“Salad in a jar” is an easy, healthy, and creative way to pack lunches. By layering ingredients in a container, the salad ingredients stay separated until you are ready to mix and eat. Depending on the size of the salad, a pint- or quart-size, wide-mouth canning jar will work. The best part is that you can make a week’s worth of lunches ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until you need one.
The basic idea is to start with the heaviest ingredients (which don’t absorb the dressing), work up through the lighter ingredients, and then top it with the salad greens. To pack the perfect salad, place ingredients into your jar in the order listed below. I’ve also offered some suggestions so that you can make your own combinations to keep it interesting. Ingredients marked with an ** should be added the night before you eat the salad.
- Salad Dressing: Depending on the size of the salad and your personal taste, add 1 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing.
- Hard vegetables: chopped carrots, cucumbers, peppers, cooked beets, and onions.
- Cooked beans, grains, and/or pasta: chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, cooked rice, and pasta corkscrews. If you want to add quinoa or millet, add them in Step 6, since they are more absorbent grains.
- **Protein: diced or crumbled cheese, diced (cooked) chicken, tuna fish, hard-boiled eggs, or cubed tofu.
- **Soft vegetables or fruits: avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, mandarin oranges, or dried fruits, like apricots or raisins.
- Quinoa, millet, nuts and/or seeds: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.
- Salad greens: Fill the rest of the jar, adding different varieties of your choice. Tear them into bite-sized pieces and pack tightly. Remember to leave space at the top if you are planning to add cheese, protein, and soft fruits or vegetables later.
Screw the lid tightly on the jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When you are ready to eat your salad, shake the jar to mix ingredients together and then unscrew the cap and shake it into a bowl. Once the salad is in the bowl, toss it some more with your fork to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed.
A “salad in a jar” is a novel way to pack a well-balanced healthy lunch. Everything stays separate and dressing-free until you toss all the ingredients together, so you’ll never have to sit down to a soggy salad again.