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Master the Mason Jar salad

Published on August 10 2021

When it comes to the perfect grab-and-go lunch, nothing beats a Mason Jar salad. It’s healthy, versatile, sustainable, and easy to whip up ahead of time.

Plus, it’s a smart way to cut down on household food waste. The beauty of Mason Jar salads is that they’re filled by layering small portions of many different ingredients (hello, leftovers!). So you know that extra portion of rice, handful of spinach and half avocado you have chilling in your fridge right now? You just add them right into the jar.

There’s just one caveat…

For your salad in a jar to stay fresh, you have to know how to layer your ingredients properlyfrom your salad dressing to your choice of toppings. If you don’t, you may end up with mushy, dressing-soaked veggies and soggy greens, increasing the likelihood of it ending up in the trash.

To avoid this rookie mistake, we created a step-by-step guide showing you exactly how to layer your ingredients for the perfect Mason Jar salad. Feel free to draw inspiration from the ingredients list below to create your own salad in a jar.

All you need is a Mason Jar (or 5 if you’re planning on meal prepping for the week) and your ingredients of choice. 

Sounds simple enough? Great, now let’s get this salad party started!

How to layer ingredients for a Mason Jar salad

Layer 1: It’s all about the dressing

Salad dressing, no matter the kind, is always the first ingredient to go into your jar. If you pour your salad dressing over top of all your other ingredients and seal the jar, some items like leafy greens, nuts, cheese and even couscous will end up going soggy.

If you don’t mind carrying and washing more dishes, you can always bring your salad dressing to work in a separate container and pour it over your salad right before you dig in. 

Here are  few quick and easy salad dressings & vinaigrettes to get you started:

Thai peanut dressing:

  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp water (or more depending on how thin you like it)

Simple balsamic dressing:

  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp black balsamic vinegar (or more if you prefer a strong balsamic taste)

Honey mustard dressing:

  • ¼ cup dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Layer 2: Bring on the crispy veggies

You’ll want to add crispy vegetables next since they will be creating the barrier between your dressing and more delicate ingredients you don’t want getting wet. 

Reach for veggies like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, celery, or cauliflower.

Layer 3: Hello, high-fibre ingredients

Black beans, lentils, chickpeas… basically any legume makes a great third layer. While you don’t want them soaking in your dressing, it won’t change their texture if they do happen to get wet.

Corn, broccoli, peas, edamame, zucchini and mushrooms also work well here.

How to layer ingredients for a Mason Jar salad

Layer 4: Bring on the carbs!

We’re always stuck with some form of leftover carbohydrates, whether it’s rice, pasta, quinoa or couscous. This is the perfect time to dump whatever extras you have sitting in your fridge.

Layer 5: It’s protein time

Leftover chicken, a few cubes of tofu, half a can of tuna… If you have any protein leftovers lying around and you don’t know how to use them up before they go bad, give them a second life by adding them to your Mason Jar salad for a more sustainable meal. 

Layer 6: A healthy dose of leafy greens

The secret to keeping your leafy greens fresh and crisp is to keep them away from the vinaigrette that’s sitting at the bottom of your jar. When delicate ingredients like spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce or arugula get wet, they tend to lose their crisp texture and grow mushy, which is why they should be added as the last layer of your mason jar salad. 

Same goes for microgreens like alfalfa sprouts and watercress, as well as fresh herbs like cilantro, dill and parsley.

Layer 7: Toppings you need to keep dry

Toppings are hands-down the best bit. They’re crunchy, salty, creamy and just give your salad added texture and flavourso it’s important to keep them dry!

We always have a handful of nuts, a tiny block of cheese, or the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips lying around. Put them to good use by sprinkling them on top of your salad. 

Here are a few other toppings that’ll take your salad to the next level:

  • Cheese (feta, cheddar, parmesan)
  • Nuts (almond, cashew, walnut)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, poppy)
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Crumbled chips

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