Say so long to soggy, slimy salad greens. These tips will make your bagged lettuce last longer.

By Kimberly Holland
Updated: April 01, 2019
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Bagged greens are a grocery list staple for a reason. They can be used in a variety of dishes—grain bowls, frittatas, smoothies, pastas, and salads, of course—so many health-minded shoppers instinctively reach for a bag or two during each week’s grocery store stock-up session.

But come Tuesday, those greens are likely looking a little gross. Bagged lettuce, perhaps a necessary evil, is notorious for slipping into a slimy, half-rotted state before you’re able to use even half the bag.

The good news is that you don’t have to keep tossing those tattered leaves. These storage tips will help keep bagged salad fresh longer, and a few easy purchasing hacks can help you make a better selection from the start.

How to Store Bagged Salad Greens

Two easy methods—one fast, the other a bit more involved—can give your greens a longer shelf life.

Try the paper towel trick

The moment you’re home, pop open that bag of greens. Rip a fresh paper towel from the roll, slide it into the bag of greens, and seal with a chip clip.

The paper towel will absorb moisture that would otherwise lead your leaves to rot. This will help the greens stay fresh, and it will give you more time to use up the bag. Replace the towel every day for best results.

Store the lettuce in another container

The thin plastic bag that houses most salad greens offers little protection from rolling peppers and heavy fruits also occupying the crisper drawer. Prevent bumps and bruises, which will make the greens turn soggy faster, by moving them from the bag to an airtight plastic storage container.

First, layer the bottom of the container with paper towels. They’ll absorb moisture. Then, gently pack the leaves in the container and top with another paper towel before storing in the crisper drawer. Don’t pack the leaves too tightly, or they won’t have breathing room (that can invite rapid rot).

Smart Tips for Purchasing Packaged Greens

You can give your salad greens a leg up on a longer life by buying a better package to begin with.

Buy greens in a clamshell

Salad greens have a long journey from field to table, and similar to what happens in your crisper drawer, the flimsy bag that holds them does little to protect the delicate leaves from bumps along the way. Clamshells, on the other hand, are more sturdy. They can take the impact of a long transport and leave your leaves in better shape. These protective plastic containers are also recyclable and can be used to store other greens you buy later.

Choose heartier greens

Butter lettuces, like Bibb and Boston, may wilt quickly, but heartier greens like arugula, watercress, baby spinach, and baby kale tend to stay fresh longer. They’re also super versatile: use them as the base for salads and grain bowls, and when they start to turn, cook them down for soups, frittatas, and more. Case in point? More bang for your buck.  

Buy the freshest possible bag

You’ll need to do a little digging, but head for the back of the rack to find the freshest lettuces. The bags in front likely have the nearest expiration date as stocks are trained to put new bags in the back. If, however, you’re planning to use these greens soon, get the first bags. They’ll be fine for a few days, especially if you heed these storage tips.

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