My Thoughts on Mason Jar Salads

Last week I decided to test out the popular food trend Mason Jar Salads or Salad in a Jar. These have been all the rage on Pinterest and in the food blog world. They caught my attention because they looked like another great way to make my meals ahead of time. If you have been following my blog then you already know that I am a huge fan of prepping meals in advance. In fact, at this point, I am not sure if I could ever survive without it. Well maybe I could survive but knowing what I know now it certainly would not be a very healthy existence.

As I put the salads together I shared the process (along with some pictures) on the Skinny Mom’s Kitchen facebook page. Everybody seemed just excited as I was about mason jar salads. I even received some great tips from salad in a jar believers – thanks ladies! Did you ever think that foods in a jar would bring so much joy? Yeah me neither. Oh the little things.

After preparing and testing out these salads I want to share my thoughts.

Based on my experiences, the mason jar salads were really easy to prepare, made lunches super convenient during the week, and for the most part tasted great (I will explain more about this in a bit). These three reasons alone have made me a mason jar salad believer.

Making lunches is my least favorite meal to prep ahead of time – especially for myself. I always struggle with lunch ideas and usually end of eating leftovers or homemade freezer burritos (bean or chipotle turkey). These are good and do the trick but there have been many weeks I wanted to get more fresh salads on my lunchtime menu plan.

One reason I would never make salads ahead of time was I would always forget dressing or I did not want to transport dressing because of the fear it would leak everywhere (not like that has ever happened before). Also, I did not think that lettuce and other salad fixins stayed as fresh in plastic containers. Using mason jars to put salads together ahead of time alleviates all of these issues. The dressing can be added right in the jar and everything – when packed correctly – stays very crisp and fresh.

How to Put a Mason Jar Salad Together

The key to mason jar salads is in the assembly of the ingredients.

To keep the lettuce crisp you have to keep it separate from the dressing or other liquid. Also, you need to make sure the jar is completely dry before you start filling them. I add this tip because more than likely you will wash your jars or ingredients prior to using so there might be a chance of moisture. Give the jar a quick wipe with a paper towel and completely dry all ingredients before you start to assembly.

Layers should go like this.

  1. Bottom layer is dressing or other wet ingredient. Again, this is key. You need to keep the dressing away from the lettuce to keep it from getting soggy.
  2. Second layer needs to be a hearty vegetable like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. Think about veggies that would taste good marinated in dressing. You will need a good amount of these vegetables to keep the dressing and lettuce separate.
  3. Third layer is proteins or grains. This could be eggs, beans, rice, quinoa, pasta, etc. Next add the lettuce or greens.
  4. Last you would add seeds or nuts. I would also add crumbled bacon to the last layer (see my reasoning below).

For my salads the ingredients I used were 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar dressing, grape tomatoes (sliced in half), hard-boiled egg, crumbled bacon, sunflower seeds, and baby spinach. The only ingredient issue I had was the texture of the bacon. I used organic nitrate free bacon that I cooked up real crisp. However, by the second day it was very chewy and the color was a little off. The flavor was still there and it did not prevent me from eating it but it is something I noticed. I think next time I use bacon I will put at the top to see if that makes a difference. Also, next time I make these salads I will put seeds at the top as well. The texture issues were not as noticeable as the bacon but I do think they would have stayed crunchier if further away from the liquid. Basically what I learned is if you would not marinate the ingredient then keep it away from the dressing.

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I did have two technical issues with the salad. First, it was hard to keep the jar upright as I drove to work. It did not fit into my lunch bag so I just threw it into a canvas bag and brought it with me. Well it tipped over as I was driving and some of the dressing mixed with the lettuce. Not a huge deal but just something to consider. Also, even though I purchase wide mouth mason jars I found it much easier to dump it onto a plate or into a bowl to eat. This might annoy some people who wanted the mason jar to serve double duty as the container and bowl. It is not impossible to eat the salads out of the jar but personally I prefer it on a plate. Again, not a big deal, just an fyi.

Where to purchase wide mouth mason jars?

