Salad in a Jar – Quick and Easy Lunch Idea

by on July 18, 2012

Let me present to you the solution to all your problems…

Quick and Easy Lunch Idea - Salad in a Jar

Okay so maybe these guys aren’t going to save the world. However, when it comes to eating healthy, we all know that being prepared is the key to success, and these salads in a jar will save you plenty of time when it comes to prepping a nutritious lunch (or dinner).

Quick and Easy Lunch Idea - Salad in a Jar

Basically Ball jars are the perfect reusable salad container – they are easy to transport, a cinch to clean and work great for shaking up the salad before serving. And don’t worry – so long as the dressing is at the bottom of the jar, the veggies stay nice and fresh and your lettuce doesn’t get soggy!

Quick and Easy Lunch Idea - Salad in a Jar

I actually saw the idea on Healthy. Happy. Life over the weekend and decided right away I wanted to make some for the week ahead. I had already bought a case of quart (32 oz) sized Ball jars in case we needed them for the canning adventure on Saturday, so all I needed to do was get the salad ingredients ready. Easy peasy.

As Isaac and I were chopping veggies for a vegetable/tofu curry dish on Sunday evening, I chopped up extra veggies and whipped up a basil balsamic dressing for the salads. I wanted to make sure each salad had protein so for one I used leftover quinoa and chickpeas and for the other two I used 3 oz. of baked plain tempeh.

Balsamic Salad in a Jar

The one thing to remember about salad in a jar is that your dressing goes on the bottom and you should only use things that do well “marinating” in dressing (like hearty veggies, tofu, beans, etc.) for the next layer as it’s going to be touching the dressing. The rest is pretty easy, but here’s a quick guide on how I made my salads in a jar.

  1. Start by putting 2 Tablespoons of dressing into the bottom of the jar (I used the Basil Balsamic Dressing posted below)
  2. Add items that will respond well to marinating in the dressing.
    • cucumbers
    • squash
    • mushrooms
  3. Add your remaining veggies, legumes, and greens.
    • tomatoes
    • red bell pepper
    • broccoli
    • broccoli slaw
    • avocado sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
    • chickpeas <– Salad 1 had this.
    • spring mix (lots of this – you can really pack it in)
  4. Add remaining ingredients.
    • quinoa <– Salad 1 had this.
    • baked tempeh <– Salad 2 and 3 had this.
    • pecans
    • a few dried cherries

Salad in a Jar with Basil Balsamic Dressing
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Makes 6 Tablespoons / 3 servings
Author:
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon Braggs liquid aminos (or sea salt)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a blender and blend.
  2. Continue to blend at a low speed as you add olive oil until it is completely emulsified.

So far I’ve had two of the salads this week for lunch and they’ve been excellent. I absolutely love how the veggies that have marinating in the dressing taste – super flavorful and semi-pickled!

Quick and Easy Lunch Idea - Salad in a Jar

A couple tips:

  • The quart sized jars make one big, meal sized salad. You could probably spilt it between two people if it were being served as a side salad.
  • I recommend using wide-mouth Ball jars instead of ones with the regular size mouth. It’s just easier to get the ingredients in and out of the jars when using the wide-mouth.
  • My recipe is just a guideline. Use whatever dressing, veggies, protein and toppings you like. Have fun experimenting!
  • Leave a little room at the top of the jar so that you can shake it up right before serving. It helps make sure all parts of the salad have some dressing.
  • You can totally eat the salad out of the jar, but they are a little deep for forks so I like pouring the salad into a dish.

Quick and Easy Lunch Idea - Salad in a Jar

Yum!

I only made three salads because I didn’t have enough protein for five. Now it’s Wednesday, I’m down to one salad-in-a-jar and I’m kicking myself for not making five. I guess I better make more tonight!

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz @ iheartvegetables July 18, 2012 at 8:04 am

I’ve seen something like this on pinterest but I’ve never tried it!! I’m using some Ball jars to take soup leftovers to work, haha. The salad idea is genius though! I can’t believe the lettuce doesn’t get soggy!

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Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots July 18, 2012 at 8:44 am

these look so good and easy to make! I have to get my hands on some jars!

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Julie July 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

Great idea!! I will need to try this for my work lunches. Thanks for the idea :)

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

How cute!! I love this idea!

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Casey July 18, 2012 at 9:17 am

These look super yummy and quite ingenius! No more boring lunches for me! :)

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Kristina July 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

What a great idea! I love prepping my salads ahead of time but never added the dressing to avoid soggy greens…putting the dressing at the bottom is such a totally obvious solution but somehow it never occured to me?

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Amanda July 18, 2012 at 9:42 am

Love this idea! I need to buy some jars to I can do this to take my lunches when the school year starts up again!

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Rachel July 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

love this idea! This would be so convenient for work!!

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Millie Snyder July 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

This is a great idea! I’ve seen this in magazines before but you make it sound so easy and it would be perfect for work! I’m sick of carrying around these huge containers around. I’ll have to try this method out. And I kind of like the idea of the vegetables “marinating” in the dressing! Thanks so much for sharing. Have a great day!!

(i just thought of how tasty a strawberry & spinach salad would be- perfect for the jar!)

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Sharon Stetson August 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

I would love to have the recipe for the strawberry and spinach salad. Caould you share that with us?

