Sometimes, I feel like the hardest meal to worry about making everyday is lunch–amiright? Whenever we get to talking about recipes over on Instagram stories, one of the most common topics that comes up again and again are easy, quick, and healthy lunches! I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have something basically ready to go in the fridge, I’m ordering delivery. And that gets expensive in a hurry!
That is why I LOVE salad mixes. I know this isn’t an earth-shattering realization, but I feel like store-bought salad mixes often get overlooked in the easy lunch department, and they really shouldn’t! In fact, they’ve come a LONG way from the old sad Caesar salad kits of yore.
My Favorite Salad Hack for Easy Weekday Lunches
My go-to salad hack:
My ultimate hack? I buy a couple salad kits and a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week, and then I have lunch taken care of for the WHOLE week.
All you have to do is shred the chicken when you get home, put it in a container in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, take out the portion you want for that meal, and mix it with various sauces/spices to accompany your salad each time you make lunch. It sounds simple, but I promise it makes a big difference in transforming a blah salad into something you’ll get excited to eat everyday!
Why I love store-bought salad mixes:
- They last a long time (unlike that bag of rotting spring mix in your crisper drawer) They’re typically made with hardier greens–like cabbage, romaine, and kale, so they easily last all week!
- They take two seconds to whip up
- They’re relatively healthy
- Easy to customize and stretch over multiple meals
The best chopped salad mixes:
Obviously you know I’m a TJ’s lover–they’re one of the leaders in great chopped salad mixes, but you don’t have to shop at TJ’s to get in on the goodness. I think Target’s chopped salads are also really great too! There’s also a brand called Taylor Farms that I buy at Mariano’s and Jewel that I really like! Whatever store you shop at, head to the produce section and you’ll find a lot of great options!
How to spice up your salad mix:
There are many times I don’t add anything for the sake of time, or because I’m low on groceries–but if I can, I often like to add some additional mix ins aside from what you get in the bag!
- Extra greens to make it more nutritious (I love TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch that I’ll mix in, or just chopped romaine, kale, etc!)
- Chopped tomatoes
- Shredded cheese (often I find that the mixes don’t have enough cheese for my liking, so I’ll often add more of my own)
- Soft cheese like goat cheese, blue cheese, or feta
- Chopped string cheese (it’s so good, don’t knock it til you try it!)
- My own dressings and sauces. (See below)
- Additional herbs: Fresh cilantro, green onions, etc go a LONG way in jazzing up a pre-bought salad mix!
- Any leftover farro, quinoa, pasta, etc is always delicious and filling!
The best salad dressings to keep on hand:
Depending on the salad mix, it might be a great dressing, it might be meh. I like to have my own on hand to use instead if I find the included dressing is lackluster. My ultimate obsessions are starred with an asterisk.
- Tessamae’s Ranch and Sriracha Ranch
- TJ’s Peppercorn Ranch
- TJ’s Toasted Sesame dressing*
- TJ’s Zhoug sauce*
- TJ’s Jalapeño sauce.
- Salad Girl’s Crisp Apple Maple Vinaigrette* (one of my favorites of all time)
- Brianna’s Blush Wine vinaigrette
- I also love to make my own vinaigrette to keep in the fridge!*
- Club Lucky Italian Dressing (specific to Chicago!)
My favorite combinations:
Buffalo chicken salad:
Your favorite southwestern salad mix or TJ’s buffalo ranch mix + rotisserie chicken tossed in buffalo sauce + ranch
Asian-inspired chicken salad:
Your favorite Asian-style salad mix + rotisserie chicken tossed in TJ’s Soyaki sauce + TJ’s toasted sesame dressing. I also love adding more fresh cilantro and/or chopped green onions and avocado and sriracha drizzle on top! (I’ll also eat this for dinner with some TJ’s potstickers on the side!)
Mediterranean chopped salad:
Your favorite Mediterranean chopped salad kit + rotisserie chicken tossed with TJ’s Zhoug sauce + hummus + red wine vinaigrette. (Bonus if you have pita on the side!)
Your favorite southwestern salad mix + rotisserie chicken tossed with your favorite hot sauce or spice blend + dressing (I love the one that comes with TJ’s southwestern mix or I will often mix together ranch and salsa for a dressing!) You can also make this with ground chicken/turkey/beef or a chopped up TJ’s Southwestern Veggie burger!
Cajun Caesar chopped salad:
Your favorite Caesar salad mix (I like to chop mine further–I just think all salad tastes better chopped!) + rotisserie chicken mixed with your favorite cajun spices + caesar dressing. If you want to make it more nutritious, often I’ll add a handful of TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch or chopped kale/other type of green!
Chopped Kale salad:
Your favorite kale salad mix + rotisserie chicken mixed with honey mustard + your favorite tangy vinaigrette. Add in crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese, and/or sliced apples to get extra fancy.
Italian chopped salad:
Kale salad mix (usually you can find an Asiago Kale, that lends itself nicely to Italian flavors!) + rotisserie chicken mixed with store-bought pesto + optional mozzarella (either small balls or chopped, or honestly I often use string cheese if that’s what I have on hand!) + your favorite Italian or balsamic vinaigrette. (Optional swap: Instead of chicken, you could also use chopped prosciutto or salami!)