How to Make at Home Bagged Salads

A staple in my household for years has been premade bagged salads. Especially, the ones that come with several toppings and delicious dressing all packed up and pre-portioned? Yes, those heavenly goodies. My family used to add protein to them (egg, tuna/salmon, chicken, tofu) and eat them as a meal for lunches, or as sides for dinners.

However, as convenient as these guys are, they are not the most environmentally friendly or cost effective, and since we were tired of wasting money and plastic, my mom and I went scavenging through the glorious varieties of bagged salads and found the most common toppings, dressings, and greens to recreate these salads on our own. Now, It’s super easy to make these salads on our own and all you need is storage containers to keep the toppings fresh!

 It all starts with a base:

For starters, most salads use one or more of the following greens:

  • Romaine (red or green)
  • Cabbage (red or green)
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Friese
  • Iceberg
  • Arugula
  • Baby lettuce varieties

With this in mind, it is easy to customize a salad with the greens you love most. A mix of greens offers the most nutritional value and is what I personally prefer. To mask the greens, I don’t particularly like (not pointing fingers but kale and spinach are not my favorite) I add more of the ones I do like. My personal favorite blend is a base of mainly red and green romaine with spinach, arugula, and Friese.

Next, Toppings

Then, toppings are where it starts to get fun. Personally, I keep all most of the dried ingredients on hand at home and mix different variations of 3-4 of them for each salad. Salad toppings are great because they bring so much flavor and dimension to the salad, while also adding so many additional health benefits.

  • Seeds: (2 tablespoons raw or toasted)
    • Pumpkin
    • Sunflower
    • Sesame
    • Chia
    • Flax
  • Dried fruits (2 tablespoons)
    • Cranberry
    • Raisin
    • Cherry
    • Pomegranate
  • Fresh fruits (1/2 cup)
    • Strawberry
    • Mandarin oranges
    • Green apple
  • Nuts (2 tablespoons raw or toasted)
    • Walnuts
    • Slivered almonds
    • Pecans
  • Chip like toppings (1/3 cup)
    • Tortilla strips
    • Dried Asian noodles
    • Croutons
    • Wonton strips
    • Pita chips
  • Veggies (1/2 cup)
    • Broccoli stem shreds
    • Cauliflower stem shreds
    • Carrot shreds
    • Green onion
    • Slivered red, yellow, orange, or green pepper
  • Cheese (2 tablespoons)
    • Feta
    • Bleu
    • Parmesan
    • Mozzarella
    • Cheddar
  • Protein (3 oz)
    • Baked chicken
    • Grilled salmon
    • Grilled/baked shrimp
    • Grilled/canned tuna
    • Grilled/baked/fresh tofu
    • 1-2 hardboiled eggs

Last, dress that baby up!

Last, Opt for an oil-based dressing to keep it light or yogurt-based dressing if you’re craving something rich and creamy. Some dressings I always have on hand in my fridge are…

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Yogurt based ranch/chipotle ranch
  • Yogurt based creamy caser and oil-based Caesar
  • Asian sesame dressing
  • Fruity vinaigrettes

To emphasize on the many delicious salad recipes you can create check out these five tasty recipes below!

Athletes – Chipotle Cheddar Salad:

First, as an athlete, you are always looking for delicious and filling meals to give you fuel before and after an event, practice, or game. This chipotle cheddar salad gives you the perfect balance of smokey, tangy, and crunchy!n

Diabetes – Lite Casear Salad:

Chicken Caesar salads are one of the most popular salads to order at restaurants! This simple yet tasty salad recipe is perfect for those with diabetes having to watch their blood sugar and carbohydrate intake.

High Cholesterol – Pomegranate and Cranberry Salmon Salad:

This entire recipe is filled with heart healthy ingredients! Salmon is packed with protein, high in omega-3, and low in saturated fat and the pomegranate and cranberries are high in antioxidants perfect for lowering cholesterol.

Chronic Kidney Disease- Fresh Watermelon Salad:

Watermelon salad

Watermelon Salad (photo credit Kaitlin Williams Eckstein)

Watermelon is an amazing salad ingredient because it adds bulk and flavor, while still being light and low sodium. Dark berries like blackberries are recommended for those with chronic kidney disease due to their nutrient value, in addition to being a tasty ingredient. Feta, walnuts, and tofu all add healthy protein and fat while not adding too much sodium. This salad provides lots of nutrients ideal for someone with kidney disease (or anyone in general!). Recipe here

PCOS- Pear and Walnut Salmon Salad:

This Pear & Walnut Salmon Salad is the perfect salad for anyone struggling with PCOS. Together with the olive oil-balsamic dressing, chopped walnuts, and leafy greens will help reduce inflammation, which can be beneficial to women struggling with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

IBS- Asian Sesame Salad:

Lastly,Inspired by Asian cuisine, this salad incorporates a unique blend of subtle flavors. With a bit of crunch from nuts and seeds, a citrusy kick from clementine slices, and Low-FODMAP salad greens, this plate is sure to satiate, while keeping digestive discomfort at bay.

If you need help with meal ideas for your chronic condition make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians by calling 301-474-2499 or emailing 

Website | + posts

Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.