We’re big fans of prepping healthy meals ahead of time that we can take with us when we’re on the go. Doing so helps us stick to our nutrition goals and saves us time during the week.
That’s just one reason we love these simple mason jar salads. Not only are mason jars totally hip, their vertical shape makes them especially nice for storing salads. Since the dressing is at the bottom of the jar, and the greens are at the top, nothing gets soggy! They’re also relatively inexpensive and can be purchased by the dozen at major retailers like Target, Kmart, and Amazon.
Here are few tricks to keep in mind for creating the perfect mason jar salad:
Start with the dressing
Pour the dressing in first to coat the bottom of the jar. Dressings like vinaigrette work best. Thicker dressings can stick to the jar.
Layering is the key
The secret to a perfect mason jar salad is layering. The first ingredients you add are what create a barrier between the dressing and the lettuce, so add hearty ingredients that won’t soak up the liquid such as carrots, peppers, or beans.
When to add grains
None of the salads below contain grains, but that doesn’t mean yours shouldn’t. Whole grains keep well for several days and add flavor, texture, and fiber. Good choices are quinoa, brown rice, farro, and whole-grain pasta.
What about fruit?
Fresh fruits are delicious, but you’ll want to make sure to eat them sooner than later. Soak sliced fruits like apples and pears for a few minutes in salted water before adding them to the jar to prevent browning. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found in our recipe for Apple, Fennel, and Arugula Salad.
Pack layers tightly
You want as little air as possible between layers to help your salad stay fresh longer.
Greens go at the top
Remove as much moisture as possible from washed lettuce to prevent wilting. Pack your arugula, spinach, or other greens at the top of the jar. You’ll be surprised at how much you can fit in the small space.
Keep your jars upright
When storing or transporting, keep jars upright to prevent the dressing from reaching the greens.
How to eat it
Shake up your jar and then pour everything into a bowl and serve! In a pinch, you can eat straight from the jar, but it’s hard to mix everything well when it’s tightly packed.
Follow the steps above and you’ll find you can create a mason jar salad with any of your favorite ingredients. Here are 5 to get you started:
You are always being told to “Eat the rainbow!” and here is the perfect way to do it! Each vegetable in this beautiful salad contains different phytonutrients. Carrots and yellow bell peppers are rich in beta-carotene, red peppers contain lycopene, and red cabbage has powerful antioxidants…and we just love how it tastes!
Chicken and Black Bean Burrito Salad
This salad is brimming with all of the colorful ingredients you desire in a burrito, and like a burrito, it comes in its own perfectly portable package. But, the dressing is the real star. The recipe calls for fresh lime juice, cilantro, a whole seeded jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro! Get the recipe.
Blue Cheese, Pear, and Spinach Salad
If you love blue cheese as much as we do, you’ll love this simple salad made with pears, toasted pecans, and pomegranate seeds. Can’t find pomegranate seeds? Substitute them with dried cranberries. Get the recipe.
Apple, Fennel, and Arugula Salad
This hearty salad has tons of crunch thanks to its sweet apples, fennel, and toasted pecans. Not familiar with fennel? We urge you to give it a try. Not only is it an excellent source of fiber and important phytonutrients, it has a lovely sweetness and slight licorice flavor. Get the recipe.
Chickpea Salad with Minty Yogurt Dressing
We love the combination of chickpeas, crisp bell pepper, and refreshing cucumber in this Mediterranean salad. It’s brought together with a creamy yogurt dressing with fresh mint and garlic, and feta and parsley add the finishing touches. Get the recipe.
All photos by Kirsten Morningstar