Ideas for salads in jars on

Crunch-crunch: A week of (make ahead) spring salads in jars

Rainy conditions and toe-tingling cool temperatures dissuaded any notions I had of going out this past weekend. Instead I donned Danny’s hoodie for an extra layer of warmth, and flew about the place, tackling my to-do list with vigor, a cup of tea never too far from my reach.

I managed to tuck a delicate chicken and coconut curry with lentils away in the freezer, accompanied by a dozen soft chocolate ginger cookies, and a few other goodies. Danny is plenty proficient in the kitchen, but he’ll have his hands full looking after our three kiddos when I’m away; the least I can do is prep a few meals.

I even assembled a batch of salads in jars, so they are certain to get a serving of vegetables at least once a day.

Layered salad-in-a-jar is another one of my favorite strategies for warm weather batch cooking. The salad dressing can be added right in the jar and when the ingredients are packed correctly everything stays very crisp and fresh.

All you need is a quick shake, a fork and you can crunch away to your hearts’ content.

A week of Salads in Jars on #salad #jars #lunch #realfood

Practical uses for make-ahead mason jar salads

Salads-to-go have plenty of practical uses and are a healthier option that most portable foods. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy pre-made salads in a jar.

  • School lunch, office lunch – Danny can attest to this one.
  • Accompaniment for a gift of a sympathy meal – Now you can bless someone with a lasagna and a salad that can hold for a few days.
  • Picnic – Pack up the greens along with the sandwiches and the lemonade.
  • Fast at-home lunches, because moms need a healthy lunch too.

Tips for a week of salads in jars on #salad

What goes into a mason jar salad?

Pretty much anything you have on hand: a dressing, greens, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Think about what you love to heap on your plate at a salad bar and go with that. Don’t forget about beans, grains and legumes, as well as cooked chicken or ham.

Of course, I have some opinions on what works well, and what you may want to avoid, but they are just suggestions. I  avoid ingredients that emit a particular odor that gets stronger with time such as eggs, blue cheese, tinned fish, and raw onion. Now I love all of those ingredients in my salad bowl, but I try to enjoy them in a regular tossed salad, as an accompaniment to dinner, instead of packed into a jar.

I’ve also found that strawberries and diced tomatoes tend to ‘weep’ after a few days and get goopy in the bottom of the jar, so I avoid those. I suppose whole cherry tomatoes would be much better.

drying salad ingredients

Tips for the best make-ahead mason jar salads

Here’s a true story and a testament to the jarred salads. Last Friday Danny took a mason jar salad to work that I had prepared on Thursday. It contained, in order: dressing, feta, tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce. He went for lunch with friends, forgot about the salad, and came home for the weekend.

When he checked the refrigerator on Monday, he reported that the salad was still fresh and the lettuce crisp – five days after it was made, and he enjoyed it for lunch. Here are a few more tips for creating a lasting, portable salad:

  • Start with clean wide-mouth jar that is completely dry. Moisture is not the friend of a crisp salad.
  • Tear, don’t cut lettuce, as the cut edges will turn brown.
  • Always start with the vinaigrette at the bottom, and keep the greens from coming in contact with it or they will wilt.
  • Place a folded paper towel at the top of the salad, just before the lid goes on and it will absorb some of the excess moisture and keep the greens more crisp.
  • Avoid strong odors (egg, blue cheese, fish, raw onion, etc), as mentioned above. Bring them in a separate baggie if needed.

Two spring recipes for make-ahead salad-in-a-jar

a week of do-ahead mason jar salads

Spring Pea and Romaine with Feta, Cucumber, and Radishes

This time of the year, I can’t get enough of spicy radishes and sweet spring peas. I’ve combined them in this salad with just enough salty feta cheese and a handful of buttery toasted sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch.

A creamy buttermilk dressing lightly coats the greens and brings a nice tang to the salad.

salad ingredients

Spring Pea and Romaine with Feta, Cucumber, and Radish, Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
4.8 from 8 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 2 quarts
All ingredients are divided between two quart jars.
  • 3 Tablespoons Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 cup washed and sliced cucumbers (two mini)
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 3/4 cup fresh spring peas
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, torn
  1. In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  2. Crumble 2 Tablespoons of feta into each jar on top of the dressing.
  3. Add the cucumbers, radishes and peas, dividing them between two jars, and layering them.
  4. Top with sunflower seeds and lettuce, again dividing the portion between the two jars.
  5. Top with a clean dry lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

 Arugula, Blueberry and Bacon Salad with Almonds, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Peppery arugula, sweet blueberries and crispy bacon make this salad the highlight of the day – any day! Almonds add the necessary crunch and a tangy, dead easy, balsamic dressing brings everything together.

ingredients bacon-1

Arugula, Blueberry and Bacon Salad with Almonds, Balsamic Vinaigrette
4.8 from 8 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 2 quarts
Recipe requires two clean quart jars with lids.
  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • arugula or spinach
  1. In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  2. Scatter yellow bell pepper and blueberries into the jars, dividing equally between the two.
  3. Add 2 Tablespoons both bacon and toasted almonds to the jars.
  4. Pack remainder of jar with well-dried arugula or spinach and cover with a lid.
  5. Place in the refrigerator and keep for up to 5 days.

