What makes a salad a salad? According to Dictionary.com, its “usually a cold dish consisting of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, covered with a dressing and sometimes containing seafood, meat or eggs.” 

Of course, there are lots of other dishes that are called salads- like the fruity jello concoctions I grew up eating at my grandma’s house, or potato salad, a favorite for picnics- but today we’re going to focus on the basic tossed leafy green versions with dressing. 

Back in May of 1992, the Association for Dressings and Sauces launched National Salad Month after a Gallup Poll showed that three out of four people ate a tossed salad at least every other day. Thirty years later, they’re still popular additions to meals. 

Salad Kits Save Time

Do you like to create your own with individual ingredients, or do you buy kits? Salad kits are basically a pre-made meal in a bag, usually containing things like lettuce or other greens, carrots, crunch toppings like nuts or seeds, and sometimes a dressing.

According to The Packer, salad kits were the third-best-selling fresh vegetable product behind tomatoes and potatoes. Lettuce is also one of the top ten sellers. Both products experienced high growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, which analysts attribute to many people working from home and looking for a quick lunch solution. 

Bagged kits are popular because they’re easy- all you have to do is dump the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, add your dressing and eat. 

Get Creative With Your Own Salads

As easy as kits are, many people (including me!) prefer to make their own. Although you have to buy all the ingredients separately, it allows more freedom and creativity. If I find a good salad at a restaurant, I enjoy the challenge of recreating it at home! 

One of my favorites to make for lunch includes these ingredients:

  • Spinach or other leafy greens
  • Blue cheese or goat cheese
  • Chicken
  • Blueberries
  • Mix of nuts and seeds like walnuts
  • Raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Another recent favorite, which I successfully copied from a local restaurant, contains these items:

  • Spinach or other leafy greens
  • Fresh basil
  • Avocado chunks
  • Chicken
  • Cashews
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • A slightly spicy sriracha-style dressing

If you’re looking for new salad ideas for lunch or dinner, EatingWell has a great list of 30 recipes that all look delicious and nutritious. 

Dress It Up With Dressing

We can’t forget the dressing! This tasty topping adds a lot of flavor to salads, but be careful- dressing can add unhealthy ingredients to an otherwise-healthy meal.

Bottled dressings often contain saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Cream-based dressings often have high amounts of saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol and increase inflammation. 

Get creative with your dressing! Try squeezing fresh lemon or lime juice on your salad, topping it with something unexpected and healthy like salsa, or using balsamic vinegar with a little oil. Or, try making one of these healthy salad dressing options from Healthline.

Panel Member Reminders

Panel members: don’t forget to scan and submit all salad-related purchases, whether it’s a pre-made kit or the ingredients to make your own! If you buy a prepared salad at a store or deli, you can report it on the Non-Barcoded Items list.

Not a panel member and interested in joining? Check out more information about NCP and find out how to join here.  


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