Greasy fast food. Snacks. Candy. Empty stomachs. What do these all have in common? They're all things that people commonly have for lunch during the week, because it beats the hassle of having to plan, make, and pack lunches before their workday.
Enter the beautiful world of mason jar salads. On Sunday you can make your week's worth of lunches all at once, in five mason jars. Then just scoop one out of the fridge on your way to work or school each day and you'll have a quick, easy, delicious, and healthy meal waiting for you.
The key to making a perfect salad on Sunday that stays perfect until Friday is simple: layering.
What I prefer to do is use two or three different dressings or vinaigrettes (homemade is both preferable and easy) throughout the week; that way I can streamline the rest of the ingredients without having five identical salads.
Your next layer should be something that can withstand liquid without becoming soggy. Grains and legumes are ideal, but large chunks of tomatoes, apples, or peas will do the trick.
Add the rest of your veggies on top of the buffer ingredient.
Unless you're one of those weird lettuce-less salad types, now's where you stuff in all the leafy greens. As the most delicate component that's prone to getting soggy, you want it far away from the dressing.
Finish your salad with protein, which goes on top, and if you want meat, wait until the night before to add it.
Now the best step: eating. There are two ways to eat a mason jar salad: shake it up to mix all the ingredients with the dressing, then eat it straight out of the jar or pour it into a bowl and toss it. As long as you eat it (and enjoy it), you can't go wrong.
I've found two keys for increasing the freshness of your salad: first, press all the ingredients down as much as you can, without bruising them, to allow for the least amount of oxygen in the jar. Second, add a piece of paper towel above the top layer of your salad; it will absorb condensation and keep your salad fresh.
And finally, if you're ever at a shortage for salad ideas, BuzzFeed has you covered.
In hearing people's ideas for mason jar salads, I've seen a lot of people bash mason jars as the receptacle of choice, calling them unnecessary and hipster. If you don't like mason jars, don't use them! But they do serve a purpose: they fit in a bag more gracefully than Tupperware, they latch securely, they're easy to shake, they're BPA-free, and yes... they look much better.
Want to serve salad at your next party? Make these amazing finger food versions and prevent any spills or mess. If your hearty greens are too tough for salads, no worries: just give them a massage. If you love lettuce but need a break from salads, try these no-salad ideas for cooking with lettuce. And make sure you know how to store and revive leafy greens so they don't go bad.