One more thing…Special Delivery!

A very dear friend (and Simple Bites contributor!) Megan of Stetted is about to welcome a sweet baby boy. I’m virtually sending a week of salads in  jars her way for those postpartum days, as I know nursing mamas crave their greens.

Also spreading a little love in this virtual baby shower are a handful of caring ladies who have also been in the kitchen for Megan. Be sure to check out their posts:

Megan, I couldn’t be happier for you as I watch you prepare for this baby. You’ve endured a kitchen remodel, and a cupcake marathon – girl, you are ready for this little one!! Best wishes to you and your sweet family as you experience motherhood all over again. It just gets better and better, let me tell you.

Three more ideas for mason jar salads:

What is your favorite salad and are you ready to make a take-out version?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. What a great idea for a new mom, and any of us, too! I love your tips. I didn’t know about the paper towel on top. Thanks :)

  2. I love salads in jars, and these are a great way for me to add new recipes to my rotation! Yum!
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar’s last post: Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

  3. This is such a fun and awesome idea for a new mom!
    Tieghan’s last post: Peanut Butter Banana Frozen Yogurt Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

  4. I really need to do this. I’d be more likely to grab a salad that is ready to go than make one from scratch.
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel’s last post: Vanilla Caramel Popcorn with Sea Salt

  5. So pretty! I didn’t realize that you could make salads ahead so far, and the jar idea is genius. (Just up Megan’s ally, too!) :)

  6. I have been wanting to try salads in a jar for a while now! They sound like loads of fun!
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking’s last post: Asparagus, Baby Artichoke, Pesto and Goat Cheese Quiche with Quinoa Crust

  7. I love this idea! I usually bring yogurt parfaits in Weck or Mason jars, but I never thought to do salads. Thanks for the tip about the paper towel on top!
    kelly @ kellybakes’s last post: {Guest Post} Lance+Jeff’s Top 5 Things to Eat in Disney World!

  8. This is just the inspiration I need, because a certain husband has been told he needs a bit more “mediterranean” diet by his doctor. These salads fit the bill, so long as I can get him to remember them in the morning! And they’re perfect for Megan as she welcomes Baby Boy Stetted. Thanks for joining us in the shower, Aimee!
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: A Surprise for Megan: Chile and Sausage Oven Frittata

  9. awesome! thanks for this……and your other many great recipes that my family has been enjoying for years :)

  10. Brilliant Aimee! I love, love, love this post.

  11. Aw, thanks for the mention, and you know I LOVE this post. Salads in jars are a favourite around here, and just yesterday I had one with mixed greens, radish, sunflower seeds, feta, and buttermilk dressing – but sadly, no peas. I love how our great minds think alike! :)

  12. ugh, I really need to kick my butt into gear and do this. it’d be so much easier to eat healthy & to eat more greens if i just prepped like this ahead of time and make it a grab-n-go situation!!
    Julie @ Table for Two’s last post: Triple Chocolate Cookies

  13. Love this! I always need new salad ideas!
    Marian (Sweetopia)’s last post: KitchenAid Oven Cookies Tutorial

  14. This is such an awesome post! Thanks for all the ideas!!!
    Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig’s last post: The Ultimate Chicken-Chicken Salad Sandwich

  15. These salads are such a perfect idea, Aimee… And, not just for having a new baby around the house. Mine isn’t exactly “new” anymore, but I think I am going to have to make a few of these salads to have around during the week. Plus, it’s such a fun idea for a picnic or any outdoor get together in the summer.
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction’s last post: Surprise Baby Shower for Megan (Creamy Chicken Enchiladas)

  16. Such a great idea!!!! Love the jar idea – grab and go!
    naomi’s last post: White Chocolate Cheesecake with Mixed Berries

  17. YES! Thank you for this. I really need to do this. Like, right now it’s 1:22pm and haven’t eaten anything am about to eat a bag of chips. Ridiculous. Will try this asap. And I love how you put all of the heavy stuff on the bottom–makes so much sense. LOVE!

  18. OOO blueberries and bacon you say?? I’m game to try that!
    stephchows’s last post: Rocking tshirt redo

  19. What a great idea! I love this. So clever. And versatile. No excuse now not to eat your greens!
    Charmian @ The Messy Baker’s last post: Muhammara – Walnut and Aleppo Pepper Dip

  20. I love this idea. I can’t wait to try it! Gotta go get some jars! My favorite salad is mixed greens w/ blueberries & lime vinaigrette.
    Melissa @ A Cozy Bee’s last post: a man’s got to drive slow with lemon tarts in the backseat

  21. Love this post! We are huge salad fans! And serving them in jars makes them so much more fun:)
    Maria’s last post: 20 Summer Salad Recipes

  22. I love how many of us are like, “this is great for our husbands!” I’ve been sending Dan to work with salads in jars these past few weeks, and he’s been loving the change!
    Casey@Good. Food. Stories.’s last post: Tasting the Terroir of Quebec

  23. This is such a brilliant idea! I love having salads for lunch, but always find myself out of time in the mornings and end up leaving without one. Must try this out!

