10 Things I Learned After Weeks of Almost Exclusively Eating Salad Kits

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

We recently went on a salad kit-eating spree here at Kitchn and it was even more thrilling than it sounds — trust me! Every day for weeks I found myself wandering the refrigerated sections of every grocery store on my walk to work and purchasing every single salad kit at my disposal. All of this was in an effort to determine the best salad kits in America, which I’m confident that we did! (See: We Tried Nearly Every Salad Kit in America. Here Are the Top 5.)

Along the way, I learned a few valuable lessons about the art of bagged salad eating, our collective taste in salads, and how much salad is too much salad. (The answer? There is a limit.) Here goes!

1. I will never pay $13+ for a lunch salad ever again.

I’m not proud to admit to all the times that I failed to pack lunch and instead resorted to one of those trendy salad places that you can find on pretty much every corner of New York City. Don’t get me wrong: Sweetgreen salads are delicious and I love them with all of my heart (especially you, Guacamole Greens), but after eating more than my fair share of salad kits I can no longer justify the price of a single bougie salad.

Throughout the entirety of this experiment, I never spent more than $5 on a salad kit, which usually squeaked out two lunch-sized portions. You do the math! Even if you want to doctor up your kit with avocado hunks, hard-boiled egg slices, or a can of tuna (or all three!), you’d still spend less money with a kit.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

2. This is the only way to mix a salad kit.

Faced with a fridge full of salad kits with an expiration date (and a deadline!), I knew I had to eat them quickly and efficiently. That required eating an early lunch salad, a late lunch salad, and sometimes a dinner salad every day for weeks. To speed up the process even more, I stumbled upon this ingenious salad kit trick: Dump all of the contents of the kit into the bag, roll up the top, and mix the whole kit and kaboodle right then and there. This is the best way to make sure that the dressing/toppings are evenly distributed. Plus, if you skip tossing the salad in a big bowl with a set of tongs, you’ll end up with fewer dishes to wash.

3. You should not mess with national lettuce outbreaks.

We embarked on this salad kit project in the midst of a romaine recall — but we didn’t let that stop us. There are lots of lettuces out there so we figured we could get a head start on all the spring mix, kale, mesclun, butter, and iceberg lettuce kits of the world while the FDA sorted everything out. Let me tell you, though, it was hard to find bagged salad! A ton of bagged salads, romaine or not, were pulled off of shelves as a precaution, so it was hard to find any at all! It was a little frustrating at first, in light of our mission and all, but at the end of the day, we were really thankful that the risk was being managed so thoroughly. Eventually the kits came back in stock and we were good to go.

4. Salad kits > meal kits.

Unlike meal kits — which involve ordering, shipping, waiting, assembling, cooking, etc. — salad kits are one and done. As you might expect, salad kits actually make life easier, especially on those nights when you need to pull dinner out of thin air. In fact, we highly recommend doctoring up your salad kit (by adding proteins, and even more fixings) any night of the week.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

5. Caesar salad is barely a salad.

Throughout the course of one week, I almost exclusively ate Caesar salad kits and I realized that Caesar salad hardly counted as my daily serving of veggies. But that doesn’t mean that we should hate on this gloopy, cheesy, bread-y varietal. Honestly, the fact that Caesar salad is a little more indulgent just made me love it more.

6. Salad kits almost always come with too much dressing.

Here’s a helpful tip for all of your future salad kits to come: Spare yourself some trouble and add the dressing a little bit at a time. Even if the packet doesn’t look like much, most of the time it’s way too much.

7. Salad leaf size must pass the Goldilocks Test. (Not too big, not too small.)

What can I say? I have a thing about lettuce size. Some people prefer finely chopped salad, others like to leave their leaves fully intact. Me? I like my bites to be right in the middle. That way it doesn’t remind me of a big bowl of coleslaw! Or worse, a salad made for a brontosaurus.

8. Our national salad palate is abysmally limited.

This experience taught me that American grocery shoppers are comfortable with only a few iterations of salad. You’ve got some sort of “sweet” kale, Asian-inspired, Southwestern, fruit-forward, and, of course, Caesar. Let’s mix it up!

9. Most salad kits are too sweet.

There were more than a few instances where the sum of the salad kits parts (dressing + lettuce + candied nuts + dried fruit) = something way too sweet. If you’ve noticed this too, our food team had some suggestions: Try adding a squeeze of lemon, a splash of vinegar, more lettuce, or a few drops of Sriracha.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

10. There is such a thing as too much salad.

By the end of this project, I was definitely suffering from the very technical malaise that is “Salad Fatigue.” After eating so much citric acid, I started to get cankersores and dreaded eating my early lunch salad, late lunch salad, and dinner salad. Don’t let this happen to you! Here’s how: Don’t eat salad kits three times a day and you should be good!