Joy in a Jar! | Mason Jar Salads

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Here’s a sad truth.  Most days, as I am trying to crunch eight hours of work into a five hour day, a few things go to the wayside- like a semi-healthy lunch.  I have been know to go without lunch-or have cold coffee from the morning along with whatever candy or cookies I could forage from the school snack drawer or just have cereal. It’s not a pretty picture- and I’m sure borders on looking a bit cro-magnon. This is not brain food- and is most certainly not happy food.
So, I decided to bring a few of my Pinned recipes to life, and jump into the world of Mason Jar salads. To really understand how I tackled this- you need to know this about me- I loath vegetables. Since forever- I really REALLY can’t stand veggies and most definitely can not eat a a leftover salad.  With any hint of wilt- I am losing my cookies- so, I thought finding joy in a mason jar salad would elude me- like a pretty, layered, healthy unicorn…
 
Ah, but friends, I was wrong! Yummy, crisp, kind-of veggie free mason jar salads do exist- and they are in my fridge right now!
Here are some tips and tricks I have learned-
 If you are just making a salad for you- go with the pint and half jars.  ( I got mine for a great price at Target) If you are going to share the salad (sometimes I pull out a ready made masterpiece at dinner-) the go with the quart size.  Yes- all the jars you see on Pinterest are quarts- but trust me on this- it’s really a lot to eat for one.
  • Don’t make a million at once.  These guys stay crisp, bright and awesome for four days.  By day five- meh.
  •  Make two types at the same time.  Anymore will be a crazy hot mess in the kitchen.
  • Clean your counters and set aside about 20 minutes to prep- (make sure your jars are cleaned and dry before you begin.)
  • Pay attention to your layers. Many images of salad jars you see on Pinterest are not in the right order. This is not an OCD or aesthetic issue- layering the right way is what keeps your salads flavorful, crisp and fresh.
     

    The correct order to layer is this:

    • Dressing goes on the bottom
    • Crisp items you want to marinate in the dressing go next- (think: tomatoes, red onion, peppers, celery, olives, – these form a barrier to protect the other items from getting soggy. These goodies will marinate in the dressing and pick up a lot of that flavor-
    • Next- less crunchy goodies- like beans, artichoke hearts, corn, mushrooms, fruit, avocado, guacamole, sliced eggs
    • Pastas and grains go next if your using them
    • Then proteins- you need these to make the salad filling.  Think: beef, chicken, tuna, cold cut pinwheels, cheeses
    • Finally, lettuce.  I really like iceberg or the chopped bag salads that have cabbage, Kale, carrots, radishes in them.  I haven’t loved spinach salad or oft lettuces because I think they get a little mushy.  But that’s my personal taste. The lettuce always goes on top. Don’t trust any photos you may see saying otherwise.

Here’s a helpful image I found on The Two Bite Club blog

To date, I have made four different salads- and the trick is to make 2 at a time, and have everything chopped and in baggies before you start. This way, you can have an assembly line- and bag up any leftovers easily.  I cook up one pack of beef for my taco salads, and about 6 chicken tender strips for salads that have chicken.

Macho Taco Salad with Guacamole
salsa
sothwest ranch dressing
chopped cherry tomatoes
black beans- cold from the can
guacamole (topped with a splash of fresh lemon juice)
corn cold from the can
cheddar cheese
cooked taco beef- well cooled
lettuce
tortilla strips.

*the guacamole stayed bright and happy with the lemon juice.  And no- I didnt mind the meat cold- it was really yummy!)

Chef Salad
creamy blue cheese dressing
cherry tomatoes chopped
sliced hard boiled egg
ham and turkey- sliced thin rolled into a log together and cut into pinwheels
lettuce
pumpernickel croutons

* I liked the blue cheese- but may play with a vinaigrette next time

Chicken Apple and Poppy-seed Salad
poppy-seed dressing
green apples topped with a splash of fresh lemon juice
red grapes, halved
crumbled blue cheese (*goat cheese or cheddar could work too!)
chicken- grilled, cooled and sliced
craisens
lettuce
chopped pecans

Chicken Cobb Salad
Blue cheese vinaigrette
chopped cherry tomatoes
chopped celery
chicken- grilled, cooled and sliced
bacon- cooked and chopped
blue cheese crumbles
Lettuce

* I might add sliced avocado next time

Finally, keep in mind, these photo’s were taken when I used the big jars- now I am using the pint and a half jars like these:

 

If you’d like to see my Pinspiration for Jar recipes- check out my Pinboard of Jar Joy here! And- I’d love to hear if you have any good ones to share!

 

 

 

what joy will you create today?

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