For my mason jar salads I used wide mouth quart sized glass jars made by Ball. I found a 12 pack at my local grocery store (wegmans) for $10. I was actually pleasantly surprise by the cost because I was expecting them to be much more. They were in the baking section.

My husband’s thoughts

I thought I would add this since my husband also tested out one of the mason jar salads. He thought it tasted great so flavor was not an issue. However, he did not like having a quart size jar along with a bowl to put the salad in. In his opinion, it was kind of a hassle to bring both containers to work. He suggested putting everything in a plastic container. However, that would not work because the dressing and lettuce would mostly touch. The reason mason jars work so well is they give the height to keep the two separate. Also, the ingredients stay fresher in glass jars.

Overall, I really enjoy these salads and foresee them making their way to my menu plan on a regular basis. They help tremendously with getting more vegetables into my diet. I will be playing around with different salad recipes and seeing what ones I can adapt and create to become tasty mason jar salads. As I put recipes together I will post them.

Would love to hear about your tips and experiences with mason jar salads? Let me know if you have any other questions.

Comments

  1. I’m so excited to try these!! I love packing a salad for lunch. Now it will actually taste good by the time I get to it. I LOVE your website…you’re so helpful!!

  2. I love these salads. I started off using mason jars but found tall Glad plastic jars that are wider at the top and make it much easier to eat from the container. I think they are called Lockware and the lid screws on (pretty close to same size as jars). I like using them better than my large mouth mason jars because I too was dumping it. Now I shake and eat:)

    • I have these containers too and were thinking they’d be perfect! Definitely a wide enough mouth to eat out of. Do you think they keep as well as the glass?

      • I have used these containers for an entire week and the Friday salad tasted just as good as the Monday salad. However, I only used the mason jars one week so I can’t compare the freshness difference. I enjoyed them either way:)

        • We have plastic salad shakers. They are big enough for all of the ingredients, but the dressing is held inside of the lid. When it’s time for the salad, you simply push the button on the lid, releasing the dressing. Shake, and eat!

  3. Do you think a sliced avocado would survive in a jar salad?

    • If you tossed the avocado slices with some lemon juice before adding them they’ll hold up/stay green for a couple days, but probably not a week (have added them to salads in the fridge this way before, but they never last super long). So maybe eat the salads with avocado first :-)

    • I made some salads with sliced avocados and found they turned brown within a day or so.

  4. I also made them in plastic quart jars, but packed the greens in so full that I couldn’t eat it in the jar if I wanted to. I brought along a large, rectangular glad ware type container to dump the salad in. The quart could nest upright in the container (without the lid), so it didn’t take up much more room.

  5. Not sure why you wouldn’t build a salad in a plastic container and put dressing in a sealed container and bring it with you and then add it…I mean I think it would be hard to eat out of the jar too. And, I hate the idea of carrying around glass. Ugh. But they sure do look pretty and I love the idea of separating the wet ingredients from the lettuce — that’s a valuable tip.

    • I totally agree! The idea of 2 containers versus my Rubbermaid lunch blox where I can dump all my ingredients in at the time makes me unsure. I’m excited about seeing lots of salad recipes though!!!

  6. Glad makes containers that come with small cups that can hold the dressing and they snap into the lids of all gladware. They keep the dressing with your salad, but not touching it so you don’t need the mason jar.

  7. Recently heard about these salads and did not understand how storing them in glass made them last longer. Everyone kept telling me to try it….I didn’t….then a co worker had one for lunch and I asked her about her experience with them. She showed me a piece I had not heard before. Put a hole in the mason jar lid with a tack, put a piece of electrical tape over the hole and use a ziploc vacume pump to take the air out. My current batch has been in the fridge for over 10 days and the only thing in the jar that is starting to suffer is the spinach. I have had to throw out the leftover spinach that was in a bag in the veggie drawer days ago I do think this is a great time saver and the salad fixings are lasting longer in the jars.

    • I forgot to say
      comments about eating out of the jar
      I never viewed this as an eat out of the jar idea
      I was told the idea is that when you turn the jar over and pour into a bowl your lettuce is on the bottom of the bowl with toppings and dressing on top.

