The Best Trader Joe’s Salad Kits
How to make TJ’s salad kits even better.
If you have ever lived by yourself and lived near a Trader Joe’s, you have probably bought a TJ’s salad kit or have considered buying one at least once. I have currently been eating some form of a TJ’s salad kit every day for lunch for the past two months (yeah I’m crazy). I have tried a lot of these kits on their own without enhancing them, and to be honest, they are quite underwhelming. Many claim “3–4 servings”, when in actuality you probably could eat an entire bag in one sitting. In this article, I will show you how to spruce up these salads so that they are actually filling.
To start off with, I would encourage you to explore all of the salad kits Trader Joe’s has to offer. Granted, the day you go to your busy Trader Joe’s, not all of them might be there. Some of my favorites include the Southwestern Chopped Salad, Caesar Salad, BBQ & Black Pepper Toscano Chopped Salad, Lemony Arugula Basil Salad and Peanut and Crispy Noodle Salad.
Get the vibe of the salad
I know this sounds silly but read the ingredients of the salad(s) you are buying. I like to classify them into cultural categories to better help me understand what extra ingredients I want to add to my salad. For example, if the flavors of the salad lean Mexican, I will consider adding things like corn, chicken, cilantro, etc.
Choose your protein and/or grain
This is probably one of the most crucial and important steps you MUST do to have a fulfilling salad. None of these salads contain a protein and are really lackluster without one. Personally, I am lazy and like to buy the Trader Joe’s Frozen Grilled Chicken Strips and cook those up with some red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Other options include meal prepping chicken breasts at the beginning of the week, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, quinoa, and/or sweet potatoes. If you are looking for more options, go to the sweetgreen website and recreate your favorite proteins or grains to add to your TJ’s salad.
Choose your fix-ins
This is what makes the salad extra fun. I think this is also a crucial step to making the salad filling and fun to eat. Some of my favorite things to add to pretty much all of these salads include chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and a lemon/lime squeeze.
Other fix-ins I like to add depending on the flavor and vibe of the salad include:
- fire roasted corn + cotija cheese or cheddar cheese
- cranberries + feta
- apples + goat cheese
- seaweed salad + marinated cucumbers
- tomatoes + grilled halloumi
Choose your sauce(s)
Another crucial step (I guess every step is crucial). The pre-made dressings that come with these salad kits are pretty good. However, I know that sometimes they are not enough. I am also aware that these dressings are sometimes filled with sugar and not the healthiest. I’m not a nutritionist and haven’t done a deep dive into each of these salad kits.
Here are a couple of sauce/dressing inspirations I like to use
- Just use the pre-made dressing it comes with
- Use your own pre-made dressing that you like
- A simple drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Balsamic glaze can be a nice topping over another pre-made dressing
- Kewpie mayo!!!!! So good
- Your favorite hummus (this can add some creaminess)
- Pesto, or if you want something spicier, Zhoug
- Greek yogurt (Everything and the elote greek yogurt dip)
Build your salad!!
The last step is to add all of your ingredients together. For me, each of these salad kits lasts for 2 servings. I’ve had a couple last 3 but that’s only if I wasn’t super hungry that day. I like to put the salad down first, top it with all the fix-ins and protein(s). Finally, I layer the sauces and give it a good mix. Bon appetit!!
After writing this article I’m realizing that I put in almost as much effort as I would by creating a salad from scratch. However, I do think that buying these salad kits saves some time and effort because they already have some fun fix-ins. I also enjoy that the kits come with a variety of leafy greens so that you don’t have to spend time mixing your own greens or chopping them to create a chopped salad.
I encourage you to be creative with these salads. If you love a specific Sweetgreen bowl, Trader Joe’s probably has a good base you can start off with and you can go crazy and add whatever you would like. I would also like to note that these salads take 15 minutes tops to create and are so much cheaper than buying a salad from an expensive salad chain. Anyways, happy salad eating!