The best way to keep your meal prep salads fresh? The layered mason jar strategy works best! I’ve got a few ideas for you – including vegetarian mason jar salads and mason jar salads with chicken! Here are 10 Simple Mason Jar Salads to Meal Prep for Lunch!
I meal prep a lot. I cook a lot. Salad is not foreign to me. And I use mason jars ALL the time. But one thing I’ve never done? Make a mason jar salad. Yep. You read that right. It’s 2019 and I’ve never put a salad into a mason jar. I get how they work, I understand layering. It’s just something I haven’t tried yet (way too preoccupied with my Instant Pot and air fryer). But that’s about to change!
To aide in my task, I’m looking to the experts for some ideas before I deep dive into mason jar salads this summer! Mason jar salads were MADE for meal prep (don’t fact check me but I think this is 100% true). Whether you’re picnicing at the park or on the daily work grind, they just make lunch easy. For meal prep, it doesn’t get easier than being able to stuff everything for a meal into one container.
Salad in a Jar 101
How it works – Find a few pint sized mason jars, layer your ingredients starting with the dressing first, and stuff the greens in the top! When you’re a go for salad time, grab your pint sized salad party and dump it out in your bowl. Greens will go down first, followed by all the layers, and then your dressing will basically be on top of everything. Mix it up a little more, and you’re all set. Not the prettiest lunch scene, but oh so easy.
Layering – You always want to start with the dressing on the bottom of the jar. This way, it won’t get the rest of your salad mushy, particularly the greens. On top of, or more accurately, sitting it your dressing for the next layer are your hearty veggies that can hold up to marinating in some dressing and don’t get wilty. I’m talking tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, onions, etc. Next up, throw in your meats or protein (chickpeas, chicken, lentils, etc). After that, add your other toppings except the greens. This could be hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts, rice, quinoa, whatev. Top it off with your leafy greens – romaine, arugula, spinach, your choice!
What jars to use – Most mason jar salad recipes use 16 ounce pint jars. Pint size regular mouth mason jars can be found on Amazon, as well as local grocery store or Target. You can also find pint sized wide mouth mason jars at some grocery stores – I found these cheaper in a store than I did online. Any jars with airtight lids should work just fine. Here’s a handy guide from Ball which shows the mason jar sizing options.
How do you keep the salad from getting soggy?
The best way to keep your salad from getting soggy is to keep your dressing on the bottom and separate from any salad greens. That’s why mason jars are so perfect for store salads. The shape makes for easy layering, there’s an airtight lid, and as long as it stays upright in your bag, the dressing won’t touch the salad.
How long do mason jar salads last?
- Vegetarian mason jar salads: As long as you use fresh ingredients, vegetarian mason jar salads should last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- Mason jar salads with chicken or other meat: I would recommend prepping this kind of salad only up to 4 days in advance maximum, though it’s a personal choice. Some recipes indicate up to 3 days is best. Usually this depends on the ingredients, but it’s mostly up to your preference. I prefer to eat cooked chicken within 4 days.
- Not sure if I have to say this but I will: This is not a freezer meal!
Now that we’ve set some mason jar salad ground rules, let’s get our creativity flowing and find some inspiration with these 10 Simple Mason Jar Salads!