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Patricia Holladay August 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

I made the following salad from Allrecipes.com. It was delicious.
Strawberry Feta Salad

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
DIRECTIONS:
You have scaled this recipe’s ingredients to yield a new amount (5). The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield (10).
1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the almonds, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and set aside.
2. In a bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the toasted almonds, romaine lettuce, strawberries, and feta cheese. Cover with the dressing mixture, and toss to serve.

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Whitney @ One True North July 18, 2012 at 11:24 am

I really love this idea. I struggle with what to pack for a day at the office. I often end up eating a bunch of snacks instead of full meals when I’m working all day. I am going to look into making something like this in the future. By the way, your pictures look great!

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Alex @ Healthy Life Happy Wife July 18, 2012 at 11:28 am

I’ve been seeing these all over! Such a great idea! & that dressing sounds amazing!!

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Krissy @ Shiawase Life July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

YUM! I was waiting for this recipe, thanks!! :D

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Ali July 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I have been seeing these lately and wondering exactly how to do it. I hate when the lettuce is wilted. Thanks for sharing!!

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Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm

That is clever – Wilted lettuce is gross but this seems to solve that problem!

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Erica { EricaDHouse.com } July 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Making.Immediately.

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Anne P July 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

What a cute idea – love these!

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Eating Bird Food July 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Anne!

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Sara @ sarasmiles July 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

This is the first time I have seen this, but you should have seen my facial expression when I first started reading! What a great idea, I can’t wait to try it…my tupperware salad containers are such a drag

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Scott @ The Healthy Eating Guide July 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm

What a great idea … thanks for sharing, and I know what I’m doing for lunch tomorrow!

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Lisa @ Exercise Eat Repeat July 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

What a fab idea and they look so tasty. Will look for jars this weekend. Just wondered how long salad will last in them as they are ideal for work lunches. Thank you for sharing.

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Brenda Perkins July 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

A great idea, my husband and I have a salad with lunch and a salad with supper and occassionally as supper. I will be making these tonight! Thanks for sharing!

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Beks July 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

This is fantastic. I need to do this ASAP.

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Tiffany July 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for sharing a great idea! I can’t wait to try this when I start school this fall!

By the way I made your overnight oats recipe (oats and almond milk) and I LOVED it! I prefer this one over the one with yogurt and chia. I also made your Berry Hot flax cereal yesterday morning…it was delicious!

Hope you have a great day :)

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janet @ the taste space July 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

This was totally on my to-do list when I went through my salad craze last week but I forgot! Have no fear, there will be plenty more salads to try this out next week! ;)

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TheProDiva July 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I am officially in love with your blog! This is such a great idea. I am always trying to find ways to jazz up my salads. Not only does this give me options, but it is also a great way to transport my lunch! Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to check out the rest of your blog now!

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terry July 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

Amazing idea. I only wish I had thought of it.

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terry givens July 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

Fabulous idea. Simple, easy, and looks delicious. I only wish I had thought of it.

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Katie July 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Such an awesome idea!!!! I’m gonna make these for lunch next week!

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Donna July 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

If I made 5 will it last without welting for the week?

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janicedale July 21, 2012 at 3:20 am

I really like your idea that you put the salad onto jar . I am always looking for a different idea since I love eating salad but more on from the restaurant. I wanted to try salad on my own and when I saw your article, I was impressed and probably tomorrow, I will do this for my lunch and dinner.

_________________________
Cooking Recipes for One

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Corrie Anne July 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Yum!! I love those salads although I haven’t tried preparing them ahead of time. That’s awesome.

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joanne k July 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Thank you so much for the inspiration! The middle shelf of our fridge now has salad in a jar at all times. So quick and easy and prepared a week in advance.

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christocc August 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm

There’s no way to transport these without the dressing sogging up the salad. Instead, carry TWO jars, one with the salad, and a smaller one with the dressing!

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christina dendy March 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm

do you vacuum seal the jars? if not, how long do they keep?

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Brittany Mullins March 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Hi Christina. I didn’t vacuum seal them and they lasted about 5 days.

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Susan May 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

We have tried this using all the same ingredients, putting the tom, cukes, etc on the bottom, then the lettuce but we don’t add any dressing. We did this for a sewing group and just brought different dressings for the people to add their favorite and then top with croutons. A great idea serve with a fresh roll, garlic bread, etc.
We did not use vacuum jars, saved large jars that we had it and worked fine.

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Sandra May 14, 2013 at 10:36 am

I need to try this! Looks so good.

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Matthew Bader July 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Hi nice idea – would you get any different results if you prepared them the same way in advance in a Tupperware bowls?

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Brittany Mullins July 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hey Matthew. It might work, but not as well because if you added the dressing to the bottom of a tupperware bowl, most of the lettuce would touch it and wilt. The reason mason jars work so well is they give the height to keep the dressing separate. Also, salad ingredients stay fresher in glass jars.

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Raspberry ketones September 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Very good post! We will be linking to this great content on
our website. Keep up the great writing.

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Liz February 18, 2014 at 7:09 pm

You don’t need to use a glass canning jar. I have done this many times using the Ziploc or rubbermaid containers. The dressing spreads on the bottom and the other vegetables keep the lettuce from touching the dressing. Easy to toss all ingredients and can eat from the same container.

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