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    Jen In The Kitchen: Transform That Grocery Store Salad Kit Into A Great Meal

    Jen In The Kitchen: Transform That Grocery Store Salad Kit Into A Great Meal

    Anyone who knows me well, knows I love to eat a big salad. I eat salad pretty much every day (sometimes twice!). As Elaine said in that famous Seinfeld episode when asked what is a big salad…”It’s a salad but bigger, with lots of stuff in it”.

    And what’s not to love about a big salad? It really does have a bunch of yummy stuff in it, and most of the time, you can make it healthy. Although my favorite way to order a big salad at a restaurant is with a side of fries – HA!

    But most of the time, I’m eating a big salad on the go (whether it is packing one up to take to the office, or taking one along to watch the boys play baseball). One of my favorite hacks is taking a grocery store salad kit, and making it into a great big salad!

    There are so many good options out there for grab and go salad kits. By themselves, they can be tasty. But with just a little bit of effort, you can really up your salad game. Here are my tips!

    Tip #1: Choose A Kit With A Hearty Salad Base

    Some kits come with a base of romaine lettuce, but I prefer a cabbage or kale based kit because they hold up so much better.

    I picked this kit up recently on a trip to Trader Joe’s. The salad base was cabbage, kale, carrots, and broccoli. YUM!

    Tip #2: Inventory What’s Included

    In addition to the salad base, these kits also include dressing and a couple of toppings. I like to start with what is included in the kit and build on it. The Trader Joe’s kit came with BBQ Sweet Onion Dressing, some sort of cheese (tasted a bit like parm) and a crunchy cornbread crouton topping.

    Honestly, I wasn’t too jazzed about these toppings when I first opened it up, but this salad had such a good base to it, I knew it would be easy to make it delish! In my frig, I had a yellow pepper, carrots (can’t have too many in a salad), and a mini cucumber. I also had picked up some yummy looking cherry tomatoes when I was at Trader Joe’s, so I grabbed those too (off the counter, tomatoes don’t do well in the frig!).

    Look at the awesome colors in this salad now…

    This is such an easy way to get your veggies, and it literally only took me a few minutes to chop everything up. Another time saver? Chop double what you need and save the extra veggies in the frig for another salad, on another day (like tomorrow).

    Tip #3: Go Easy On The Dressing

    I’m a little suspicious of the dressing included in the salad kits (as a self-professed salad dressing snob), so I always do a taste test before mixing it in the salad. Most bottled dressings you can buy at the store taste processed to me. Especially the vinaigrette based dressings. No surprise when I tasted the dressing from the TJ’s kit, I decided to skip it. Instead, I reached for my very favorite bottled dressing on the planet…

    I should have invested in this company 10 years ago given the amount of their dressing I have purchased and consumed over the years. At any given time, you will find at least 2 bottles in my home frig and 1 at the NDI office. No salt, no sugar, no processed taste. So good!

    Whether you decide to use the dressing that comes with the kit or use your own, go easy on it at first. I usually start with using 1/2 of the packet or a couple of swirls, if using my own. After a good toss, I decide if I need to add more.

    Tip #4: Add Protein

    We all know how important protein is in our diet, so I always add a protein to my salads. I love using leftover protein from dinner the night before for my lunch salads. Perfect example, I made salmon last night, and I intentionally made extra so I would have enough for lunches this week (yes, I could eat salmon every day of the week). Sometimes I’ll pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to pick on for a couple of days or use prepackaged cooked chicken if I’m in a pinch.

    I buy this portioned cooked chicken from Costco and I love it. It tastes good and I can grab it out of the freezer in the morning and throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds at lunch. It makes the perfect salad protein. For the TJ’s salad, I had some leftover flank steak, so I used that.

    Tip #5: Add Toppings To Your Toppings

    After I have tossed the base, extra toppings and dressing together, I divide it up into two takeaway containers, then add the protein on top. Are you ready for more toppings? Depending on what kind of salad I am making, this could be more cheese, sliced avocado, or a hard boiled egg. For the TJ’s kit, I added some crumbled blue cheese and sliced avocado.

    Last but not least, I always, ALWAYS, season my salad with several cracks of black pepper, and a pinch of salt. It may sound odd to salt your salad but it really does bring out the flavor of all the fresh veggies.

    Are you still with me? Because I have some other salad making hacks to share…

    Bonus Hack #1:

    Some weeks I will make a big salad with a generic base of lettuce, and a few veggies like cucumber, tomato, and red onion. Then throughout the week, I’ll make different themed salads from the base. This is an easy and efficient way to mix it up so you don’t feel like you are eating the same thing every day.

    Greek Salad: Salad Base + Kalamata Olives + Artichokes + Protein + Feta Cheese

    Cobb Salad: Salad Base + Hard Boiled Egg + Avocado + Protein + Blue Cheese + Bacon Bits

    Southwest: Salad Base + Black Beans + Roasted Corn + Avocado + Protein + Mexican Cheese + Crispy Tortilla Strips

    Bonus Hack #2:

    Salads don’t have to be complicated. So many of my salads are simply greens tossed in Tessamae’s salad dressing with a sprinkle of cheese and some protein. I know this salad doesn’t look like much, but it is absolutely delicious. Mixed greens, Pecorino cheese & Tessamae’s, topped with roasted salmon. YUMMMOOOO

    I buy mixed greens regularly to have when I need a simple lunch salad or a side salad at dinner.

    Between lunch and dinner, I can easily go through this vat of mixed greens in a week.

    And finally, I wanted to share my favorite store bought salad kit…

    …at least for now. I don’t even eat pickles but this is seriously, so good!

    I love using a store bought salad kit as a starting point for a great meal. Not only are salads easy to transport, it is a huge time saver for me and so delicious. All I have to do is sit back and enjoy the game!

    Dream. Build. Live.

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