  24. I’m a big fan of salad in a jar, but then, you knew that already.
    Shaina’s last post: Honey Whole Wheat Hummingbird Cake: Last-Minute Entertaining {Eat Well, Spend Less}

  25. Oh, I just love the idea of salads in a jar! So perfect for entertaining!
    Jenny Flake’s last post: Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta

  26. Love this! We are going through some changes in our family life right now, and will be eating more lunches at home so this is going to be ideal. I had planned on looking for some smart make ahead lunch ideas today — and now you just saved me some time! ;)
    Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead’s last post: You & your blog/business need a newsletter

  27. Love this idea, Aimee!! Thanks! :)
    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective’s last post: How to Peel and Cut a Mango

  28. This is a terrific idea! It will help our family eat healthier, having everything prepped and ready to eat. These salads will be great for having on hand for easy lunches this summer. Thank you for sharing!
    Melanie’s last post: Grocery Shopping with the Kids

  29. What an absolutely gorgeous lineup of salads! Love the way you’ve packed them for easy eating throughout the week. Thanks for sharing!
    Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste’s last post: Easy Homemade Parmesan Hamburger Buns

  30. I LOve this! I wish I had about 10 of them lined up in my fridge right now!

  31. what a brilliant idea – this way i can pack lunches in advance! thanks thanks thanks!
    dixya| food, pleasure, and health’s last post: Chatamari : Savory Pancakes {Gluten Free}

  32. Awesome idea!

  33. Aimee,
    What a great way to get your workday salad together! I find the canning jars just adorable, and the variety of the recipes sounds really tasty.
    My CSA farm share started up today, so I’ve got plenty of greens to play with.

    Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sunflower Seeds and Coconut and Sled Hockey

  34. I’ve been on a total salad kick lately and it’s kinda hard to find ones that will travel well AND last til lunch the next day when they’ve been made the night before, I will thank you in advance for this blueberry salad. I know it’s going to become a new favorite!
    natalie @ wee eats’s last post: strawberry bruschetta

  35. Love this idea! Will have to prep a bunch of these tasty combo’s this weekend and then Maybe I’ll have lunch at lunch time not 3pm when I’m ready to drop. Thanks!

  36. Wow love this idea and love this blog site. Get so excited when I find something simple, new, but inspiring! This salad in a jar idea fits the bill. I have to work tomorrow so I shall be taking a jar of salad with me :)

  37. I just love everything about this post, Aimee! I can’t wait to get making these with fresh produce from the market open next week!
    Tracy’s last post: Homemade Hamburger Buns

  38. Oh wow, I need to do this! I am always drawing a blank for lunch ideas.

  39. Good thing I have all those extra jars from my lack-of-canning this season! These will definitely help make it easier for me to remember to eat well. Thanks for helping welcome the little guy! <3
    Megan’s last post: Where to Eat in Austin During BlogHer Food

  40. I’m looking forward to trying the blueberry and bacon salad. I javen’t tried any jar salads yet but they seem so perfect for lunch at work. I would also like to try this poppy seed one: Thanks also for the tips! Can’t wait to try making my salads in a jar.
    elle @ being stepmom’s last post: how it all began

  41. These look amazing! Too bad I work from home… :(
    Theresa’s last post: Changing it up

    • Theresa, I work from home and still make these salad jars. I don’t add dressing to the bottom but cut up all my veggies after our shopping and fill nine jars with choppped veggies and greens. I LOVE having them in the fridge all set for a quick lunch or a side salad at dinner. I just add my dressing and any protein. They last a full week.

      Thanks, Aimee, for these ideas and the paper towel trick. I’ve learned that a water/vinegar bath keeps my veggies crisp longer but have a hard time getting them dry enough.
      Deirdre’s last post: Photo+Quote | July Blog Hop

  42. I walk to work everyday and try to keep my bag light. Is there anything else I can use besides a jar that would be light weight?
    Karin’s last post: Pink Paper rose bouquet with leaves and wrapped hand hold by sweetheartflowers

  43. what a wonderful idea!! so glad I have stumbled upon your blog to find such an inspiring way to make some easy, healthy lunches and side salads ahead. Thank you for sharing!
    Michelle’s last post: My New Year Begins Tomorrow

  44. Excellent idea!, I cook just for myself, so having to prepare a salad at a daily basis is tedious, and sometimes I end up trowing away not fully used ingredients (half cucumber, half tomato, half lettuce, etc). Now I can prepare salads for a full week and completely use all the ingredients.

  45. Glad makes containers that come with small cups that can hold the dressing and they snap into the lids of all gladware.

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

  47. is the salad meant to be eaten right out of the jar?

  48. I thought it was an article about spring batch !
    crunch, spring and jars … all about Java EE ^^

    Enjoy your meal !

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