Make Lunches Easy This Year With Salads in Jars!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)      OK. Let's get this out of the way. You either saw this post and thought, "That's genius! Why haven't I thought of that?" or, "Yeah, I know. That's so March of 2014…" I only say that because apparently the idea of "salad in a jar" lunches went crazy online at some point last year, but this girl (who is online A WHOLE LOT) had never heard of it until a few weeks ago. I felt a little dumb for being completely oblivious to a giant food craze, but when I started asking around, I realized there were actually a lot of other Pinterest-loving ladies that hadn't heard of it either. So, I thought I would check it out and share my thoughts with you since I wish I had heard of this a lot sooner.

The main pros to the salad in a jar thing are twofold: first, you can make all your lunches for the whole work week in one sitting (like on a Sunday), and your worries of what to eat everyday for lunch are already solved. I know this is a giant thing for me. I hate making my own lunches and I never know what to make, so I buy a lot of soups or make big batches of tuna salad and then eat that same thing for several days in a row. Second, since this isn't called "cheeseburger in a jar, " it's also a way to encourage you to eat better and make good lunch decisions. Of course, you can make a salad that's 99% percent cheese and ranch dressing and that one spinach leaf on top isn't going to help much, so make sure to pick a well-balanced salad that's still going to do you a lot of good.

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)       All that said, you can see why the concept is so appealing to a person that's lazy-yet-health-conscious like I am. I thought I would find 5 different recipes that I really liked and would be excited to eat everyday, and I think I did a pretty good job. Oh, and I also wanted salads that were filling. There's nothing worse than finishing your salad at 12:55 and feeling hungry again by 1:15, so I made sure that all the salads had either a meat or grain protein added to fill me up longer. Of course, if you do a mostly vegetarian diet like I do, you can always add more beans or grains in place of a meat option. To get a "making salad in a jar 101" lesson, this is a great post to start with. Some people suggest that you should keep more perishable items (like meat, cheese, soft vegetables (like avocado) and fruit) out of the jar and add them to the top that day instead, but I also saw that a lot of people said they didn't have a problem when they put them in at the beginning of the week.  Coating the soft fruits and veggies in a little lemon or lime juice first and packing the jar as tightly as you can helps them keep fresh all five days. Now that you've got the basics under your belt, here are the five salads that I liked the most!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    I am a big fan of Mexican food, and we make a lot of tacos and burrito bowl type dishes at our house. I can already tell this black bean and corn salad will be a pretty popular one for us, and I think next time I'll even add some rice or quinoa to the top to make it extra filling, yum!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    I love the mix of the mango, black beans, avocado, and quinoa in this salad. It's nice to have a bit of sweet in a savory salad and the mango gives it a bit of a tropical feel. I did run across a few salads like this one where they suggest making only three days' worth because of the shelf life of certain ingredients (so you would have to make that one twice that week), but hey, making lunch twice is still better than five times if you ask me!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    In the summer, I can't get enough of making Caprese salads with the tomatoes and basil we grow on the back porch. Add a little fresh basil into this tomato and mozzarella salad and you'll feel like it's summer again!

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    The only problem with this quinoa and sweet potato salad is that I can't eat all the roasted sweet potato before I put it into the jars (so good)! I also appreciate that this salad has a lot of filling ingredients that will help keep you full long after lunch is over. 

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)    Olives are one of my favorite foods on the planet (I'm the only person I know who stands by the olive tray all night at a party), so adding Kalamata olives to this greek chicken salad makes me a very happy girl. A little salty feta cheese goes a long way on this salad and the baby cucumbers add a delightful crunch to the dish.

