How many salad dressings are enough?

Salad DressingNot to pick on my mother or mother-in-law, but they both have an odd habit of collecting salad dressing in their refrigerators. The salad dressings may start out neatly lined up on the refrigerator’s door, but they somehow end up in the back of the main shelves never to see the light of day before they expire. With a quick inventory of my refrigerator, I count two dressings. For our family, that is reasonable. If you’d like the choice of six to ten dressings, go to a restaurant. Stocking your fridge full of dressing is overkill.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to do an inventory of your food supply. You may be a bit embarrassed when you find out how much you actually have in you fridge, but there is an easy way to curb your inventory. Stop buying more dressing. (Heck, make your own.) Before you head to the grocery store take stock of what you need and make a list. If you have more than one dressing per household occupant, then you most likely don’t need any more. So when you head out to buy groceries you may want to skip the salad dressing aisle.

I guess taking aim at salad dressings isn’t fair. I’m sure there are many condiments that can be purchased in over abundance. The main thing to take from this post is to make a shopping list when heading to the grocery store. Making a list and sticking to it will help curb your appetite for more food.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

30 Comments for “How many salad dressings are enough?”

  1. posted by Rebecca on

    I recently took an inventory of our freeze and boy was I surprised at the amount of stuff we had piled away! I made a list and we keep it on our refrigerator to make sure we’re not double buying anything and it only took a few minutes.

  2. posted by Michael on

    Zero. That’s how many you need if you keep other things around such as different oils, vinegars, herbs, mustards, mayo, shallots, garlic, etc. These things are kitchen multi-taskers, useful in thousands of different dishes and it takes minutes to whip up a dressing.

    (Also, many bottled dressings are high in sugar and bad fats. You can control what you eat by making your own.)

  3. posted by sabrina on

    Just this weekend we cleaned out our fridge…we found lots of half-empty bottles of marinade and dressings that had to go in the garbage, and FOUR bottles of mustard! Thats what happens when things get so cluttered you can’t see what you do and don’t have as you rush to do your grocery shopping without a list. (They weren’t even different kinds of mustard!) I hope the rest of my family now understands my “quest” to be uncluttered…it makes things so much easier!

  4. posted by Shannon on

    Bottled salad dressings are really bad for you, full of preservatives and corn syrup. Oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper — that’s all you need to whip up a good salad dressing. I make a batch on the weekend and use it all week. It keeps very well in the fridge, although you have to warm it to room temperature before serving. Once you start making your own, you lose the taste for bottled salad dressings — they’re too sweet!

    I cleaned out the fridge yesterday and threw out several jars of mustard, pickles, old Chinese sauces. We probably only need two mustards: dijon and good ol’ yellow. The rest I agree is not only clutter but also leave sticky messes on the fridge shelves.

  5. posted by Jasi on

    One Caesar and the occasional ginger/carrot as I hate to make those. I’m comfortable with my own vinegarette.

    Chinese condiments do tend to pile up in this house though. Sesame oil, hoisin, black bean paste, oyster sauce, soya, fish sauce, chili paste, chili oil… It’s one of the few pantry orders I can’t seem to cut down on. Everything else is quite minimal and functional.

  6. posted by Jennifer on

    My mom always seems to buy another bottle of salad dressing every time she goes to the store, because she can’t remember if she has any.

  7. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I wish companies would make salad dressings in 100mL (3oz) bottles as sample sizes. Then you could buy just a bit and decide if you like it before buying the 500mL (16oz) size which sits in the fridge forever because nobody likes it.

  8. posted by Christine on

    I just decided this weekend that I’m only buying one bottle at a time (or making one bottle at a time, as I do enjoy those pre-packaged salad dressing mixes that you just add vinegar and oil to). There’s no reason to have more than one when I’m the only one in the house who eats salad.

  9. posted by Blogmotron on

    If you really need twelve kinds of salad dressing in order to make your salad palatable, maybe you should try different vegetables.

  10. posted by ktpupp on

    We joke that our fridge contains nothing more than condiments and milk… It’s full to the point of straining, but there’s no actual room for food in there because of all those darn condiments.

    I think I’m going to go home tonight and empty it out. Start fresh and keep it uncluttered.

  11. posted by Stacy on

    I agree that bottled salad dressings may not be the best for you…however, with three children and a full schedule I have learned that it is very important to not only try to have healthy foods but quick as well. If it is a busy night I need to have a quick plan. I keep three dressings: 1 creamy dressing, 1 vinaigrette, and a Caesar!

  12. posted by Jim on

    […A funny little article about refirgerator clutter…]

  13. posted by supersocco on

    thanks for the vinaigrette recipe link. it’s nice to find some more variations on my old stand-by.

  14. posted by PrairiGal on

    Ahh, yes I have all those Chinese sauces too, but they are all so different, I just can’t cut down.

    This is pretty timely, because I just cleaned out my pantry. I have my aunt’s antipasto from Christmas ’07 and ’06. I am going to eat this week, so I have lots of room for ’08.

