Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Little Salad Bar Chicken Caesar Single Serve Salad Bowl (Aldi)

It tastes good, and packs protein, but better options exist.

In a previous review I mentioned that Aldi is now offering up single-serve salad bowls for those on the go, and while I made it a point to make clear that the $2.89 asking price is more than they charge for their (mostly excellent) multi-serving bagged salads, it still provides some convenience for those on the go (which is obviously the point).

There, with that preface out of the way, let's dig right in to what I thought of the Chicken Caesar salad variety of their pre-bowled salads.

The four compartments in this one house parmesan style cheese, and a cup of Caesar dressing, with two sections reserved for chicken. Just like in the other bowl, there is a “hidden” surprise for those people like me who didn't bother to fully read the package beyond the ingredients: a little fork! This is especially good for me, considering I took this to work with me for lunch, and always forget to pack plasticware myself; this thoughtful little inclusion saved me the hassle of having to waste precious break time scouring for one.

Onto the taste: The chicken is about as bland as you’d expect on its own, providing a little spongey texture and that’s about it. Thankfully, there is enough dressing to blanket the entire salad, thus allowing you to make sure to coat the chicken pieces in enough dressing to give it some flavor. The “parmesan style cheese” (as it’s alluded to on the packaging) tastes exactly like the parmesan cheese we’re all familiar with, and makes you wonder why that designation is necessary (unless it’s saying it’s not actually from the Parmesan region of France, although I can’t recall another product where this distinction was necessary).

The dressing is strongly reminiscent of the kind from their larger bagged Caesar salad, with a nice tangy kick, and a nice, thick texture. It really compliments the rest of the salad well, as it should, and stands out as the best, most distinctive part of the entire combination.

I guess whether or not this is worth it to you depends on two things: your tolerance (or “fondness”, as the case may be) for pre-cubed chicken pieces, because that’s all that’s different between this and their virtually-flawless large bagged salad; and the amount of convenience you require. Their bagged Caesar provides insane value: It’s almost a dollar less ($1.99 as of this writing), and with enough servings for at least two people, or one hungry one. Personally, I'm not against weird processed chicken pieces, but I wouldn't consider including it in anything an incentive to buy it, especially when it apparently jacks up the price (though the “convenience” angle also plays a large role). In its defense, the chicken does add 16g of protein, too, which is a solid amount for those on protein-based diets; I would think with energy bars everywhere now, there are more practical and inexpensive ways to get that, but if you're going to be eating a salad anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone?

As for the latter reasoning, if I'm going to be making something purely out of convenience, it's not going to be a salad: it's going to be a more filling frozen meal, or a heavier snack between meals to tide my appetite. Sure, I may be in the vast minority, now that everyone seems to be trying to cut back on calories and eating healthier, but even in that case, I would think the target demographic would be kind of weirded out by the weird cubed meat chunks. But maybe I'm wrong.

Long story short, I wouldn't get this again, and neither should you, because I'm the foremost expert on how to run your life.

Overall: 5/10. It's not a terrible product at all, but unless you have an intense craving for chunks of cold, pre-cubed chicken pieces, or are on a protein-based diet and want something other than a drink or protein bar (it has a respectable 16g of protein per bowl), there's just very little reason to pick this up, especially for the price. As an alternative, their bagged Caesar salad is phenomenal, and can be rationed out into multiple days' worth of sides (or meals) with a little extra foresight and time; in fact, this tastes a lot like that one, only with the addition of meat chunks, and a price hike of nearly $1 for the “convenience”. This isn't for me, but if it sounds like it's down your alley, then by all means go for it. The little fork that's included is damn cute, though.


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