5 easy salad in a jar lunch ideas! (click through for recipes)     Don't they look so delicious! At lunchtime, just pour the salad into a bowl and give it a stir with your forkβ€”easy! I would definitely recommend making one salad to try before you make a whole week's worth of that variety. I had a giant taste fail with one of the first salads I tried, and I was really glad I didn't already have a week's worth of them in the fridge. I'm going to challenge myself to do a month straight of salad in a jar options during the work week and see how I feel and what tweaks I'd like to add to these recipes. Do you think you'll give the salad in a jar idea a try? Or, if you've already tried it, do you have any tips or favorite recipes that you love? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I just started making Jar Salads this year and they’re the best!
    I make 4 on Sunday and then buy lunch on Friday.
    I’ve also found that adding avocado at the btm w/ a citrus dressing keeps it green all week!
    I’ve also found that taking them out of the fridge about 15min before eating time allows the oil in the dressing to loosen up.

  • I was just talking to a friend last night about packing lunches for work, giving her ideas because she wants to start cooking on Sundays, etc. So I sent her the link and she’s so happy! She’s going to the market tomorrow to get vegetables. Just wanted to let you know. πŸ˜€

  • Remember like a decade ago when Mcdonalds did salad-shakers? Their’s was in a domed plastic cup and not a cute mason jar but same idea.

  • I made a few mason jar salads last year, but they were never as as exciting as these recipes! You put a great spin on this idea (per usual) and I’m really looking forward to trying these. Thanks!

  • Oh I love these ideas! I had heard of it before but this post sure did give me some inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing <3

    Liefs,
    Yara

  • I’ve known about this idea for a long time but I’ve honestly never tried it. I usually make my salads the night before in a Tupperware, but I know mason jars keep everything extra fresh. The greek one looks like it would be my favorite!

    Thanks for sharing the recipes!

    Lauren
    http://www.spacebyLV.com

  • So easy, delicious and filling! Gonna have to get some longer forks though I think, just to reach the bottom! Ha ha, But this will be my go to for the summer when we’re out and about! x

  • Saw these jar salads on Pinterest, but wasn’t inspired to make them until this post! I happen to have a bunch of jars lying around, and I love the idea of making them ahead of time. Your pictures made me hungry!!

  • So how do you mix the ingredients without dumping the jar salad out? these seem like they are too full to just shake up. Or thats the deal, you dump this jar salad into a bowl? then have to wash and store jars as well as regular bowls?

  • This salad in a jar phenomenon is all well and fine, but what I want to know is how do you eat them??? Do you eat them as is from the top down in the jar or do you pour the contents out into a bigger bowl and mix everything together. No one ever seems to mention this??

  • These look great ~ I know what I’m going to be doing Sunday.

    Thx for the recipes. πŸ™‚

  • Great post, I’ll try this next week!

    I often do green salad with avocado, banana and feta cheese. And with a honey-mustard-lemon-dressing. Soooo good πŸ™‚

  • While this is “early 2014” I’m glad you brought it up, because how many of us Pin something to come back to and then never do? I’ve been meaning to make these for quite some time, but haven’t gotten to it. Now I think I’ll try them.
    http://absolutelytara.com

  • I saw these on Peppermint Granberg’s blog a couple yrs ago and it was a life-changer. I definitely use them more in spring and summer. Eventually I packed mine with just veggies—lots of shredded carrots and jicama and spinach, etc. I realized that was my hurdle during the week—washing and chopping. Then I can grab leftover meat from dinner or dressing to add. Also, Peppermint recommended a bleach wash of veggies and that makes a big difference.

  • I forgot about these! Yours look so delicious. Thanks for reminding me of these. Hopefully I can get around to making them in 2015! Thanks for being so inspiring.

  • I’ve heard about Mason Jar Salads a lot in the past year and I always have a desire to try them, but it seems like other people have the same question as me – how do you eat it? If you pack the jar so tightly to help keep the ingredients fresh, how do you mix it up before eating? I get that you can shake it, but that might be difficult if it’s tightly packed. (This question has actually be the sole reason I haven’t done this for lunch yet!)

