Mason jar salads are trending in work lunch ideas. They’re so easy to make that you can make enough for the whole week (as they stay fresh up to 5 days). Then you won’t have to be in a rush in the morning trying to find something for lunch on the way out the door. However, there is strategy involved when assembling these ready-to-go lunches.
The most important rule to remember is always put the dressing on the bottom. This will ensure crisp greens and avoid any unwanted sogginess. If you plan on making them for the entire week, take advantage of ingredients that will marinate in the dressing. Suggestions would be meats, cooked grains, tofu and “resilient vegetables,” such as carrots, cucumbers and grape tomatoes.
Adding protein to your salad ensures you have a filling lunch. Chicken, beans, quinoa and tofu are all great options. Don’t stop there! Completely fill your salad to the brim with as many vegetables possible. If it is really full, you may need to bring a bowl to toss the salad when it’s time to eat. Otherwise, you can eat it right out of the jar. Just give it a couple shakes to disperse the dressing.
A fun tidbit to remember is the half-and-half ratio. Try to fill half the jar with dressing, grains, toppings and proteins and fill the other half with greens.
Vegetarian Taco Mason Jar Salad (463 calories – including cilantro-lime dressing)
1/4 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup black beans
1 roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
3 cups greens
1/4 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Juice from one lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt
- Blend the ingredients for the salad dressing until smooth. Pour into the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar (wide-mouth works best).
- Layer the ingredients in the order listed above – cucumbers, black beans, tomato, corn, red pepper, greens, avocado, then cheese.
- Secure the lid, and store in the fridge for up to five days. (Tortilla chips can be added as a topping to crumble on top of your salad when ready to eat.)
Chicken, Apple and Pecan Mason Jar Salad (yields 4 servings)
2 cups chopped kale leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup grapes
For the chicken salad:
2 boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, optional
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. Add to skillet and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Allow to cool before cutting into bite-size pieces.
- In a bowl, combine chicken, Greek yogurt, red onion, celery, mayonnaise, almonds and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- To layer, divide chicken mixture, kale, cranberries, apples, pecans and grapes into four wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids.