Salad packs cover a wide range of both lettuce and slaw mixes. Adding vegetables to a meal has never been easier!
They come in single-serve packs to family sizes, with a variety of vegetables, and with or without dressings. Most are nutritious and low in sodium, saturated fat, sugar and kilojoules. They contain reasonable amounts of fibre, vitamins and minerals, although these are not stated on the nutrition information panel. Salad mixes are convenient and tasty and get the thumbs-up from us!
The salads we looked at were all relatively low in energy. They ranged from bags of lettuce without any dressing at 40-50kJ per serve, to more substantial salads with accompaniments and dressings, such as Taylor Farms Kale Chopped Salad with savoy cabbage, cheese and croutons at 840kJ per serve.
Make a meal of it: To make a meal with the salads, add protein and carbohydrate. For example, a small tin of tuna and a cup of instant brown rice and quinoa mix adds 1120kJ, 21g protein, 1g saturated fat, 3g fibre and 310mg of sodium.
The dressing in the salad packs can be high in fat, both the good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) and saturated fats (the fats we want to keep to a minimum). We recommend choosing salads (including dressing) with 5g saturated fat or less per 100g.
The sodium content varies in the salad packs from 5mg per serve in the undressed products, to 330mg per serve in the Taylor Farms Asian Chopped Salad. For those salads with a higher sodium content, what we have with them becomes more important. For example, 100g of ham will add 1300mg of sodium whereas 100g of chicken will add only 65mg of sodium. We recommend choosing salads (including dressing) with 400mg sodium or less per 100mg.
The World Health Organization suggests we limit the amount of free sugars in our diet to five per cent of our energy. This means around 26g free sugars in an 8700kJ day, the equivalent of just over five teaspoons of table sugar. Adding a little sugar to salad dressings is fine, but we want to keep it to a minimum. We recommend choosing salads (including dressing) with 10g sugar or less per 100g. And 5g sugar or less per 100g is even better.
But what about dressings?
The dressings in the salad packs can be not only tasty but beneficial. The fat, particularly monounsaturated fat, helps us absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as carotenoids found in salads. These carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk in heart disease, eye disease and some cancers. Canola, olive or avocado oil are all high in monounsaturated fat.
Note: We haven’t included the salad packs without dressing in our selections but they are fantastic. Make your own vinaigrette to suit your needs. Either 1 part oil to 1 part vinegar (260kJ) or 1 part oil to 2 parts vinegar (175kJ) per 20ml serve.
How to choose
Use these criteria to compare dressings
Some healthier choices we found
$3.79 per 180g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 94kJ; 0.1g sat fat; 1.5g sugar; 106mg sodium; $2.10
A good basic lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Crunchy leaves and a tasty dressing.
$3.99 per 250g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 417kJ; 1.3g sat fat; 2.5g sugar; 331mg sodium; $1.60
Crunchy cos lettuce with Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese and croutons. Authentic dressing.
$6.49 per 260g pack
Nutrition per 100g: 428kJ; 2g sat fat; 3.5g sugar; 184mg sodium; $2.50
We like the addition of the cheese. A good base to add more veges to. The dressing has a tasty flavour.
$5.99 per 350g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 590kJ; 1.5g sat fat; 3g sugar; 140mg sodium; $1.71
Yum! Lovely textures and flavours. The crispy tortillas are a hit.
$4.99 per 500g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 532kJ; 1.6g sat fat; 2.5g sugar; 237mg sodium; $1.00
Lots of crunch! A great mix of veges. Lovely.
$4.98 per 500g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 512kJ; 1.7g sat fat; 3.1g sugar; 200mg sodium; $1.00
A tasty Asian sesame flavour to the slaw. Crunchy and delicious!
$4.49 per 460g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 310kJ; <1g sat fat; 3.9g sugar; 149mg sodium; $0.98
Interesting vegetable selection and the sesame dressing adds a delicious flavour.
$5.99 per 350g bag
Nutrition per 100g: 670kJ; 1.5g sat fat; 6g sugar; 330mg sodium; $1.71
The addition of coriander is delicious. We love the almonds and wonton noodles. A favourite.
Article sources and references
- Goltz R et al. 2011. Meal triglyceride profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. The FASEB Journal 25:S975.10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22707262
- World Health Organization. 2015. WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children, who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/