    Sarah
    http://www.sweetspontaneity.com

  • I don’t do the whole jar thing, but I do prep a week’s worth of salads for my husband and I every Sunday (https://girlnamedallyn.wordpress.com/category/salad/). Each salad gets layered in its own container and then I make us each a bottle of dressing. Not as cute as the jars, but it works for us, and anything that can get people eating more vegetables is great!

  • Just pour it into a bowl and stir it around with your fork! It looks like some people serve it in the jar, but then it doesn’t get mixed up so I use a bowl πŸ™‚

    Laura

  • I love these and eat them quite often!

    My favorite salad in a jar(listed rom bottom to top)

    Dressing: lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, chopped mint
    feta cheese
    cucumbers
    radishes
    garbanzo beans
    Quinoa
    mixed greens

  • Just the other day I was talking about how I should start doing this! Thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚

  • Try adding some chia seeds (prob at the top w/ the lettuce so it doesn’t get all jelly by soaking in the dressing) to make any salad more filling! I add chia to all my salads to help stay fuller longer when salad is my main meal and not just side.

  • I have heard of this idea and just haven’t gotten around to trying it but this has given me inspiration! To the market for jars and fresh goods! Thanks πŸ™‚

  • It is so interesting when similar interests surf online doesn’t discover same things.
    I would love to try this!

  • These are also featured in the January issue of Eating Well magazine. What a coincidence that you discovered them at the same time!

  • It might be a silly question – sorry! I live in the UK and was wondering how big an average mason jar was? They seem to come in different sizes? Would love to try these!

  • Do you sterilise the jars at all, like you would if you were putting say jam or chutney into a jar? Or are they just cleaned with regular hot soapy water first?

    Love the idea! TFS πŸ™‚

  • I love this idea, but most of the ones you posted look like there are hardly any greens in them – about how much lettuce/greens are in a typical salad?

  • I love salads made with a vinegar based dressing it soaks into the veggies slightly pickling them during the week which tastes yummy!

  • hehehe.. I just bought a few mason jars two days ago and was just wondering what I can put in it πŸ˜€ this post came at the PERFECT time! πŸ˜€

  • I think i’m finally ready to give these a try, thanks Laura! Any hints on portioning/ratios on ingredients? How much spinach are we talking…?

  • You can do as much greens as you like, and there’s a lot more than it looks because the greens get all compacted and smashed in the jar. I also do more of the filling ingredients and cut up veggies because I find those keep me fuller longer than a mostly lettuce salad πŸ™‚

    Laura

  • I mostly followed the recipes I linked to and just added more or less of the things I hate/like. You can do as much greens as you like, but I do more of the filling ingredients and cut up veggies because I find those keep me fuller longer than a mostly lettuce salad πŸ™‚

    Laura

  • Love this! These all sound great. I just started working from home which is great, but I don’t feel like making a whole meal during the day. I think prepping salads would help me eat a more well-rounded meal vs. something like the can of corn I warmed up for lunch today hahaha πŸ˜‰

  • They look so fresh and pretty and delicious, but I don’t think I could eat salad for lunch everyday.

    There’s a cool variation on this salad jar phenomenon where you make a noodle soup in a jar. It’s super similar with all the fresh veggies but you just add some noodles and spices. Then, when you’re ready for lunch you poor in hot water. I think I saw this on The Londoner blog recently, but I’m sure it’s somewhere on Pinterest as well. Definitely worth checking out!

  • I love mason jar salads! I usually do a few of these a week as well as my breakfast green smoothies. That way I can be healthy with zero effort, and breakfast and lunch require no thought at all.

