I had the saddest salad yesterday.

Trader Joe’s is known for a lot of good things, but it’s also known for sad salads. The store’s distribution and thrifty retail strategy might have something to do with it. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

After a morning meeting near the Trader Joe’s in Rollingwood, I stopped by the store for some snacks, flowers for the house and something quick to eat for lunch. I’d been cooking at home for the month of January and was craving one of those prepared salads. I knew Trader Joe’s would have lots to choose from.

I’d forgotten that Trader Joe’s salads are simply awful. I’m sure they don’t start that way, but it always seems that every salad on the shelves is a day away from expiring. Every. Single. One.

I noticed it when I was shopping in the store yesterday and had a sense of deju vu that I’d already learned this lesson before. I continued in my grocery shopping denial and I bought one anyway, the Mexicali with Chili Lime Chicken. It comes with roasted corn and a tangy dressing. The pepita seeds stayed crunchy in a little plastic container, but by the time I opened that salad on my desk, the wilted greens were the very definition of a “sad desk lunch.”

About a year ago, I finally learned not to buy baked goods at Trader Joe’s after a package of English muffins molded the day after I bought them, and yesterday was the moment I think I finally learned the salad lesson, too.

I tried to make the best of it and at least eat the chicken, corn and pepitas, but I couldn’t even choke down half of it. Frustrated that I’d fallen for yet another disappointing Trader Joe’s prepared food item, I asked around online to see if anyone else was ready to give up on TJ salads altogether. Kristin Sheppard confirmed that this isn’t just a one-off experience:

I was burned a few times before finally swearing off their salads forever. It’s a shame because they have a good selection. But yeah, always past their prime.

— MadBetty (@MadBettyATX) February 1, 2018

And she’s not alone:

Hmm, the Trader Joe’s southwestern chopped salad is pale and sad.

Do not recommend