Well guys, my summer vacation ends on Wednesday and I’m not very happy about it. One thing is for sure, though, I’m prepped and ready to go… at least in the food department! I’ve got a different salad in a jar for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Easy, peasy, grab-n-go and these jar salads will stay fresh for about 7 days; so feel free to make them for the whole week. It’s also great to have a them in the fridge for quick dinners on busy evenings.
Eating a huge veggie-filled salad at least once a day is a great way to stay healthy and get your recommended vegetable servings for the day. Many of us don’t have the time or motivation to spend extra time every night or morning cutting up veggies for your work-lunch, the next day. I’m going to share with you some simple salad-making steps to have a fresh tasting salad, Monday through Friday, with only about 20 minutes prep on Sunday.
This is just a guide, feel free to let those creative juices flow and use your favorite ingredients. Even though you’re making multiple salads at one time, you can still change up the ingredients; with different dressings, proteins and/or grains for each one.
- Types of Containers
A plastic container with a lid is probably the most popular type of container. These fit in most lunch boxes and they are easy to lug around, without the breakage concern. Make sure it is BPA-free, though.
If you’re concerned with eating out of plastic containers, glass Mason-type jars work really great, too. You’ll just want to make sure that you have a way to transport the jar, keeping it upright. In my experience, using glass jars keep salads fresher longer.
- Packing the Salad in a Mason Jar (use a quart-sized jar with a wide mouth opening)
1. Start with the dressing, vinaigrette or olive oil. I use 1-2 tablespoons, depending on the dressing. If it’s oil-based, 1 tablespoon usually does the job. You’ll be keeping your jar upright and this will keep the dressing from touching the veggies and making them soggy.
2. Next up, add your harder veggies and/beans; like carrots, radishes, onions and chickpeas. Then layer your other veggies; like zucchini, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper and cucumber.
3. Time for the greens. This should take up about 1/2 of your jar. Make sure your greens are dry. Try using several different types of greens to keep things interesting. I like mixing romaine, kale and spinach.
4. Pack the protein, now. Top the greens with your choice of protein; like grilled or ground chicken, sauteed tofu, cubed or shredded cheese, shredded tuna, diced boiled egg, quinoa and/or brown rice. The salad in the picture above includes; a lemon vinaigrette I will be sharing on Thursday, carrots, celery, white beans, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, romaine, grilled chicken and craisins.
5. Healthy fats are important. Don’t skip the yummy healthy fats, that will help your body absorb all of the vitamins and minerals from the veggies. These will keep you satisfied throughout the day, too! Add some nuts, seeds, hummus and/or avocado to your jar. If you’re using avocado, give it a squirt of lemon or lime juice and this should keep it from browning.
6. Shake things up! When you’re ready to eat, just get to shakin’. Or if you prefer, your Mason jar salad can be poured into another container; like a big bowl. I pack things pretty tight with tons of veggies in my jar, but when I shake it up, the dressing is still able to coat all of the veggies. I used two tablespoons of my Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing, in the picture that you see below.
- Packing a (BPA-free) Plastic Container (flat rectangular containers work best)
1. Start with about 2-3 cups of clean, dry greens. Again, get creative and mix things up, but stay away from the iceberg lettuce. It’s lacking in nutritional value, unlike romaine, chard, kale and spinach.
2. Add the veggies, beans, and fruit. Go for carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes (use cherry and keep them whole), peppers, broccoli, chickpeas, kidney beans, corn, peas, or even fruit like grapes or blueberries. Dry each ingredient with a paper towel to keep them crisper longer.
3. Protein comes next. For protein sources like marinated tofu, grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, certain types of cheese like cubed cheddar, and cooked (and cooled) whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, add these on top of the first three salads only (Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s). Then on Wednesday night, add protein to Thursday’s and Friday’s containers. Do the same with avocado, nuts and seeds, or very wet fruits like sliced strawberries.
4. Keep dressing separate until the moment you eat your salad. Purchase a couple dip-sized containers or if you have an office fridge, keep a bottle of dressing there.
- Shopping for Ingredients
Here’s a shopping list example, for buying ingredients for salads for a week. Remember to make your salad your own. Buy and add your favorite ingredients and be sure to vary things, so that you don’t get bored.
- large container of greens
- cucumber and/or zucchini
- bell peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- grapes and blueberries
- grilled chicken
- chickpeas, black beans and red kidney beans
- quinoa and brown rice
- sunflower seeds and walnut halves
- bottle of your favorite salad dressing
Something to think about….
Do you typically food prep on one day for the rest of the week?
Do you normally bring your lunch to work or pick something up?
Have you ever tried making a Mason jar salad?
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