and bringing people together around a dinner table. (Well, when I had the space in my old home. It’s tough to host these types of gatherings in New York City.) A true sense of community is rarely stronger than when a meal is shared around a table. When I did host regularly, one of my favorite, go-to options was to ask friends or family to bring ingredients to build their own salad. This option is great, because everyone gets involved in the “cooking” process, and leaves feeling satiated and good about their food selections. It is also so simple and yet so fun!

Essentially you set up your own sweetgreen or Chopt at your house. As the host, you provide the space and the tools, and assign ingredients to friends and family by food group. A few guests bring assigned protein options, while others bring the assigned base greens, and a few others bring toppings. What is even better is this option is inexpensive, as each guest is only responsible for bringing a few items, max.

As the host you will need:

  • Large stainless steel mixing bowls
  • Salad choppers (I use this one)
  • Tongs for “the goods”
  • Tablespoons for “crunchies”
  • Bowls
  • Forks

I assign the remaining ingredients to my friends/family:


  • Chopped grilled chicken
  • Diced turkey
  • Seafood option (pulled salmon/tuna are great choices)
  • Tofu/lentils (vegetarian option)


  • Kale
  • Romaine
  • Arugula

THE GOODS (Encourage all colors of the rainbow!)

  • Diced cucumbers
  • Shredded carrots
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Avocados
  • Seasonal grilled vegetables


  • Almond slivers
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pecans
  • Cashews

**I prefer roasted with no salt for all nuts

Before I delegate the ingredients, I ask for allergies and intolerances first. I also encourage guests to prepare the ingredients how they see fit (grilled, seasoned, spicy, etc…). This adds authenticity and ownership to the process.

The immersive experience of not only sharing a meal, but being a part of the creative process creates a deeper sense of community. And it gives guests a chance to converse over their healthy salads and discuss the differences in their selections.

Food can be fun and healthy, especially with friends and family!

Photo credit: Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash