I often eat in a cafeteria with a salad bar. Given the order in which they lay out the ingredients, I start with lettuce or spinach, then add other vegetables and ingredients on top. The plates they provide are fairly small, so the salad starts to heap up. Then when I go to eat it, every time I put in my fork, bits and pieces of lettuce and vegetables fall from the stack, off the plate, and onto the table. By the time I'm done, the table is littered with ranch-besmeared leafy objects.

Short of making very small salads, is there a better way to proceed?

Ingredients I often put in my salads include:

  • Lettuce

  • Spinach (raw leaves)

  • Tomatoes (sliced)

  • Mushrooms (sliced)

  • Kidney beans

  • Onions (thinly sliced)

  • Shredded cheese

  • Dressing

  • Croutons

It would be nice if I can get a reasonable mix of multiple vegetables and dressing in each bite (so picking beans and tomatoes off the top one by one would not be ideal).

5 Answers 5


Sometimes salads are more easily eaten out of a bowl or other container with sides without spilling over. See if they make such dishware available in other sections of the cafeteria. If the cafeteria has soup (for example), you may find some bowls there. Look around; you may be able to find alternative tableware in other sections of the cafeteria. Alternatively, you may be able to bring your own (if they allow that). You'll be much less likely to spill using a bowl or a larger container than a tiny plate.


Put it in a wrap, roll it up tight and munch munch munch :-)

  • That's what wraps are for! :p
    – satyanx1
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 23:36
  • To make the salad more manageable, by rolling it in the wrap. (Like a burrito) This way you can eat it without the salad bouncing all over the place. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 11:37

Always take 10% food less on plate than it's capacity.

Plate - In case of salads, salads are often loose. Put each item on your plate so that when you apply dressing/spices/toppings they are distributed to each item.

While eating - Take use of knife to push the salad onto your fork forming your desired stack which should be in manageable size to pick up and eat (this is helpful when you have to be less casual and be more in etiquette)

Casually, you can dispense with the stabbing and try scooping. This is my preferred method (when not in public). It involves swooping into the salad, lifting out a platform of leaves with a few salad accouterments balanced precariously on top, and getting it into your mouth before it all tumbles back into the bowl.

This would also be a helpful article here

Thank you.


Don't get big items such as lettuce leaves and it shouldn't be as messy. You can even eat it with a spoon.

At my job, we once had a catered salad bar for lunch but the caterer forgot the lettuce. We all filled our bowls up with our favorite vegetables and toppings and didn't miss the lettuce at all. Now I often skip the lettuce even when it's available.


Along similar lines to the wrap idea, you can try eating using bread rather than a fork. If you take a bit of pita, small tortilla, or some other soft flatbread, you can grab food with your hands, using the bread as a barrier between your hand and messy food.

I recommend this primarily because your hands are far superior utensils to ordinary cutlery, in terms of keeping stuff from falling out. You'll find it easier to keep everything in a bite contained by using your hand rather than a fork, especially when dealing with a loose food like salad. The bread keeps your hands clean.

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