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.