Healthy Eating Tips

I Tried 4 Ways To Keep Bagged Salad Fresh, and This Was the Most Effective Method by a Longshot

Photo: Stocksy/ Stacy Allen
While some of the best things in life—like PB&J, ice cream and sprinkles, and salt and pepper—are better together, that can’t be said about everything. For instance, when it comes to storing bagged salad, moisture and lettuce are definitely *not* a pairing you’ll ever want to encourage.

Despite our best intentions, every now and then, we’re faced with the need to throw away yet another bag of wilted, soggy, and (ahem) expensive bagged salad greens. Is it just me, or do bagged baby greens, bibb lettuce, and spinach seem to turn into a sad pile of mush in the blink of an eye? Since food waste really isn’t our jam, we tested out the best ways to keep bagged salad fresh and determined which was the most effective method. Spoiler: There’s definitely one clear winner, and it’s so worth the extra step.

How to keep bagged salad fresh for as long as possible

As tempted as you may be to toss that new bag of lettuce into your crisper drawer as soon as you're home from the grocery store and call it a day, we’re here to say: please don’t! Unless you intend to eat the entire bag of salad the same day, storing greens just the way you bought them can lead to their demise sooner than you'd like. To keep them fresh for at least a week, start by grabbing a few clean sheets of paper (or thin, reusable cloth) towels.

Test 1: Adding a piece of paper towel to the bagged salad

One of the easiest ways to extend the life of bagged salad is by adding a piece of paper towel into the mix. Though it might seem almost too simple, know that adding a towel to the mix can help absorb any moisture trapped in the bag, which will help prevent unwanted wilting and stop bacterial growth.

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As demonstrated in this TikTok video by @the.lolamercado, Lola Mercado opens the bag, throws in a few paper towels along the edges, removes the air from the bag, and seals it (you can use a chip clip). When we tested this method—though effective for keeping your greens in good shape for three to four days—we found that it caused our tender greens (like spinach) to bruise and get scrunched up in the bag. That being said, if you’re tight on extra room in the fridge, it’s definitely a solid space-saving trick—and by far the easiest of them all.

Test 2: Transferring bagged salad into a resealable bag and adding paper towels

Just like in the previous method, this one calls for transferring the contents of the bagged salad into a clean plastic bag lined with paper towels and storing it in the refrigerator, as shown in this video by @annarockstarfitness. Yes, this method gives the bagged salad a little more room to spread (so long as you're using a large gallon-sized bag), which is good news when it comes to avoiding crushed, soggy greens. Plus, the resealable lock makes accessing small portions at a time a breeze. However, unless you’re using a *reusable* resealable plastic bag (like Stasher bags), it may cause unnecessary plastic waste.

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Test 3: Transferring the bagged salad to a container and replacing the paper towels daily

This might be the most labor-intensive method out of the bunch. It entails transferring the bagged salad into a clean bowl (or container), adding a few paper towels on top, sealing it with a lid, and then—the most important part—flipping it upside down before storing it in the refrigerator. Then, as described in this video by @easyrecipesandtips, you’ll want to switch out the paper towels daily. We found that this method helped maintain moisture levels at bay and keep salad fresh for upwards of a week (depending on the heartiness of the greens). However, it did entail a few extra steps that might be considered a tad too tedious for some to maintain, which is fair.

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Test 4 (the winner!): Adding paper towels to the salad in a clamshell container

Out of the bunch, this method, as demonstrated here by @kailinschoice, proved to be our favorite in terms of efficacy, ease, and practicality. It involves simply opening a clamshell container filled with your greens, adding a few paper towels to cover the greens, and then flipping it over before storing it in the fridge. We found that this method also kept salad fresh for up to a week (maybe even longer if you're lucky), plus it was the easiest trick to execute and didn’t require additional plastic baggies or extra steps. It’s a 10 out of 10 for us.

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Additional ways to keep bagged salad fresher for longer

Tl; DR: To ensure that your bagged salad stays fresher for longer, reduce moisture wherever possible. This may mean swapping out the paper towels daily as they absorb humidity, or waiting to add any toppings or dressings that can moisten the delicate leaves.

Additionally, as soon as you bring home a bag of greens, sorting through them to remove any leaves that have started to wilt can help reduce humidity levels or bacteria that can spread to the rest of the salad. Plus, choosing heartier greens (like kale or arugula) can also help prolong their life, as they aren’t as less susceptible to wilting as opposed to other softer, more delicate varieties.

So, what to do with *all* of your oh-so-fresh greens? This easy kale salad with fresh honey lemon dressing, of course:

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