Pack lunches for you and your family for the whole week with this simple meal planning tip: Mason jar salads. Pack it for yourself, your spouse or even the kids. You can do simple salads and let the kids choose their favorite salad fixings.
I like to do this on Sunday and make our lunches for the entire week in less than an hour. It’s a great way to plan ahead and make sure you’re using up all your fresh fruit and vegetables.
Basics of Mason Jar Salads
Before you get started, there are some basics to learn.
First, get the right equipment. Pint-sized Mason jars are perfect for individual salads. Quart-sized Mason jars are better for family meals or for anyone who wants a BIG salad. If you’re going to a party or potluck, then pack 2 quart-sized jars. It’s definitely better to get the wide-mouth jars so it’s easy to stick a fork in and get bite-sized pieces.
Second, it’s all about layering ingredients in the right order. If you put the lettuce on the bottom, for instance, it’ll likely get soggy by lunch time. The trick is to layer the denser foods on the bottom, the hard-skinned vegetables in the middle, the salad toppers like seeds and nuts about that, and the leafy-green vegetables and herbs on the top.
Third, decide what you want to do with the dressing. You have a couple of options here. You could put it on the very bottom even before you add the grains or starches. That way the rest of the vegetables don’t get soggy from the dressing. This is great if you truly want a one jar solution to take on the go. I personally prefer my dressing on the side, so I add it to another glass container that I take with me to use when I’m ready to eat my salad.
Finally, when you’re ready to eat the salad, just add the dressing (if it’s on the side), put the lid back on and shake it up. You’re salad should be ready to go.
How to Pack Salads in Mason Jars
Bottom Layer – Grains or Starches
Be sure to cook and cool down before adding to Mason jar.
Second from the Bottom – Protein
Grill, roast or saute, and let cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Hard-boiled eggs
Third from Bottom – Hard-Skinned or “Tougher” Fruit or Vegetables
Peel, cut or chop as needed.
- Corn, cooked
- Red or green peppers
Fourth from Bottom – Salad Toppers
- Pomegranate seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Avocado, chopped
- Tomatoes, chopped
Top Layer – Leafy or Soft-Skinned Vegetables
- Leafy-green vegetables
- Fresh herbs
How Long Does It Last?
Depending on the ingredients, salads in Mason jars can last up to 5 days, but I usually eat mine within 3 days. To make it last closer to 5 days, I would put the dressing on the side and pat dry vegetables well before adding to the Mason jar. Experiment and see what works best for you.
5 Easy Mason Jar Salad Recipe Ideas
1. Cobb Salad
From bottom to top: Chicken, hard-boiled egg, bacon, blue cheese, cucumbers, avocado, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce.
Top with a Creamy Caesar Dressing: 4 oz. plain yogurt, 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp Coconut Aminos or Gluten-Free Tamari, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and pour on salad. Makes enough dressing for about 5 salads.
2. Asian Citrus Salad
From bottom to top: Steak or shrimp, carrots, bean sprouts, mangoes or Mandarin oranges, snow peas, avocado, peanuts, Napa cabbage, green onion, cilantro.
Top with a Sesame Scallion Dressing: 2 oz. apple juice or NingXia Red (how to order), 4 oz. rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp coconut aminos or Gluten-Free Tamari, 1 tsp raw honey, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and drizzle on salad. Makes enough dressing for about 5 salads.
3. Chicken BBQ Salad
From bottom to top: Quinoa, black beans, chicken, jicama, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, cilantro.
Top with a BBQ Dressing: 2 oz. apple cider vinegar, 4 oz. BBQ sauce, 1 tbsp
olive oil, 1/2 tsp raw honey, 1 clove garlic minced, dash chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and drizzle on salad. Makes enough dressing for about 5 salads.
4. Kale Pomegranate Salad
From bottom to top: Chicken, hearts of palm or artichoke hearts, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, kale.
Top with a Simple Vinaigrette: 4 oz. olive oil, 2 oz. NingXia Red (how to order) or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and drizzle on salad. Makes enough dressing for about 5 salads.
5. Greek Salad
From bottom to top: Chicken, red onion, red pepper, green pepper, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, parsley, Romaine lettuce.
Top with an Italian Vinaigrette: 4 oz. olive oil, 2 oz. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and drizzle on salad. Makes enough dressing for about 5 salads.
Where to Get Kitchen Pantry Essentials
I get my other baking supplies like baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, etc. either on Amazon or my local health food store usually. But then I got a Thrive membership. If you don’t already have one – it’s awesome! It’s like Whole Foods meets Costco. Organic vanilla extract, for instance, is about $5 at my local health food store and $5.30 on Amazon. But it’s only $3.95 (YES!) on Thrive Market. Great deal right? And the raw honey?! Don’t even get me started how much that costs at the health food store. But on Thrive Market it’s just $5.45 for a 10.5 oz jar of raw honey.
Sign up for a Thrive Market membership and get an extra 20% off your first 3 orders!
p.s. Looking for tips to transition to a real food or healthy gluten-free lifestyle? Check out my free Real Food Guide email course and e-book.
Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / fahrwasser