Kitchn Love Letters

The $4 Trader Joe’s Salad Kit I’m Buying All Summer Long

published Jun 28, 2022
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trader joe's salad section

Before I get into the actual contents of this salad kit, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate the inherent ease and deliciousness of all salad kits, in general. Whether you’re 30,000 feet in the air or somewhere more grounded, these bags are filled with leafy greens, fun mix-ins, and flavorful dressings that provide near-instant sustenance and satisfaction. 

I regularly drop one of these kits in my basket when I grocery shop. (I live in a city and walk to and from the store, so the idea and practicality of carrying a cart’s worth of groceries home is pure fantasy.) I like variety, so typically I’ll mix up the kits I pick up from week to week. But every now and then, I’ll find a salad kit that’s so fresh and so flavorful, I want it again and again. That is the story of this new salad kit, which popped up on Trader Joe’s shelves last month.

Trader Joe’s BBQ & Black Pepper Toscano Chopped Salad, $3.49 for 11 ounces

Made with a mix of green and red cabbage, carrots, broccoli stalks, and kale, the crunchy, slaw-like base is a textural delight. It’s paired with, well, a pair of toppings: cornbread croutons (which are more akin to crispy crouton crumbs) and a black pepper Toscano cheese in shredded form. The former adds a more concentrated crunch to the mix while the cheese gives a very-welcomed creamy savory flavor with plenty of bite. It all works so amazingly well together. 

And the BBQ sweet onion dressing! The first time I opened the packet of dressing, I was overcome with a feeling of familiarity. I thought to myself: Where have I smelled this before? And then it hit me. It smells (and tastes) exactly like the marinade my mother makes for her barbecue chicken. In case you haven’t had her marinade: This dressing is on the sweeter side and it’s also tangy, smoky, and has a slight onion flavor that I find particularly enjoyable. I hope TJ’s ends up bottling it and selling it separately.

According to the packaging, the kit easily divides up into three servings and, although the bag looks like it’s filled with 75 percent air, I’ve found that to be accurate — when I eat it alongside something else. If I want this salad as its own meal, I finish the bag in two sittings. Mostly, I like to eat it with freezer staples that I can quickly heat (plant-based chicken tenders, frozen pizzas, or multiple types of burgers). I’ve bought this salad kit a handful of times since first spotting it at my local Trader Joe’s last month, and it’s become a regular attendee at my lunches and dinners. At this point, I don’t see that slowing down any time soon.

Do you have a salad kit you always buy? Tell us in the comments below.