Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Our dog Phoebe and I enjoying sunshine and tulips on a gorgeous May afternoon.

Our dog Phoebe and I enjoying sunshine and tulips on a gorgeous May afternoon.

If you have a Pinterest account you are probably familiar with Mason Jar Salads. They are easy to make, keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and are visually appealing (I think they look like lovely edible terrarium gardens). Jarred salads are a great way to encourage yourself, and your family, to eat more fruit and vegetables and reduce waste (since you will not be throwing out unused produce). Food waste is usually a common concern that comes up when people tell me they are trying to eat healthier. So many people confess to buying fresh fruit and vegetables which become doomed to live in the bottom of the refrigerator drawer to inevitably spoil and get tossed in the garbage. If that is a problem that plagues your kitchen, I think that these salads are exactly what you need to make!

For the past few weeks I have made a number of Mason Jar Salads to enhance my lunch and dinners. Usually, I toss in the ingredients that I have on hand but this summer I hope to come up with recipes for tasty salad combinations (I have already brainstormed ten recipes, two of which I will share today).

A few weeks back I made a visual for my Produce with Amy Facebook page and for these salads I used vinegar and oil dressing, bell peppers, banana peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, radishes, red onion, kalamata and garlic stuffed green olives, pea pods, artichoke hearts, and romaine lettuce.
(Click on the photo to see a larger version)(Click on the photo to see a larger version)

While I often have Mason Jars on hand from my mom’s should-be-world-famous dill pickles, I give the jars back to her so she will give me more. Instead of going out and buying new Mason Jars, I started recycling spaghetti sauce jars and they work perfectly for the jarred salads. However, I plan to eventually purchase wide-mouthed one quart Mason jars for my salads.

jars

Recycle spaghetti sauce jars

When you prepare your salads make sure that you add the dressing first, heartier vegetables and fruit next (bell peppers, carrots, beans) and the lettuce last (the acid in the dressing will make the lettuce slimy so you have to make sure it does not touch). The salad dressing marinates the fruit and vegetables that it touches and helps marry the flavors of your salad.

Some of the frequently asked questions about the salads that I have heard are:

Q: Do you have to vacuum seal the salads?
A: No, I do not vacuum seal my salads. I simply close the lid tightly and they have kept for seven days in the refrigerator. They may even last longer but I often eat one for lunch and one for dinner so they disappear quickly.

Q: Can you put meat and cheese in the salads?
A: While I do not eat meat or cheese, I have seen Mason Jar Salad recipes that contain both. I would think that the meat would stay fresh for a few days and I would sprinkle cheese near the top of the salad.

Q: How do you eat the salads?
A: Give the jars a shake and pour on a plate or bowl or eat straight out of the jar.

Q: What is the benefit of putting the salads in a jar?
A:1. The glass helps keep the greens crisp. I read one blog post where a woman washes and stores all her greens in glass jars in the refrigerator.
2. The salads are quickly made in bulk and the slim jars are easy to store in the refrigerator.
3. I have made the jarred salads for my husband and they fit easier in his lunchbox (cooler) than a covered bowl.
4. The salads are visually beautiful and a great reminder to grab a healthy snack before or after school/work. You can also make fruit salad in the jars. Kids LOVE helping make the salads and you can use smaller jars for small children.
5. Many of my Weight Watchers members commented that if they toss together a salad for work or after a long day they use lettuce, tomato, and maybe cucumber. The jarred salads REALLY hold a lot of ingredients and are a great way to add variety and rainbow of fruit and vegetables to your menu. I find that the more layers that I add the more visually appealing the salads become.

My friend Sally Karttunen shared a great tip for the jarred salads. She said when she made her salads she used mason jars and added a large, decorative cupcake paper liner to the flat jar lid before screwing on the jar ring. This touch made the salads extra cute and attractive. Thanks for the great tip, Sally!

The two jarred salad recipes that I will share today are CLASSIC SALAD BAR IN A JAR and WALDORF INSPIRED SLAW.

Traditionally, I am a fan of vinegar and oil based Italian salad dressing. Yet, since going to plant based eating I find that I eat one or two salads a day and have worked hard to add variety into my salads. The first jar salad that I will share would be my “go to” favorite when making a salad from a buffet.

CLASSIC SALAD BAR IN A JAR

The amount of each ingredient depends on the size of your jar. Since I follow the Weight Watchers 360 plan, I eyeballed all the 0 Points Plus ingredients and measured out the other additions.

1. 2 Tablespoons of my homemade plant-based Tangy Ranch Dressing.
2. Cucumbers
3. Grape tomatoes
4. Banana peppers
5. Peas (I used 1/4 cup)
6. Carrot sticks
7. Celery sticks
8. Sunflower seeds (I used 1/4 cup)
9. Alfalfa sprouts
10. Romaine lettuce (I buy heads of romaine instead of packaged. I find the heads are more fresh, leafy, and not as bitter)

Since my cucumbers were not organic, I scrubbed well and peeled.

