I'll be the first to admit that bagged salads don't usually impress me. Sure they're convenient, but they're just one step in my quest to get out of my salad rut. Fortunately for me, Dole just made prepackaged salads much more appealing.
The product: Dole salads ($2–3.50 for a 5-ounce bag; available at grocery stores nationwide)
The taste factor: Fresh, crisp, and everything else a salad needs to be. However, even salad devotees can't survive on lettuce alone. That's why Dole has made making a salad even easier. Thirty-two prepackaged salad blendsincluding Tender Garden, Spring Mix, Classic Romaine, and American Blendare relaunching to include labels with 1–5 scales of texture and taste. Ranging from mild to bold and tender to crunchy, you can hand-select the type of lettuce you prefer. Then the label takes it one step further by including ideas for making a meal out of the lettuce. Often they include other veggies, as well as nuts, cheese, and dressing.
The health factor: Salad is a simple, low-cal meal, which often contains vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid. However, it's hard to convince people that romaine lettuce will be more delicious than that bag of pretzels in the grocery store. But by putting delicious combinations on the front of the packaging, you'll conjure up images of restaurant-worthy salads. Sherry vinaigrette, toasted hazelnuts, and Gorgonzola cheese? That beats out a frozen meal any day.
Editors' pick: All the salad mixes we tried were fresh and delicious. However, my personal favorite was the Spring Mix, which I mixed with Fig and Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes (what the label recommended). It was a health no-brainerlow-cal veggies paired with plenty of Mediterranean-style, heart-healthy fats.
Why we love it: This meal is convenient for moms on the go, single professionals looking for a quick dinner, and anyone looking for tasty ways to get in their five-a-day. And if you're not familiar with all the types of lettuce, you can still select a crunchy, mild variety in no time.