Over the past few months, I’ve heard people talk about making salads in a jar on numerous occasions. Being the skeptic that I am, I wondered why people would do such a thing. What’s wrong with regular plastic or glass Tupperware containers? But I heard enough about these salads that I decided to give them a try, and I have to say, I was surprised by how much I like them.
Why use a mason jar?
-The narrow design of the mason jar keeps the dressing on the bottom near the firm veggies, and the softer veggies, greens, and proteins are layered closer to the top of the jar where they won’t get soggy from the dressing.
-With a glass jar, you don’t have to worry about possible harmful effects of BPAs (although it is possible to buy BPA-free plastic containers).
-Mason jar salads stay good for up to 5-6 days in the fridge so you can make them during the weekend for a whole week of lunches, which is longer than any of my Tupperware salads have lasted.
-The jars show off the rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies in your salad. I’m all in favor of making healthy food pretty and presentable because I know it’ll makes me more excited about eating it (and more excited to eat it around other people because, let’s face it– a lot of the healthy lunches we pack taste great but look less than appetizing.)
Where do you buy them?
I bought a set of a dozen wide-mouth (<- important for ease of filling) pint-size mason jars at Walmart for about $13. I’ve also seen them at Kroger, Ace Hardware, and quite a few other stores. Of course, like most things in the world, you can find them on Amazon.com, too.
What do you put in them?
There are lots of possible variations for mason jar salads and I’ll list a few at the bottom. The most important thing to remember is liquids on the BOTTOM and soft, delicate ingredients on TOP. For now, I’ll show you a step-by-step of how you can make a Greek mason jar salad.
Layer 1: Pour 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing at the bottom of of your pint jar.
Layer 2: Add beans (if using) and then your harder, least absorbent veggies. For the Greek salad, I used red onion and cucumbers. Chickpeas and slices of bell pepper would also be great here.
Layer 3: Add soft veggies if eating the salad that day. This time, I added sliced tomatoes, but if I knew I wouldn’t be eating the salad for several days, I’d wait to add tomatoes to the top layer on the day I planned to eat it. Olives would also be a great addition here if you’re into those.Step 4: Pack most of the remaining jar space with greens. Here, I used Romaine lettuce, but you could also use mixed greens, spinach, or kale.Step 5: Add proteins (meat, tofu, tempeh, etc.) and soft cheeses on top on the day you plan to eat it, and pack the jar tightly before screwing on the lid to keep the layers in place. I added feta cheese and grilled chicken to the top of my Greek salad.
Mason Jar Salads Variations I’ve Tried:
1. 1-2 tablespoons spicy dressing or salsa
2. Black or kidney beans
3. Corn, cucumbers, bell pepper
4. Cooked quinoa or other grains such as millet, optional
Day of: tomatoes, chicken or other protein, avocado/guacamole
1. 1-2 tablespoons Greek dressing
2. Chickpeas, optional protein
3. Cucumbers, red onion, bell pepper, optional olives
4. Cooked quinoa, optional
Day of: sliced tomatoes, chicken or other protein, feta cheese
Apple Walnut Cranberry
1. 1-2 tablespoons poppyseed dressing or balsamic vinaigrette
2. Dried cranberries
2. Diced apples (they will turn brown but still taste fine for several days)
3. Diced celery
4. Chopped walnuts
Day of: chicken or other protein, feta cheese
Here’s the printable version!
- Wide-mouth pint mason jars
- Salad dressing
Layer 1: Salad dressing
Layer 2: Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, or white beans
Layer 3: Harder, less absorbent vegetables: raw carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, corn, peas, broccoli florets
Layer 4: Grains: cooked barley, cooked rice, cooked quinoa
Layer 5: Nuts or seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds
Layer 6: Softer vegetables and fruits: Avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, roasted or grilled vegetables. (Wait to add avocado or berries until the day you'll eat the salad.)
Layer 7: Salad greens: Romaine, kale or spinach
Layer 8: Cheese and proteins: Feta cheese, diced chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs. If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad.
Storing the salad: Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 6 days. If you're including any cheese, proteins, or soft fruits and vegetables, add these to the top of the jar the morning you plan to eat your salad.
Tossing and eating the salad: When ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into a bowl.
Use a wide-mouth mason jar to be able to easily pack your salad.