    I’m also in love with olives…I’ll buy a jar of green olives and snack on them sometimes. People think it’s so weird but I love their flavor and they add so much to a salad.
    Love the recipes as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Adia // http://www.loveanintrovert.com

  • Well, if you’re going by the authentic “Mason” style jars, they always come in standard sizes. I usually use a Quart size for my salads, which will hold about a liter of liquid…I think any smaller and you’re not going to get a good sized salad. If you’re looking at the smaller sizes just try to find a conversion chart to make sure you get the right size. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • FYI….- but your blog is a mess on blog lovin’ – I haven’t been getting a lot of your blog posts on my feed and you guys are very timely and when I go out to blog lovin’ AMB is always in the #1 spot and now ABM can’t be found except in chunks. You may want to check this out because I was trying to figure out why I was getting some of your posts but not others.

  • I think mason jars are pretty much the same as the Kilner jars we have in the UK, if you’ve heard of them? Kilner screw top jars come in 0.25 litre, 0.5 litre and 1 litre sizes so maybe mason jars are just the same. I think the average size is 0.5 litre but these ones look like 1 litre jars πŸ™‚

    I could be wrong as I’m from the UK too, I just thought you might find this helpful!

  • I was not aware of this craze back in March of last year so thank you for sharing! I am thinking of doing this once my second baby is born in June. Having a two year old and a newborn doesn’t leave much time for chopping a lunch everyday and this will help me to eat and eat healthy πŸ™‚

  • I have been making salad in the jar for a couple of years. I make up to 10 at a time. 2 weeks lunches. They have always turned out perfect. My lettuce is always perfect. I think the key to lettuce lasting this long (I have my extra lettuce stored in mason jars and tested how long ..3 weeks) is washing your lettuce and then putting in a salad spinner to dry. I am so excited to try these recipes. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • I haven’t heard of these before and I have the quart jars. I bought the plastic screw top lids, but I think I am going to try my seal a meal to seal the jars with the canning lids. Don’t know if it will make a difference. I sure like this idea for lunch. Being able to make them ahead is PERFECT for me! Thanks for sharing.

  • Is the benefit of the jar just that it keeps the salad fresher for longer? I’ve seen them before and i think they must be much bigger jars than we tend to get in the UK. A New York relative has been doing them for years with noodles, fish, tofu etc and always seemingly pickled in vodka. I’ve often cynically wondered why he didn’t just use tuppaware…

  • That looks so great! I definitely have to tried it. I am really crazy about sweet potatoes right now, but Caprese and Mexican salad looks good too πŸ™‚ !

    Thank you for this post, Laura πŸ™‚ It really helps. So excited for lunches now!

    Veronika

  • awesome! i bring a salad to work about three times a week, but am kinda over the same combination every time.. these sound really lovely, thanks for the inspiration!
    xo, cheyenne

  • Love these ideas! Check out the Cuppow by Bnto…it is a dressing cup that fits wide mouth mason jars. It’s also great if you want cut up veggies and hummus or celery with peanut butter!

  • IΒ΄ve seen salads in jars, like youΒ΄ve said πŸ˜‰ nothing new, but never the less I love the idea and you just reminded me that I really should try making a salad in jar!
    Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration, oh and all the different recipes πŸ™‚ they all look sooooo amazing and delicious

  • For the people who are confused about how to eat these, or don’t want to dirty both a jar and a bowl- I bet you could just make these in a normal well sealing storage container instead. The idea that the jar seals tighter and keeps the salad more fresh isn’t necessarily true. They do seal tight when you use them for actual water bath canning, but you aren’t canning the salad just screwing the top on. From what I’ve seen the jar is more for the cuteness and trendiness of the mason jar craze. That said, the actual salad combinations here look so delicious. Jar or no jar, I’ll certainly be trying some! Thank you!

  • Salads in jars aren’t passΓ©, that’s cookie mix in jars … Hehe! Great selection of recipes, feeling inspired!

  • awesome idea! I love salads and I do try to eat healthy but it’s hard to get it prepared before work. so I think I will be trying this for a week and see how it goes. love mason jars and always looking for new ways to use them! thanks for this awesome idea. xx. gigi. http://www.gigikkitchen.com

  • Are you supposed to eat straight from the jar or to put the jar’s contents on a separate plate? This is so new to me!