Design a Salad Bar: TableScape Project

Face it! There are just some food topics that are difficult to have a lab associated with them.  Sometimes it’s because of the cost, the logistics, the equipment or the quantity/variety of foods you’d have to purchase in order to make the lab happen.  When this happens, I try to do some kind of unique project in place of the lab.  So, below you will see how I make the best of teaching about salad bars with a tablescape project in lieu of an actual foods lab.  What are some unique assignments or projects you do in place of labs?  Share in the comment section below.


  • Ask students if they’ve ever eaten at a salad bar.  Discuss what they liked or disliked about them.
  • Ask students to learn more about salad bars by researching the benefits of schools and restaurant offering them, the do’s and dont’s associated with salad bar etiquette and a reasonable price they’d charge to eat at a salad bar. We discuss the results of their research before the survey is created.
  • Students then create a Google Form Survey to give to their classmates as to the preferred options and theme(s) they would like to see on a salad bar, especially if one was to be offered in the school cafeteria.  Students will share this survey with their friends at lunch via a QR Code they create to correspond with it.  They will use the results in their next assignment.


  • Laptops or iPads
  • Butcher Paper or Large Construction Paper
  • Art Supplies


  • Preface the project by explaining to students that the school cafeteria is interested in offering a salad bar as a lunch choice, but is in need of ideas for themes and toppings.
  • The goal of your group is to take the results of your survey and use it to Create a TableScape Themed Salad Bar on butcher paper, including options you’d offer to help persuade the school board. Illustrate the options you’d include and title the “salad bar” with your selected theme.  Food items should match the theme of your salad bar and should be colorful, offer variety (nutrition, MyPlate, meal appeals, etc.) and be aesthetically appealing. Be sure that all salad bar option visuals are recognizable and/or are labeled appropriately.
  • Your TableScape Salad Bar will need to include…
    • Several Types of Leafy Greens (3 minimum)
    • Several Vegetable Options (4 minimum)
    • Fruit Options (fresh or dried) (2 minimum)
    • Several Protein Options (plant and animal–2 of each type minimum
    • Grains Options (2 minimum)
    • Cheese Options (2 minimum)
    • Dressing Options ( 3 minimum)
  • Finally, you will need to write a letter to the school board explaining your proposal, the theme and toppings you’d offer, how often you would like to see this on the menu (weekly, monthly, etc.) and of course the cost you think would be reasonable to charge.  In other words, why should the school board select your option over the options of your classmates?
  • Students share their Salad Bar TableScapes and proposals with the class and students vote on the salad bar they’d most like to have offered in the school cafeteria with a paragraph explaining 3 reasons why.



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