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Jar salads (or Mason jar salads, as they appear all over Pinterest), are super convenient and easy to prepare. They allow great flexibility of ingredients and easily adjust to your tastes and food preferences. They are so convenient to take to work for lunch or even for a picnic! And the combinations of ingredients are endless. In this post, I include a recipe for Spinach Jar Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette so you have a more concrete idea of they’re made. After that, it’s only a matter of following some basic steps, and you will be a jar salad expert in no time.
How to make Mason jar salads: 5 basic steps
These salads can be prepared with a wide variety of foods, from vegetables and fruits, to noodles and beans. The most important thing when you are preparing a salad in a jar is the order of the ingredients:
1. Place the dressing at the bottom of the glass container (the glass helps preserve the flavor and freshness of the food). Just 2 tablespoons of dressing is enough. It’s not recommended to add it on top of the other ingredients because then their consistency will become too soggy. When the dressing is at the bottom, it’s just a matter of pouring the salad on a plate and that’s it! If you want to eat it straight from the container, you can gently shake it to mix the dressing with the other ingredients. I love these Mason jars because the package comes with 6, which is convenient for preparing several salads at once They’re also “wide-mouth”, for easier packing of ingredients.
2. Place the sturdiest ingredients on top of the dressing. These are foods that don’t have a lot of change in consistency when immersed in liquids. Firm vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and celery are good candidates. In addition, they protect the rest of the ingredients from the above “levels” from being in contact with the dressing and losing their firmness.
3. Ingredients like beans, pasta or rice go in the next layer. These starchy foods help increase the satiety factor of these salads.
4. Now you can add protein sources like roast chicken, ham, tuna, salmon, tofu, legumes, eggs, or cheeses. Like the carbs above, these foods also contribute to the satiety of the salad, making it a more complete meal.
5. The most delicate foods go on top, like leafy greens and fruits. These are foods that can lose their consistency if they are in contact with the dressing for a long time. Some suggestions for this last layer are: spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin orange slices, watermelon, avocado, etc. Here you can also add dried fruits, nuts and seeds so that they do not lose their crunchiness.
How long do salads in a jar last?
Once prepared, jar salads last about 3-4 days in the fridge. After that time, the leaves and other ingredients begin to wilt.
Remember to always wash fresh fruits and vegetables well before using them in fresh salads. I really like veggie washes like this one that remove pesticides, dirt and other debris, and are made with non-toxic ingredients.
How do you eat salad in a Mason jar?
Gently shake the jar so that the dressing mixes with the other ingredients. Then pour the salad onto a plate and that’s it! Ready to eat!
You can eat these salads directly from the Mason jar, but this works best when the mouth of the container is wide.
Examples of healthy jar salads
To give you an idea of the different jar salads you can prepare, here are some examples of various combinations. You can play with the ingredients and customize them to your liking. Later, I include a more specific recipe, which you can also customize as well .
To make these salads, just have the ingredients already washed and chopped, and pack them in the jars in the order that the ingredients appear. Easy, right?
Apple and Celery Salad
- Raspberry vinaigrette
- Green apples and celery, chopped
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Walnuts, chopped
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Green leaves like kale, spinach or romaine lettuce
- Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Red onion, chopped
- Whole cherry tomatoes
- Black beans, rinsed and drained
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Leafy greens and chopped cilantro
Italian Pasta Salad
- Italian dressing
- Chopped tomatoes
- Black olives, whole or sliced
- Cooked bowtie pasta
- Cubed mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil, finely chopped
Spinach and Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad in a Jar Recipe
Spinach and Balsamic Vinaigrette Jar Salad Recipe
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- ½ tomato, chopped
- ½ medium cucumber, chopped leave the skin on for added fiber
- ¼ cup carrots, shredded
- ½ cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- ½ medium avocado, cubed
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Wash all the vegetables well and chop them up
- For the vinaigrette: mix well the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper
- Add the vinaigrette to the bottom of the Mason jar
- Pack the other ingredients in the jar in this order: cucumber, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, avocado
- Cover tightly and store in the fridge
- When its time to eat, gently shake the jar to combine the vinaigrette with the rest of the ingredients, open, pour onto a plate and enjoy!
So try out these salads and you’ll see that they help make your life easier when in need of a light meal. They’re also a great strategy for including more daily fruits and vegetables, foods that are key to a healthy diet. So get pumped, and then tell me in the comments section what your favorite jar salad is.
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…