Posted on Jan 11, 2024, 5 p.m.
According to a random double opt-in survey involving 2000 general population adult Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Fresh Express, the average person is eating 4 salads a week, but only 14% are using the dressing as a dip on the side rather than toppings, and iceberg lettuce seems to be set to overtake the popularity of kale.
What will be in your next salad, spinach, kale, romaine, or iceberg lettuce? 31% of the respondents think that iceberg lettuce makes the best salad base while 23% prefer kale. The analysis also reveals that the average American is eating 4 salads per week, and 62% report that salads have become a part of their regular diet.
Salads may look simple, but many factors can go into creating an ideal salad mixture, with 48% of respondents agreeing that there is an ultimate salad combination. 78% think the ultimate salad should be chopped, 60% think it should be tossed with dressing, and 58% of the respondents think that a salad is best presented as a side dish. When thinking about that ultimate salad 51% of the respondents believe that it needs to have lots of toppings in it, with 57% thinking that certain fruits can make great toppings and 52% saying that roasted vegetables are delicious toppings.
15% of the respondents think that iceberg lettuce makes the best salad base, 14% prefer spinach, and 13% use romaine lettuce. 36% said that they like to include crunching toppings in their salads like croutons, 33% like walnut toppings, and 33% like to throw in some almonds. 46% of the respondents also like to add savory toppings like eggs, 45% like to toss in some seeds, and 45% like to sprinkle on some cheddar cheese. 18% said that they like some tomatoes in their salads, 17% enjoy cucumbers, and 16% put carrots in their salads. 13% think that a balsamic vinaigrette makes the best dressing, 12% like blue cheese, and 11% say that ranch makes the best ultimate salad dressing.
The analysis also revealed that salad preferences vary by generation, for example, 22% of Gen Z prefer to include fruit like blueberries (22%) and strawberries (22%) in their salads, and 43% of Millennials opt for croutons as their preferred topping as do 47% of Gen Xers and 43% of Boomers. 56% of Gen Z think salads should be a main dish, while the others still consider it to be a side dish.
But when it comes to toppings all generations agreed that salads need to have a minimum of 3 toppings, with 69% of the respondents saying that a salad is not complete without toppings and 65% will not eat a salad without dressing. Even the way people use salad dressing varies with 35% liking to mix dressing into their salads, 34% prefer to drizzle dressing over the salad, and only 14% keep the dressing on the side to use as a dip.
Not surprisingly some toppings made it onto a list of less desirable items, with 32%of the respondents reporting that they don’t like seeds in their salads, 39% don’t like popcorn in salads, 29% said that beans don’t belong in most salads, and 25% of the respondents believe that rice should never make an appearance in most salads.
“People continue to eat at home more often but are feeling recipe fatigue. Salads are a great way to not only eat fresh, healthy, ingredients but also encourage variety in everyday meals,” says Fabian Pereira, vice president of marketing and innovation at Fresh Express, in a statement. “The base, toppings, and dressing combinations are endlessly customizable. For those that want to keep mealtimes simple, salad kits are a great way to get everything in one convenient package.”
63% of the respondents reported that the toppings they use depend on the nutritional value, and 61% say that toppings vary depending on the season with 43% reporting that summer is the best time for salads and only 5% think winter salads are best.
Salads are becoming very popular, with 27% of the respondents reporting eating salads to get all of their veggies in one meal, 24% saying that they are a more healthful option, 15% said that most salads are easy and convenient to make, and 31% said that they prefer to have a salad as the perfect lunchtime meal.
“It’s great to see so much creativity and variety in the salads people make at home,” says Robin Bell, marketing manager at Fresh Express. “The survey showed people think there is an ‘ultimate salad,’ but we think any salad that is nutritious, delicious, and convenient and gets people excited to eat more vegetables is the ultimate!”
Simple tips to help you level up your salad game:
Salads can be a tricky dish to master, but some simple steps can help you step up your salad game to create a delicious and satisfying dish every time.
- Before you make your salad, wash your produce thoroughly, and make sure that you dry your greens. A salad spinner helps with this, if you don’t have one, gently press the greens between paper towels to remove excess moisture. This will help your salad stay crisp, and ensure that the dressing sticks to the leaves, because who likes a soggy salad? Yuck.
- Before you add any dressing, why not add some seasoning? Adding a pinch of salt and pepper can make a difference. You can even add a dash of your favorite herbs and spices if you are more adventurous. Remember to season with care and not go overboard though.
- The right or wrong dressing can either make or break a salad. Dress to impress rather than hide your salad and resist using too much. Generally, as a rule of thumb, 1-2 tablespoons per 4 cups of greens should be enough to add a burst of flavor without overpowering the rest of the salad.
- Experiment with your salads using different toppings. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with it to find your ultimate salad combination. Throw in some edamame, olives, raisins, or berries, avocado is a good topping too as is cucumber. Adding some crunch to your salad is not limited to croutons, you can add water chestnuts, nuts, seeds, carrots, or even apples among many other nutritious colorful options like sweet bell peppers.
- If you want to make that salad into a more filling meal, what you add to it can help with satiety. Try adding some protein options such as eggs, turkey, nuts, chickpeas, chicken, seeds, tuna, cheddar cheese, tofu, beans, tempeh, lentils, or quinoa which can turn your salad into a significantly more substantial meal.
Jazz it up, keep it fresh, power it up with protein, make it colorful, satisfy those carb cravings, and don’t forget to season it before dressing it to slay your salad game. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Salads don’t have to be boring; the options are almost limitless.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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T.W. at WHN