This post is dedicated to all the fathers out there who against all stereotypes adore vegetables and salads. Sure, dads still grill and feed you things you probably ought not to eat but you can because mom is out of town. But my own father and my father-in-law? Both are very veggie-leaning these days, which works out for me on most days considering that I lean that way myself. And yes, every celebrity chef out there on a crusade to get us to cook more and eat fewer processed foods has lamented over the subpar-ness of packaged salad. Fresh ingredients are so much better! And cheaper! Except on an average day, I can't be bothered to wash salad greens for the life of me. I imagine that's the battle most of us face - will you pay for health with time or money?
3.5 servings in this bag, probably as a side salad. I ate almost the entire bag as a meal.
On the surface, this appears quite similar to the Mediterranean salad kit from Costco with a few minor differences - this one has celery, shredded broccoli stalks, crispy pita chips and chickpeas, and sundried tomatoes along with the usual suspects.
Although this can be a standalone product, I don't think it was meant to be so. It functions fine as a side salad, but I was lowkey disappointed by the scant amount of toppings, but perhaps I'm expecting too much out of a salad kit. After all, I like my salads to have as much topping as leafy green. The amount of crispy chickpeas, pita, feta, and sun dried tomato is proportionally on par with the amount of toppings in other salad kits. If you're planning to use it as a base for a more substantial meal, you can definitely bulk it up with more protein and maybe something juicy/sweet like tomatoes or another fruit.
That said, I do like this salad kit since it does have a bit of a Mediterranean-inspired flair. I love the crunchiness and balance of textures. The base isn't bitter, and the broccoli stalks give a nice crunch alongside the celery. The roasted chickpeas are pretty delicious and I only wish that there were more of them (actually I think these could be sold as snacks; a ranch version currently exists). Feta adds a nice salty creaminess (I wish there was more!). The sun dried tomato is a bit tart but there isn't enough of it to make a noticeable difference. The dressing is solid - taste wise it's close to but better than the bottled vinaigrettes I might buy in a pinch. Not too sour but tangy enough for my taste and really just brings it all together.
I contemplated picking up a similar salad mix from Costco for the dinner we cooked for my father-in-law. I mean, you can't deny that this stuff is convenient and tastes pretty good. But considering the time and effort that I *could* put in, it seemed wrong to do so on this particular occasion. I could see my own dad, who sends pictures of his organically grown produce in his plot in the community vegetable patch (so ahead of y'all hipsters haha), not doing an eye-roll per se but certainly with a blank look that says, "...but why..."
But for a quick weekday meal, needed to be assembled in post-work zombie state? $3.99 for a 12.95 oz bag is just about comparable to other supermarket alternatives. Won't be part of my regular rotation, but I'd repurchase again.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit. Refreshing, crunchy, and perfect to be dressed up. Or as is. Whatever your fiber fancy. 7.5 out of 10. Mantou Joe repurchase? When lazy/tired/I need fiber beats time and money.