This $4 Hack Will Save You from Bad Airport Salads

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Aureliy)

I’m no stranger to testing the TSA’s boundaries when traveling with food. You’re talking to the girl who figured out how to pack hard-boiled eggs on ice to eat at the gate. I thought I took the title for Over-the-Top Airport Food Packer … until I was at a party and someone mentioned bringing a salad kit on board for dinner. She said she’d pour the dressing right into the bag and eat it in her seat — just like a Frito Pie.

Wait, how had I not thought of that?

Why You Should Pack a Bagged Salad for a Flight

The airport salad to-go situation is usually pretty abysmal. You essentially have two choices: chicken Caesar or some sort of chef salad with browning lettuce. Maybe you’ll see something vaguely “Southwestern” with corn and beans, but that’s about as exotic as it gets.

Plus, all of these salads are like $15.

I’m not saying that bagged salad kits are gourmet by any means, but at least you can spend less money and get something better than all-white iceberg and Lunchables-grade chunks of ham. And yes, you could make your own salad and put it in a plastic container, but when you’re traveling, shortcuts are sometimes necessary. Besides, a bagged salad, in addition to being convenient, is super-easy to squeeze into your luggage.

(Image credit: Danielle Blundell)

I Took Bagged Salad on a Plane & Here’s How It Went

On my way home from a recent work trip, I decided to give the bagged-salad-on-a-plane experiment a go. The night before my flight, I bought a Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Salad from Target for $3.99 and stashed it in my hotel room fridge. The kit had a decent mix of ingredients including kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and radicchio — plus roasted pumpkin seeds and cranberries. And I was decidedly excited to eat it at 30,000 feet in the air.

The day of my flight, I threw the kit into my carry-on and made my way through security without any issues. I was a little worried about the poppyseed dressing, but the packet was clearly small enough to go undetected.

I’m a relatively self-aware, considerate traveler, but people definitely bring airport-purchased salads onboard, so I figured mine wouldn’t be all that different. When a girl across the aisle took out her sushi, I figured that was my chance to get my meal going.

I almost chickened out. This was my first time eating salad straight out of a bag — and there’s something kinda gross about it. And yet, eating out of a bag is kind of ingenious, especially while traveling. The bag is the package and the bowl!

I carefully tore open the top of the bag, dug out the pouches, and emptied them into the bag. It helps to hold the top of the bag closed and give it a bit of a shake, which is a bit of an attention grabber. But people didn’t seem to stare too much. Bonus: The bag sat up nicely in the corner (I was in a window seat, curiously without a window, so pardon the dark photo!) and I could leave my fork in the bag between bites.

I’d call the experiment a total success. A life hack, even! The only caveat: The quicker you can eat your bagged salad, the better. I took mine out of the fridge more than six hours before I ate it, and it was fine, but that might not be the case if you’re the type who wants chilled forkfuls and crunchy lettuce. Still, if you’ve ever spent too much money only to be disappointed by an airport salad, and you don’t care about doing something slightly weird in front of strangers, then this is for you!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever brought on a plane?