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Pack It In

September 30, 2015
Warning: This lunch may induce looks of jealousy.

Brown-bagging it to save money and eat cleaner? If so, no doubt you’ve seen crisp, lively Mason jar salads all over social media.

It’s no wonder these layered lunches are a Pinterest darling; they’re an easy way to eat a balanced, healthy lunch without spending a fortune at your local salad joint (where you might still get ingredients of questionable quality).

Prepping one of these babies so that you get a satisfying meal that’s also crunchy and delicious requires some strategy. Read on to become the envy of all your workmates.

First layer: Dressing. It goes in first to keep it away from delicate ingredients.
Second layer: Firmer items. Next add your crisp vegetables, beans and/or proteins. These guys can sit on the dressing and hold their own.
Third layer: Lighter ingredients. Here go your tomatoes, grains and fruit.
Fourth layer: Greens. Bring on the lettuce and dark greens. They’re far from the dressing and placed toward the top to keep them from getting soggy or weighed down.
Fifth layer: Crunchy bits. Finish up with anything you want to keep crisp (that’s you, nuts and seeds).

Once everything is in the jar, cover it and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, simply shake it up.

Some final pointers: Make sure your jar is big enough to fit everything—a quart-sized jar should do the trick. Choose a jar with a wide mouth; you need to be able to get your fork in there (or to easily pour it out into a bowl, if that’s more your style). And don’t overstuff it, or your items won’t mix effectively.

Now that you know how to pack your jar, what should you put in it? Here are some ideas:

Greek: Red wine vinaigrette + red onion/cucumber/olives/bell pepper + chopped tomatoes/feta/chickpeas + Romaine + sunflower seeds

Taco: Chile-lime vinaigrette (or salsa) + scallions/black beans/radishes + mango/chopped tomatoes/shredded Cheddar/ chicken + shredded lettuce/chopped cilantro + a few tortilla chips

Superfoods: Lemon vinaigrette + broccoli and cauliflower/ cooked salmon + quinoa + chopped kale + hemp seeds

Or pick up this book for 50 Mason jar salad recipes.

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