  8. Try folding a half of a paper towel and place on top before putting on lid – it pulls moisture and helps keep salad crisp. You may need to change out paper towel after a couple of days.

  9. My daughter made 5 different salads for me last week ,it was great….

  10. Lindsay says:

    I can’t eat salads without some sort of meat,ie grilled chicken or tuna usually. How would that fare in the jar?

    • Meat works great. I have used shredded chicken. I put it in after veggies but before lettuce.

  11. I recently tried this and loved it. I love cheese in my salads but thought this would get a bit gunky so I made an amazing goat cheese dressing and put it in the bottom of the jar. The whole thing was so delicious! I am a huge fan of prep and think it is necessary if you wish to eat well and lose weight as well. I created an online program that teaches the importance of preparation and it is one of the main reasons people have succeeded with fat loss on it. Great post…I was researching more possible SIJ(salad in jar) recipes and found your blog. Very nice…Lisa-

  12. Bronze Venus says:

    Thanks for explaining. I eat salads everyday. I actually hate bringing all my glad plastic containers. I considered the Mason jars but purchased the tall plastic containers instead. At the time I did not know the jars were actually being used for making the salads ahead of time. I carry a lunch bag with other items so the turning over isnt an issue nor would I mind bringing my qt bowl to eat my salad.

    also someone mentioned moisture. As long as the dressing is not in the container I place a paper towel over the lettuce/spinach then snap on lid. By lunch the excess moisture is gone.

    Thanks for your ideas!!

  13. I’m not one to get excited over salads . . . .usually. After trying these, I’m pretty pumped! I wasn’t sure how this would work because I have some allergies, and can’t tolerate many different kinds of raw vegetables. I decided to use some grilled chicken (spiced up a bit), lite ranch dressing and lettuce. The combination is wonderful. I layered the dressing on bottom, followed by the cubed grilled chicken, and topped with the lettuce. Give a little shake, shake, and pour into a 4 cup Pyrex glass bowl. I’m hooked. I’ve been taking these to work with me daily. I throw the glass bowl in the refrigerator along with the salad which makes the whole experience, come eating time, nothing short of wonderful. I make them up ahead for the whole week, but can’t keep them safe in the fridge. My husband has grazing on my mason salads. To my surprise, our teenage son has even been helping himself to the stash. Such a great find! Thank you!

  14. I work from home so transporting lunch is not an issue but I love the idea of having a few jars of salad in the fridge ready to roll when I’m ready for lunch, I’m envisioning NOT tossing ugly brown lettuce into the trash week after week. (And I already have the Mason jars!) Thank you!!!

  15. Susan Steinberg says:

    okay silly question but do you use the seal that comes with the Mason jars. The box says only use the seal once but i know that is for canning

  16. How long do the salads keep? my lettuce always goes bad before i can eat it all so this could be the perfect solution! also, do you just twist the jar together or do anything else to keep it sealed tight and fresh? thank you for the ideas, i’m really excited to try this!

  17. How can you make these for just 2 people?? Looks great but too much for only 2

  18. I’m on my second week of salads in a jar. I am carrying my dressing separately this week and like it MUCH better. I brought one of my favorite vintage Texasware bowls to work and am using that to ‘dump’ the salad into. I added chick peas and some quinoa to the salads this week and am LOVING them. For me, having them all done on Sunday really helps keep me on track for the week. I’m also making the refrigerator oatmeal – am using plastic containers for those. I started organizing my life and have found that the more organized my life is, the better I feel overall. Organizing and planning my food is just a natural progression. I love your site name and I can tell, I’ll be able to learn a lot here – thanks!

