When it comes to cooking, a chef’s shortcut is often (and unfortunately) identifiable in the final result: Frozen biscuit dumplings don’t hold a candle to the homemade ones , and store-bought frosting lacks the depth of the from-scratch stuff . Even so, there are times when convenience takes priority over everything else, and for me, there’s one quick-and-dirty route I’m never ashamed to take: the salad kit.
For starters, there’s the ease of a bagged salad. Everything you need is right there, packaged in tidy, perfectly proportioned packets. Skip the never-ending loop around the grocery store and secure everything you need with one reach into the produce section’s refrigerators. Salads aren’t inherently time-consuming to make (unless you’re shaking up a complicated dressing), but the kits cut prep time to the bare minimum—no chopping, dicing, or julienning required. And on a busy weeknight, when you’re trying to get dinner on the table after work or extracurriculars, every precious second counts!
I also find that bagged kits generally offer a more economical way to enjoy a fresh salad with a variety of ingredients—especially for a small household. These days, with the sky-high price of groceries, making my favorite spring greens salad with goat cheese, spiced pecans, fresh berries, and blush wine vinaigrette eats up a good chunk of the weekly grocery budget in one fell swoop. The salad kits allow my fiancé and me to tuck into a balanced and flavorful salad without having to buy expensive, enormous portions of lettuces, nuts, cheeses, and other accoutrements that may expire before we’re able to plow through them. ( Taylor Farms Sweet Kale mix , for example, is a delicious combination of things like radicchio, brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and poppyseed dressing—and six servings will only set you back $5). Plus, in my experience, the salad kits are nearly always on sale, especially if you’re not brand loyal; I don’t remember the last time I went to Publix and they weren’t running a BOGO deal on at least one brand’s pre-packaged mixes.
Of course there are times when it’s worth the splurge on all the various ingredients to pull together an extra-delicious salad, but on a chaotic weeknight, when the end goal is to get something green on the table (and fast!), there’s no more efficient or economical suppertime solution than a bagged salad kit.