Your Guide to Perfectly Fresh Salad Delivery, Every Time

No soggy messes or dry disasters here.

6 min read
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When you think of a fast, healthy to-go lunch, the first thing that probably comes to mind is salad. And that’s fair, because it’s safe to say we’re living in the golden age of the salad. From Sweetgreen and Chopt to Just Salad and Saladworks, you can easily have a nutrient-dense, delicious salad delivered or ready for pickup in half an hour or less. 

When done right, a salad prepared by a professional is about as ideal as it gets. If you’ve ever had a perfectly dressed pile of lettuce with just the right ratio of toppings at a restaurant, you know what I’m talking about. The problem? Sometimes, when those to-go salads show up, the ingredients are exactly what you’re looking for, but the whole package isn’t great. 

Maybe it’s soggy or limp, or you could be faced with way too much lettuce and so few toppings that you almost forget they’re there. So, what can you do to order a salad so it shows up exactly as you dreamed it would? We asked the professionals — and here’s their advice. 

Timing is everything.

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Arguably, the most important element of any salad is the dressing. But should you get it dressed ahead or do it at home? “If you’re eating it right away, I would recommend mixing it,” he says. “If you’re saving it for later, then you should ask for dressing on the side,” says Just Salad's Culinary Director Jhonny Castro.

Even with the dressing on the side, sometimes salad ingredients will still show up limp and soggy anyway. Want to avoid that? Put in a few special requests on your delivery app. “Ask that any moist ingredients (such as cucumbers and tomatoes) be kept on the side to avoid excess moisture, and request to have any crunchy toppings, like nuts or croutons, to be kept on the side to maintain their texture,” Chicago-based registered dietitian Katie Olzewski says. “You can also opt for greens like kale or spinach that can hold up the dressing better and won’t wilt as quickly as more delicate lettuces.” 

Learn the art of dressing on the side.


If you’ve ever ordered a salad with dressing on the side, you probably know that the amount you order matters. Unless you’re being super mindful of calorie intake, Castro recommends ordering two to three containers of dressing. Though if you’re having a lighter, oil- and vinegar-based dressing that will spread throughout the salad more easily, one is probably enough.  

That said, Olszewski suggests ordering more than one container of salad dressing no matter what. “It really depends on the size of the salad and how much dressing you prefer, but I recommend ordering one or two extras just in case the salad turns out to be larger than expected,” she says. “I like having a backup for good measure.”

As for the actual mixing, it’s an art. “Add the dressing, close the lid to your salad, and then shake it up and down and sideways for an even finish,” Castro says. “You can mix it with a fork afterward for a more even distribution.”

Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health, believes that if you’re willing to do a little extra work, a perfectly dressed to-go salad starts with transferring it out of its container and into a bowl. “This allows for better mixing and ensures that all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the salad,” she says. “You can use two utensils for mixing. Proper mixing ensures even distribution of salad ingredients and dressing.” 

It’s all in the toppings-to-greens ratio.


Most of us have seen salads with too many greens and not enough extra flavor and crunch. Castro says one easy fix for this is to order something off the pre-set salad menu rather than coming up with your own concoction. “Those recipes are typically well-portioned on the ratio of lettuce to ingredients,” he says. “If you opt to build your own, you should make sure to get at least five essential ingredients, a protein, and a cheese or other premium for an even balance.”

Olszewski stresses that communication with the restaurant is key. “You can request extra vegetables, leafy greens, or ask for a specific ratio of lettuce to other ingredients in the tab you’re ordering from,” she says. “Ordering alternative greens, such as kale, spinach, or arugula, not only hold dressings well, but also have more nutrients.” 

When in doubt, Olszewski says, “you can always leave a comment for the restaurant to explain how you would like it prepared, ensuring you get the perfect combo.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Illustrated by Sam Twardy