In summer 2014, I started making jars in salads. I think I first got the idea from PopSugar, which reposts the same thing every month, it seems. It has changed my life, and my lunch. I generally make them for the week on Sundays. Sometimes, if I’ve traveled over the weekend or was just too busy, I’ll make them Monday evenings for the rest of the week. I use quart size Mason jars. I usually make four, since I telework one day each week. And then I’m good to go. It’s amazing.
The general process is this:
- Dressing at the bottom. I’ll keep it simple with oil and vinegar or citrus, or get a little more fancy. I make enough for all four jars and then pour it among them.
- Beans (if using) next. For four jars, I’ll usually use one can of beans, which comes out to almost a 1/2 cup of beans per jar. If I’m not going to have other protein, or I just generally feel like I’ll need more calories, I might double that.
- Hard vegetables next – bell peppers, carrots, and/or celery.
- Softer vegetables next – mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, roasted sweet potato. If you were going to add something like rice or quinoa, I’d do it here.
- Lettuce/spinach/other greens near the top. Make sure it’s dry. This is not the most difficult part of making salad jars, but it can take the longest. If I have to wash the greens, I’ll do that first, salad-spin them, and them lay them out on paper towels for 1-2 hour until really dry. Otherwise they’ll get wilty and slimy in the jars by the end of the week. Also, I don’t use kale in salad jars. It seems like kale would be a good choice since it’s hearty and holds up better, but, in my experience, kale gets really smelly when cooped up in jars for several days, so that when I open it to eat it, my officemates come round asking what disposal got backed up.
I do all that and cap the jars and put them in the fridge.
6. Protein/fat – The night before or the morning of the day I plan to eat them, I’ll add protein or fat to the top, such as grilled chicken, tofu, or avocado.
I keep a large plastic bowl at work. When I’m ready to eat the salad, I’ll dump it all into my bowl and chow down.
I’ve made all sorts of salads, but my go-to when I’m not feeling creative includes:
- Dressing of olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper
- Black beans
- Red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and any other vegetables I want to get rid of or use. In the late summer, this included roasted zucchini.
- Grilled chicken and/or avocado
I’m happy to say I’ve inspired others. My sister sent me these pictures a few weeks ago of her taco salad and quinoa asian salad.