Little Salad Bar Santa Fe Single Serve Salad Bowl (Aldi)

Overhead view of Little Salad Bar Santa Fe Single Serve Salad Bowl, from Aldi
A pretty decent "on the go" salad option.

Little Salad Bar is the moniker under which Aldi releases their “fresh” salad items, ranging from actual lettuce salads, to chicken salads, macaroni—if it has “salad” anywhere in the title, apparently it’s fair game. I have gone on, at length, about their flawless Caesar salad—far and away the best bagged salad I’ve ever had—but now it’s time to check out one of their newer offerings (at least, to our Aldi): single-serve salad bowls.

The salads come complete with all the ingredients you need, in convenient packaging that doubles as a bowl. Perhaps best of all, though, is that all of the ingredients are kept in separate compartments at the top of the salad, making it very easy to leave out anything you don’t want. It even includes a welcome surprise: Your very own fork, which is wedged between the topping compartment and the lettuce itself. Actually, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering it says it right on the packaging, but I didn’t notice that at all until now. Haha, oops.

Included ingredients consist of corn (a requirement in anything considered “Santa Fe”), chicken, shredded cheese, dressing, lettuce, and a small bag of corn chip pieces to sprinkle on top, both for a little added flavor, but more for some crunchy texture. The corn chips and lettuce are typical examples of each, and require no explanation.

The chicken, while it looks like it’s been seasoned with “Santa Fe” spices, or whatever, actually tastes pretty bland on its own—whether or not you eat chicken, you could easily omit this and not miss out on a single thing from a flavor perspective. The corn is sweet, but some of the pieces also have a char which seems to insinuate they were fire-roasted…and sure enough, the flavor corroborates this, with a smoky flavor that gives it more savory appeal than just sweet corn would.

The cheese, meanwhile, is a four-cheese white-and-orange blend consisting of Monterey jack, queso quesadilla, asadero, and cheddar cheeses. I have to admit that I didn’t really taste it by itself, nor did it really stand out amidst the other ingredients, so I’m thinking this is just your typical “taco” cheese combination. The dressing is a ranch salsa, which offers up a strong kick of flavor that ties everything together, with very little heat (though there is a little bit, in true “Santa Fe” style). It’s rich, creamy, in-your-face, and very delicious…Aldi could probably do well packaging it up in bottles and selling it separate, if they don’t already. It's the best part of the entire package.

Combined together, the ingredients are more than the sum of their parts: The salad isn't going to win any flavor awards, and is “Santa Fe” more in appearance than actual taste, but it's still a pretty good option for a quick, convenient snack (or meal) on the go.

The main drawback, as always seems to be the case with “convenience” items, is that they sell these single-serve bowls for $2.89, while bagged salads—capable of feeding 2-4 people—are around the same price (with the stellar Caesar the most affordable option, coming in at a mere $1.99). That's a standard pricing strategy for single serve items, but also a factor that ensures I won't be grabbing these very often at all.

Overall: 7/10. Although it looks more “Santa Fe” than it tastes, this single-serve salad is still a good option for a quick snack (or meal) on the go, with all the ingredients and utensils you need (including a fork!) packed inside. Even better: the ingredients are individually compartmentalized, allowing you to add as little or as much of each as you want, or even omitting some altogether, which is a nice touch. The biggest drawback, as is standard for items borne out of “convenience”, is the $2.89 price tag, making it retail for more than the multi-serve bagged Caesar ($1.99), and their other multi-serving bagged options (around $2.49 each). At that price, I won't be picking many up, but good to know it's there if I ever need something quick and easy.