salad in a bag

The Best Reason Not to Buy Prewashed Salad in a Bag

Pre-washed, pre-chopped, ready-to-go salad greens in sealed bags can be found in the produce department of just about every grocery store and supermarket.

Those bags are certainly a tempting option because what’s not to like about having someone else do all the work of chopping and then double- or even triple-washing?  Even so, I don’t buy bagged salad but not be for the reasons you might assume.

salad in a bag

Not fear of bacteria

It’s not because I’m overly concerned that bacteria might make it through all that pre-washing in a chlorinated bath (although tests conducted by Consumer Reports did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation). I seriously doubt that any grocery store’s produce department is 100% bacteria-free. Watching customers touch and test fresh produce is one such indicator.

Not creepy contamination

It’s not the rumors of fecal contamination when samples of all kinds of packaged greens from baby greens to spinach, traditional, and organic were tested. As creepy as that is to think about, even Consumer Reports assures that the contamination falls within the FDA’s acceptable levels.

Not degradation

It’s not even my concern about just how long ago these greens were cut and washed. Granted, I am not a fan of limp, brown-ish, tired-appearing romaine, iceberg lettuce, or cabbage. And even though I am a believer that once you wash, cut, and prepare any kind of fresh produce—be it fruit or vegetables—the flavor and quality begin to degrade, that’s not it either.

It’s not any of those things that cause me to just walk on by that prepackaged section in my supermarket’s produce department.

The costbagged vs fresh romaine

The reason I don’t buy salad in a bag is the cost. Paying at least four times the cost of the bulk option to get my salad greens cut up, pre-washed, and then sealed in a plastic bag or box is just too hard to swallow.

As I write, Dole Hearts of Romaine prewashed and chopped in a 9-ounce bag is $3.49 at my supermarket. A fresh head of romaine lettuce is $1.49, or about $.83 for a 9-ounce equivalent. That’s a 420% markup! Granted, I get that there are prep, labor, and packaging costs required for the bagged option. But just seeing the difference in price makes me more than willing to handle all of that myself.

Bag vs. bulk

As I’ve queried readers and friends on the bag versus bulk question, the overarching reason so many people go for the prepackaged, triple-washed, salad greens in a bag, comes down to one thing: time. Bagged salads are convenient and so easy to grab and go.

(Ironically, nearly everyone I’ve chatted with admits to rewashing those bagged salad greens, just to be on the safe side. So where’s all the convenience and time-saving in that?)

The test

I did my own time test. I washed and shredded an entire head of green cabbage using a sharp knife. I chose cabbage over Romaine lettuce for my test because, well, I love cabbage.

I was done— washed-to-finish in 7 minutes. I ended up with a great big bowl of beautiful, bright green, crunchy, fresh cabbage for our favorite coleslaw. It took another 5 minutes to make the yummy dressing. Total cost about $2, complete. Yum.

 

Prewashed tips

bags of prewashed salad greens

If you still prefer to purchase prewashed salad greens, follow these tips:

  • Buy packages as far from their use-by date as you can find.
  • Even if the bag says “prewashed” or “triple-washed,” wash the greens yourself. Rinsing won’t remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by keeping greens away from raw meat.

Question: Do you buy pre-packaged greens that come in a bag or box? If so, do you rewash?

A bowl of rice on a plate, with Coleslaw

Sweet Restaurant-Style Coleslaw

If you've ever wished you could duplicate the coleslaw served at popular fried chicken or fish restaurants, here's your dream-come-true. It's excellent with burgers or on top of pulled pork sandwiches, too. Or all by itself.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill in the refrigerator: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 114kcal
Cost: About $2.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • cup Miracle Whip, or mayonnaise is a fine substitute
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onion, and carrot.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together Miracle Whip or mayonnaise, oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and poppy seeds.
  • Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.
  • Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 985IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

 

 

 

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35 replies
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  1. Taryn Palo says:

    I like mixed greens. As there are only 2 of us I would have to buy a head of romaine – head of cabbage – baby spinach – etc etc. Buy the time I buy all of that – wash chop etc – there is waaayyy more than I can possibly use in a couple days.

    Reply
  2. Carolyn F Campbell says:

    I prefer the pre packaged salads. For me, they are cheaper as I was constantly throwing away greens that were more brown. I am the only salad eater in my house. And to buy a nice selection for a “good” salad means there will be waste. Now I eat the whole thing as my dinner with a little leftover protein thrown in. And, No I don’t wash it first.

    Reply
  3. Wendy says:

    I almost NEVEREVEREVER buy pre-washed. Ridiculous mark-up. I can cut up a head of lettuce (often use scissors) in 5 minutes. Wrap what not used in paper towel, plastic bag from produce dept. (free) and back into frig. ALSO, sometimes buy pre-shredded cabbage — 5 lb bag and if purchasing 3, price is reduced. STORE IN FRIG* knowing it will get limp. I then cut slit in bottom of bag, let excess liquid run out, rinse it off and put in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave. It will bake and is wonderful. I sprinkle with soy sauce or grated cheese or other spices. Several sessions in microwave until top is somewhat brown. So, slaw isn’t always cole. *It keeps for well over a week.

    Reply
  4. Cally Ross says:

    I don’t buy bagged greens (except for Spinach) because I think they taste like the bag, even after rinsing I think they still taste “off”.
    the cost would be the second reason.

    Reply
  5. Michelle Stewart says:

    5 stars
    I shop monthly, buying all my produce at that trip, then clean and prep the sink full of goods at one time, using white vinegar as my disinfecting b agent, rather than chlorine. I insert one paper towel into each bag of prepped produce product to absorb excess moisture. Sometimes I forget a bag to find it a month later; the food is almost always still edible.

    Reply
  6. Mary says:

    Dear Mary,
    I have been eating bagged greens for years, and I have never washed them.The bag says they are washed and ready to eat, so why should I re-wash them?
    Mary

    Reply
  7. Sherill says:

    I buy organic mixed greens. More nutritious than iceberg or romaine lettuce, and not available in bulk where I live this time of the year. I don’t wash them.

    Reply
  8. Linnea J Priest says:

    I buy a box or bag because I want organic greens. Too many pesticides otherwise. Please see the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) list of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.

    Reply
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