I love taking salads to work for lunch, but they are so time consuming to prepare at work. But, I also don’t like to throw everything together in a container because it gets soft & mushy. I found that layering the ingredients in a mason jar is perfect! Layered Quinoa Mason Jar Salad is a great example!
Then when it’s lunch time, you can just shake it up & either eat it right out of the jar, or pour it on a plate. Although you can use any ingredients you like, there is a science to this method; dressing & always heaviest (non-mushy) ingredient on the bottom.
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MEAL PRER SALAD TIPS AND TRICKS
LAYERING IS IMPORTANT
The order in which you place each ingredient in your mason jar salad is critical. Pour your dressing in first, for example, so it settles at the bottom of the jar and doesn’t turn all of the ingredients in your salad mushy!
Begin with the dressing and work your way up! For a visual on how to make a mason jar salad, see the image below these tips and tricks!
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR MASON JAR SALAD?
Choose ingredients that will keep in a meal prep container in the refrigerator. We chose spinach, quinoa, beans, and corn because they are all hearty ingredients that keep well in the fridge!
The avocado is the only ingredient in this salad that should be added right before serving.
MASON JAR INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTION
If you don’t have all of the ingredients for this mason jar salad, here are some great substitutes!
- garbanzo beans –> black beans
- corn–> carrots, chopped
- romaine lettuce–> spinach
- Quinoa vs. rice
- roasted sweet potatoes–> tomatoes
HOW TO LAYER A MASON JAR SALAD?
Properly layering the salad ingredients is critical to allowing the salads to last for days in the fridge without becoming soggy.
- Dressing – Always put this at the bottom to keep it separate from the other ingredients and keep things crisp.
- Proteins – Because this recipe is vegan, we’re using chickpeas as the protein, but you could also use chicken in this layer.
- Vegetables – Any vegetable that isn’t a leafy green.
- Quinoa is a grain.
- Leafy greens are always added last, so they are farthest away from the dressing.
HOW TO MAKE THE DRESSING FOR OUR LAYERED QUINOA MASON JAR SALAD?
The dressing is simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. The key to stretching this dressing is to add just a little bit to the jars and let the veggies soak up all of the dressing.
We’re making a dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, honey, a hint of Dijon, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. They’re just pantry staples, but when combined, they’re the perfect blend of lemon and herb, with a hint of sweetness at the end. They complement the robust sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in our salad jars.
Alternative Video Recipe: Mason Jar Quinoa Salad
HOW DO YOU KEEP THE INGREDIENTS FRESH?
When meal prepping salad jars, the key to keeping everything fresh is to put the ingredients that won’t get soggy in the dressing itself. I started with the artichoke hearts because they will improve as they soak up the dressing.
I then add sliced roasted red bell peppers, chickpeas, cucumbers, quinoa, marinated olives, chopped onions, feta cheese, herbs, and lettuce or spinach. Remember that if you add the salad greens to the salad jars, you’ll end up with more jars because, believe it or not, the greens take up a lot of space!
And, while I found prefilled jars with lettuce (spinach) to be filling, my husband prefers his jars with baby spinach in a zip top baggy on the side.
When you leave these jars in the refrigerator for a while, they almost form a self-seal. Because the suction on these was so strong, I had to use the clips! And what about the chopped basil? My quinoa salad jars are still as fresh as the day I packed them.
- Replace the ingredients with ones you already have or like! If you don’t want to use quinoa, you can replace it with cooked pasta, brown rice, pearl couscous, regular couscous, or even farro.
- You can also swap the beans! If you prefer white beans, you can substitute them.
- Don’t like one of the ingredients? You are free to omit it.
- These jars will keep in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days; we pushed ours to day six just to see how they held up, and while most of the ingredients were fine, the cucumbers and onions did start to lose their freshness a little!
And there you have it. These colorful, flavorful meal prep salad jars are packed with filling ingredients. They were even better than the fresh salads he usually orders at work, according to the husband.
That’s like music to my ears!Print
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can these salads last for meal prep?
In the mason jars, the salads keep for 4-5 days in the fridge. By the 5th day, the veggies may lose some of their crispness, but will still taste great and be perfectly fine to eat. I typically make 4 salads on a Sunday to eat for lunch Monday-Thursday.
What about ingredient substitutions?
You can omit any ingredient you like! Go ahead and add more of something or add a different veggie, protein, or grain. As long as you follow the layering ‘rules’ stated above, it will still be great.
What size of mason jar?
I wrote this recipe using the large quart (32oz) sized mason jars. They are big and make large very filling salads. You could use pint (16oz) sized jars and make 8 salads instead of 4. This is good option if you want the salads to be the side, instead of the main course.
Where can I buy mason jars?
You can find mason jars at many stores! Most grocery stores will carry them, at a store like Target or Walmart, even hardware stores. Or of course you can find them online!