Since my cucumbers were not organic, I scrubbed well and peeled.

I find that cherry or grape tomatoes hold their shape better and do not get as runny in the jars as larger tomatoes.

I find that cherry or grape tomatoes hold their shape better and do not get as runny in the jars as larger tomatoes.

Banana peppers impart a lot of flavor to salads. I also LOVE them on pizza.

Banana peppers impart a lot of flavor to salads. I also LOVE them on pizza.

I am not a huge fan of peas unless they are fresh out of the garden. However, I do enjoy the texture of peas in a salad.

I am not a huge fan of peas unless they are fresh out of the garden. However, I do enjoy the texture of peas in a salad.

They always have carrot sticks on a salad bar so I thought I would leave the carrots in larger pieces.

They always have carrot sticks on a salad bar so I thought I would leave the carrots in larger pieces.

There is nothing like the satisfying crunch of celery!

There is nothing like the satisfying crunch of celery!

Sunflower seeds. Need I say more?

Sunflower seeds. Need I say more?

Sprouts are so fresh and delicious. Bean sprouts also make a wonderful addition to jarred salads.

Sprouts are so fresh and delicious. Bean sprouts also make a wonderful addition to jarred salads.

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. :) Yet, that is fine with me!

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce.🙂 Yet, that is fine with me!

Lovely layered salads.

Lovely layered salads.

Classic Salad Bar in a Jar

While the Classic Salad Bar in a Jar was delicious. I must say, that the WALDORF INSPIRED SLAW was phenomenal. In fact, one day I had one for lunch AND dinner.

I used the following ingredients:

To make the dressing:
3 Tablespoons of plant-based Mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise) but your favorite brand will do. I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of raw apple cider. Salt and pepper to taste. Many Waldorf Salad Dressings call for sugar but I did not add any since I like mine tangy. Plus, I found that the fruit that I added to salad imparted just the right amount of sweetness.

1. I added three Tablespoons of the dressing to the bottom of the jar.
2. Chopped celery
2. Green cabbage
3. Red/purple cabbage
*Note ~ The second time I made this jarred salad I tossed the cabbage in the dressing and celery first . I liked the way it marinated and thought it was more flavorful this way.
4. A few thin slices of red onion
5. Granny Smith apple slices
6. Red apple slices (your favorite variety)
(since I used organic apples I left the peels on the apples. Incidentally, I did not add any lemon juice to the apples and they stayed fresh and did not brown)
7. Two Tablespoons of raisins
8. 1/4 cup of raw almonds (most Waldorf recipes call for walnuts but I had almonds on hand)
9. Red grapes (I had to run to the store to get grapes after I made the salads. I sliced the grapes in 1/2 and added to the top).
Waldorf Inspired Slaw

I am making Waldorf Inspired Slaw in jars again this week. Yes, they are really that terrific! :)

I am making Waldorf Inspired Slaw in jars again this week. Yes, they are really that terrific!🙂

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

Update: December 8, 2013
Today I made the Waldorf Inspired Slaw but instead of grapes I added pomegranates since they are in season.
Waldorf Inspired Slaw with PomegranateI hope that my post helped answer a few questions about Mason Jar Salads and inspired garden fresh eating for you and your family. You will find more recipes under the salad tab at the top of the page. Please feel free to share some of your favorite salad jar combinations in the comment section or on my Facebook page. Here is a link to these recipes on Pinterest. I am up to 244 likes and would love to see more health minded and creative individuals join the conversation. Please recommend my blog to your friends and family.

After experimenting with Mason Jar Salads you might find yourself adding an extra row of lettuce to your garden this summer. I know that I am eagerly awaiting getting my garden in the ground. I have been told that in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the second week of June will be the time to get the tomatoes and other plants in the ground. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and productive week!

11 thoughts on “Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile

      • Pat, the Mason Jar Salads have become one of my favorite ways to plan and make sure my salads contain a variety of fruit and vegetables. Please let me know what you think when you make the salads. I’m glad my post was helpful. Enjoy!

    • Hi, Teena:
      I use quart sized Mason Jar Salads since I really like to pack in the vegetables. I do have pint-sized that I also use for fruit salads. Let me know if you have any other questions. You will LOVE them ~ such a time saver and a great way to eat healthy. Enjoy!

  1. I just made the Waldorf salads, I had to sub pumpkin seeds for the almonds as my late nite snacking hubby got into the almonds lol! They turned out great : )

  2. Pingback: Put a Lid on It: Meals for Your Busiest Semester | Arches

  3. Should use store it in individual serving size mason jars? Or if you use a larger one , once you open it and take some out and reseal the rest to put in the fridge does breaking the seal cause issues ?

    • Hi, Terri. Thank you for the great question. When I make my salads I do not seal them (as in a regular canning method) but I close the jar tightly. I make my salads in the quart jars and each one is a meal (it renders approximately 4-5 cups of fruit/vegetables). If this portion is too large you can make the salads in a pint size jar. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading and keep me posted if you try the jar salads.

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