Mason Jar Salads
Imagine opening up your refrigerator and seeing ready-to-go salads all lined up just waiting to be eaten.
Follow these easy guidelines to make it happen for you:
While an official recipe to create a mason jar meal is not necessary, there is a bit of an art to building the perfect mason jar salad to avoid ending up eating a soggy mess. (Hint—it’s all about the layering.)
Mason Jar Size: Use a wide mouth jar that’s easy to fill… and easy to dig into. The pint size is perfect for an individual salad and is deceptively bigger & more filling than it looks. If packed with nutrient-dense ingredients, it should keep you full for hours. For larger salads, use the quart size.
Dressing: Wet ingredients go on the bottom. By keeping the mason jar upright, the dressing will not mix with the rest of the salad until you’re ready to eat it. Try using hummus or pesto instead of traditional salad dressing. Anything else with a marinade should stay close to the bottom as well.
Hard Vegetables: Veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery, onion, zucchini, fennel and cooked beets can be layered on top of the dressing because they are not as absorbent.
Softer Fruits & Veggies: In the middle, place the more absorbent veggies like avocado, tomatoes, berries or citrus fruits. (If using avocado, add a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning.)
Grains, Beans, Nuts, Seeds & Proteins: These nutritional powerhouses stay fresh closer to the top. The nuts and seeds seem to maintain their crunch if placed right below the top layer. (Note: beans can also go near the bottom)
Greens: Last but not least, fill the remaining part of the jar with as much leafy green goodness as you can possibly fit in. (Or bring along some extra to make sure to get your daily fill of gorgeous greens.)
Storing: Make sure to screw the lid on as tight as possible so that your salad can last up to 4 days.
Eating: When it comes time to eat your gorgeous salad, either shake it up and go for it straight from the jar, or pull out a bowl and do “the flip.” You turn the mason jar upside down into a dish and end up with the greens on the bottom and all the other ingredients on top, including the dressing. Perfect!
Use your imagination and try not get stuck in the idea of having to follow a recipe exactly.
Here are a few ideas meant to inspire:
Raid the fridge for leftovers (or intentionally make extra). Roast lots of veggies at the beginning of the week, make some extra protein and cook a batch of quinoa or brown rice. Then, when it comes time to filling all the jars, mix & match to create a variety of perfectly balanced lunches to keep things interesting all week long. (No two salads are alike, so you can kick lunchtime boredom goodbye!)
Pick a theme. Think Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian-Inspired, Italian and then build your salad with all the flavors and ingredients accordingly.
Deconstruct a salad you already make. As an example, take the Colorful Kale Salad and then layer all the ingredients instead of mixing them together.
Get ideas from other dishes. The Zucchini Pasta with Pesto & Cherry Tomatoes is a tasty option. Just layer the pesto on the bottom, and then add zucchini noodles plus lots of tomatoes. To make it more of a salad, put in other crunchy veggies (carrots, red pepper).
Enjoy your colorful & flavorful creations!