  15. posted by Minnie on

    This was timely for me because I had a bag of prechopped romaine yesterday; and couldn’t find ONE bottle of dressing. Apparantly in a decluttering frenzy; I threw them all away. I was *so happy* to find a tiny packet of dressing inside the salad! AND croutons! So next time I’m shopping, I’ll be buying one bottle of italian and one bottle of ranch. πŸ™‚

  16. posted by Chris on

    I’m on the same page as Shannon. My concoction of choice is EVOO, balsamic, garlic clove, T. of honey, salt and pepper. Takes 60 seconds and tastes fantastic.

  17. posted by ellipsisknits on

    As long as they’re organized, it’s not that much of a problem. My parents have long narrow trays on the top shelf of their side-by-side fridge for condiments. Pull out the ‘salad condiments’ tray and you have a couple choices (important back when they had a house full of picky kids).

    Ultimately, five dressings stored this way takes up no more space than two, since you couldn’t reach anything in the back of the top shelf anyway. Normally the tray comes and goes from fridge to the table with everything on it – eliminating the need to re-shove miscellaneous bottles back into place.

    Now where she ever found little plastic trays exactly the size of her fridge I’ll never know.

  18. posted by Adam on

    Jacki Hollywood Brown:

    I like that idea. I’ve bought dressings before because they looked like those I had tasted before and liked when they weren’t the ones I wanted. I’m sure I still have them too because I don’t want to throw good stuff away.

  19. posted by tlord on

    I’ve never found a commercial dressing I like as well as my own anyhow πŸ™‚

    But I’m picky about dressing — I don’t want anything that reminds me even slightly of mayonnaise, and most commercial Italian-type dressings have an odd chemical tang I can’t quite place other than as characteristic of that class of almost-food products.

    For me, 2 parts red wine vinegar, 1 part (or less) light oil (olive, usually), and whatever else I feel like and is handy. I esp. like to add chopped-fine other perhaps wasted bits of vegetables from the rest of the salad, a sort of hair-of-the-dog approach. (I like tomato pulp and celery seeds, for instance.)

    If they’re around, I might toss in any (though probably not all ;)) of the following:

    Fresh-chopped garlic
    Anchovy, if there’s a jar open already
    Shredded cheese
    Lots of black pepper
    Pinch of [dill / mustard / curry]
    minced red onion, or carrot, or pepper, or chive, or basil, or arugula …
    Squirt of lemon or lime juice
    Rough kosher salt
    Salt-cured olive (chopped or at least pulled apart into small pieces)

    Making a dressing doesn’t usually take more than 2 minutes, and even when it does, well worth it. Poured over even a one-ingredient salad (chopped cucumber, or a hand of romaine, or a plate of spinach or arugula), and I need nothing else. Leftovers, if any, can be used to marinate some chicken, or kept for a few days in the fridge.


  20. posted by Kris on

    Three, and two can also be marinades.

  21. posted by twosandalz on

    Another good reason to make a grocery list… it can help keep your grocery expenditures under control too.

  22. posted by kem on

    It took me a while to realize that none of the store bought dressings were as good as homemade (yea, I’m slow). SO now I make a nice dressing (usually my favorite, honey mustard), and make a bottle that will last about a month.

  23. posted by Hulsy on

    None ! I’m french and we don’t have this kind of “all-ready” dressing…
    For me a dressing is :
    – one spoon of vinegar
    – 2 or 3 spoons of oil (pure olive oil)
    – salt, pepper
    That’s all !

    Sometimes, I put yoghourt and/or herbs, oinions, garlic, mustard… depends on my mood… Be creative πŸ˜‰

  24. posted by Jul on

    I make fun of my parents whenever I visit and find 6 bottles of expired salad dressing in their refrigerator door.

    Luckily their habits haven’t worn off on me, though – I don’t buy any pre-made dressings. I prefer to concoct my own or just go with some high-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That way I know exactly what I’m eating.

  25. posted by Jul on

    PS – that Ranch article cracked me up. πŸ™‚

  26. posted by Anne on

    on bottles that aren’t a big hit on salad…
    we marinate chicken breast and cook next time sometimes it is a hit, but if not, the bottle is gone…and we were adventuruous(oops on spelling)
    Ranch in the mega size for our fam of 6 and one for hubby and one for me! I get pulled in by the new vinegrettes…but usually find they become a marinade!

  27. posted by Rachel on

    Heh – my parents have the same collecting habit, I think because they’re both picky and always optimistic. They recently had to buy a new fridge when theirs died, and they were very excited to find one with very deep glass shelves on the door so that they could see all the condiments (it’s not just salad dressings that magically find their way to their house).

  28. posted by Lee Winemiller Cockrum on

    I could relate to this better if it was neutral strategies or recommendations for managing fridge clutter, keeping track of needs and inventory. As written it seems judgmental, as do many of the comments. I might like different flavors on different types of salad.

  29. posted by G. on

    We usually have 4-6 in the frig. It doesn’t help when you have one person who won’t eat regular dressings, and one person who hates the low-cal dressings (the taste and texture). Dressing is one of those things that I know can be easily made, but don’t remember to actually try making.

  30. posted by laura ann on

    I “corral” the condiments and smaller items in small storage baskets this way I know what we need to replace. I make my own salad dressing using hummus, vinegar and olive oil with herbs.

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