  19. Was wondering if you could share the brand and model of the vacuum sealer you are using?

  20. Hi, I am going to be trying this for the first time today. I want to know if boiled eggs will last at least a few days in the jar. I want to know if I should bother to boil eggs… Thanks

  21. Hello! Thanks so much for your review as it was very helpful! I just want to say that my purpose for making the salad mason jars is to have salads at dinner, not for lunch, as it is way too much work to make a salad each and every night of the week! I’d rather have a few more carbs earlier in the day and have my already prepared salad for dinner for my husband and I to enjoy. Also, if you have the salads at dinner then you don’t have to worry about tipping them over or transporting them anywhere. This is a great solution for me as I was wearing myself out trying to make salads each night of the week! Thanks again :)

  22. I think this sounds like a neat idea. I think my kids would be more likely to eat salads for lunch if these were prepped and sitting on a shelf in the fridge. It would certainly be easier to have the mess and all the chopping over and done with once a week. Certainly a great idea for summer. My husband is not convinced this is any different from taking a salad in a plastic container with a tub of dressing sealed separately (what he’d normally do), and he says that’s too small of a salad for him. My only concern would be using chicken. Many of you mentioned using grilled chicken. But cooked chicken should be used with 3 days of preparation, so how are you safely using leftover chicken on day 7? Unless of course you are buying it pre-made with preservatives.

  23. Jessica says:

    I bought the Mason jars at my local Kroger. I had priced them on Amazon and they were twice as much, over $20! I have been eating a jar salad for lunch and a pint jar parfait (yogurt, sliced fruit, granola) for breakfast. I am loving it! They are so easy and fun to make.To take the jar to work I double bag plastic grocery bags and tie a knot above it. Set it next to purse and it stays upright. We have plates at work so pretty easy that way.

  24. I saw the issue your husband had regarding taking a mason jar and bowl to work. Many stores like Target, Walmart and BB&B sell inexpensive collapsible plastic bowls. Packing these bowls and a mason jar makes carrying lunch into work less clumsy. Plus my coworkers often compliment both my lunch and my bowl!

  25. I’ve wanted to try out mason jars for a while, but haven’t found a size I like yet. Right now I use Pyrex glass bowls with lids. They’re nice and big, and I can eat right out of them without difficulty. If I add my dressing to the bottom and enough veggies on top, my lettuce doesn’t get soggy :)

  26. do the eggs stay fresh

Trackbacks

  1. [...] more vegetables into my diet. Last week I ate a salad everyday for lunch (made easier with my salads in a jar), had veggies and hummus for snacks, and made sure I had veggies with dinner each night. Even at [...]

  2. [...] Notes Make ahead instructions Chicken can be prepared ahead of time. Also these salads can be prepped in full (dressing on the side) for lunches. Or create them into mason jar salads. [...]

  3. [...] throw in your veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc.  Tammy at Skinny Mom’s Kitchen suggests filling this space with anything that would taste good marinated in [...]

  4. [...] not thinking about “what am I going to eat for dinner” so I was not as stressed.  I prepped “salads in a jar” which was an easy fast meal to eat, make and has topped my list of favorite meals on the [...]

  5. [...] of layers. If you don’t get the appeal of something like a salad in a jar, Tammy over at Skinny Mom’s Kitchen expressed the same doubt before she realized how easy it is to make the salads. They also stay [...]

  6. [...] key to these salads is to keep the greens separate from the liquid or dressing. The Skinny Mom’s Kitchen suggests giving the jar a quick wipe with a paper towel and completely drying all ingredients [...]

  7. […] as a good way to save money and manage waste reduction by a number of blogs (back to her roots, Skinny Mom’s kitchen and the […]

  8. […] my mom discovered a blog that talked about Mason Jar Lunches and decided to give it a go and asked if I would be up for […]

  9. […] here for more “how to” mason jar salad […]

  10. […] My thoughts on mason jar salads […]

  11. […] Through trial and error, I feel I have become quite the expert on making mason jar salads so I wanted to do a follow up tutorial to the mini one I did a year ago. […]

  12. […] If you are new to the whole mason jar salad idea, let me explain.  A lot of people ask why we are making our salads in glass jars.  First of all, the glass jars keep your veggies fresher and crisper than a plastic container can.  Secondly, the glass jars will keep your salad fresh for up to five days, meaning you can make them ahead of time for the whole week.  I don’t know about you, but I hate having to make my lunch every night.  For further reading, Tammy did a great post detailing her thoughts on mason jar salads that you can read here. […]

  13. […] Skinny, sharing her thoughts and experience of using mason jars for lunch prep check it out here.       If you’ve had any experiences with meal prepping and using mason jars for portion […]

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