I don't know about you but I have a hard time with preparing lunch. I'll do anything to get out of it because I just don't see the logic in stopping whatever I may doing to prepare food in the middle of the day. It's time consuming and breaks my rhythm of whatever I was doing. I mean after all, once you get started on a good scavenger hunt with your kid who wants to stop?
And besides on the days I work I can't make a meal at my job which means I have to spend my nights the day before whipping up something. Again, who can be bothered? I have more fun things to be doing.
So when I heard of others make salads in a Mason jars to help preserve them over the course of a few days I had to investigate! This not only allows me to sneak in some vegetables, but I can also create multiple lunches at once and save time.
The nice thing about it is I can put the salad dressing and salad in the same jar and not have to jungle multiple containers when I go to work. The key is to pack things correctly and tightly so that the dressing and the lettuce never touch. See the details below.
Here's a one of my yummy concoctions. Notice the title says "Recipe #1" which means more are on the way! Enjoy!
Mason Jar Recipe #1: Southwest Chicken Salad
Large Wide Mouth Jars 8 Oz with Lid and Bands
1/3 cup of Chipolte Pepper Ranch Dressing (Buttermilk Ranch, spicy chipolte peppers, garlic, and onion)
1/4 cup of black and Spanish olives mixed together (1/4 cup total)
15 grape tomatoes (depending on the size. If they are extra large you can cut down the number)
1 can of Swanson chicken breast drained
1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
A dusting of Hormel Real Bacon Bits (enough to cover the previous layer)
2 cups of Spring Mix lettuce
1/3 of broken tortilla chips
1/4 cup of classic Sabre Guacamole dip
How to make it:
1. Pour salad dressing in first. Other, hearty ingredients will go next, keeping the lettuce as far away from the dressing as possible. You don't want it to get soggy.
2. Add the chicken. Being right on top of the dressing will allow the dressing to absorb into the chicken almost like a marinade. Just keep that in mind if you plan on eating the salad several days after you make it. The more days that go by, the more the chicken will absorb the dressing so they'll be less of it when you go to eat the salad.
3. Add olives.
4. Add tomatoes. Their hearty exterior will create a barrier preventing the dressing to run into other ingredients.
5. Add shredded cheese.
6. Add lettuce and stuff it down until it all fits.
9. Pack all ingredients down tightly and add Mason jar lid.
**As an experiment I tried adding the chips and the guacamole to the salad and including them in the Mason jar. As I suspected they were soggy when I went to eat them so simply put them on the salad and add them to your plate when you are ready to eat the salad.
I'd avoid finely shredded cheese because it's very thin. A hearty shredded cheese will create a barrier and prevent the dressing from traveling much the way the tomatoes do.
Make fresh chicken in the slow cooker. You'll be able to shred it easily and it will be very tender.
Avoid iceberg lettuce. It's wimpy and doesn't hold up well.
Make multiple Mason jarsalads and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. I've made them on a Sunday and they were still good on Wednesday. A friend said hers were good for almost a week although she had included different ingredients.
As you are adding each ingredient to your Mason jar make sure you push everything down real tight. I used a ladle but you can obviously use whatever works for you.
Using a wide mouth Mason jar makes it easier to pack.
Keep in mind that this salad hearty and is as big as a dinner plate full once you pull it out of the jar and put it on the plate. If this is too big, simply adjust the amount of lettuce you use.
For more Mason jar recipes, check out this cool book: Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go