Whether you’re at work, heading to the beach, or stuck in the car traveling all day, having a packable lunch is key if you want to stay healthy — and not hangry. Enter the mason jar salad. Layered perfectly with dressing at the bottom and fresh veggies on top, you get a flavorful meal that doesn’t end up soggy.
We love our canning jars for everything from storing grains in the pantry to shaking cocktails in the park. By far one of our most favorite ways to use our pint- and quart-sized canning jars is to pack them with salads. Yes, that’s right, leafy green salads. Dressing goes on the bottom, veggies and other salad goodies get piled on top. Everything stays separate and dressing-free until you toss the salad together in the bowl — never eat another soggy lunch salad again. Even better, these salads last for days in the fridge so we can make a week’s worth of lunches ahead of time.
How to Pack the Perfect Salad in a Jar*
Makes 1 salad
What You Need
1 to 4 tablespoons salad dressing
Mix of raw and cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, cheese, and other salad ingredients
Wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids:
pint jars for side salads, quart jars for individual meal-sized salads, 2-quart jars (or larger) for multiple servings
Large bowl, to serve
1. Salad dressing: Pour 1 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. Adjust the amount of dressing depending on the size of the salad you are making and your personal preference.
2. Hard vegetables: Next, add any hard chopped vegetables you’re including in your salad, like carrots, cucumbers, red and green peppers, cooked beets, and fennel.
3. Beans, grains, and pasta: Next, add any beans, grains, and/or pasta, like chickpeas, black beans, cooked barley, cooked rice, and pasta corkscrews.
4. Cheese and proteins (optional): If you’ll be eating the salad within the day, add a layer of diced or crumbled cheese and proteins like tuna fish, diced (cooked) chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or cubed tofu. If you’re making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you’re planning to eat the salad and add them on top of the jar.
5. Softer vegetables and fruits (optional): Next, add any soft vegetables or fruits, like avocados, tomatoes, diced strawberries, or dried apricots. If you’re making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you’re planning to eat the salad and add them to the top of the jar.
6. Nuts, seeds, and lighter grains: Next, add any nuts or seeds, like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. If you’re making a salad with lighter, more absorbent grains like quinoa or millet, add them in this layer instead of with the beans.
7. Salad greens: Last but not least, fill the rest of the jar with salad greens. Use your hands to tear them into bite-sized pieces. It’s fine to pack them into the jar fairly compactly.
8. Storing the salad: Screw the lid on the jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you’re including any cheese, proteins, or soft fruits and vegetables, add these to the top of the jar the morning you plan to eat your salad.
Tossing and eating the salad: When ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into the bowl. The action of shaking the salad into the bowl is usually enough to mix the salad with the dressing. If not, toss gently with a fork until coated.