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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mason Jar Salads for Busy Moms (Or Other Busy People)

Raise your hand if you just love to spend an hour each day chopping the veggies your family should be eating!  Or making that big beautiful salad for dinner while the other things are burning on the stove because you can only do so many things at once...

Solution: SALADS IN A JAR!!!  This post by Kathy has totally changed my life!  Because I sometimes have all the ingredients for a truly great salad in the fridge... but if it's not already made by dinnertime I often don't have the time to chop and arrange it before dinner's ready.  

This idea totally rocks because at dinnertime... I just pull out a jar of salad and a big bowl and toss it! BOOM.  Instant yummy salad!

I've done it two weeks in a row now and I don't really have much to add to her tips.  But I will say that the second time I did it I got smart and actually had my jars out, ready to assemble BEFORE I started chopping veggies...

Read: I didn't dirty a bunch of bowls to hold all the veggies I chopped.  I just chopped and added to the jars as I went.  Which also meant I didn't chop more veggies than I needed.  

So get your jars out and at the ready :o)  And add your dressing first.  I made a simple vinaigrette both times and it worked great.  (I might try ranch next time.)  I learned how to make my own dressing from my dear friend Sherri in NY... the concept is easy and endlessly versatile.  

Simple homemade dressing:  Mix together about a 2:1 ratio of olive oil and some sort of vinegar.  I go back and forth between balsamic and white vinegar.  Add some garlic, salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste.  The salt is really important... Sherri says that's what really makes it yummy!  So make sure to taste as you mix and add more as needed.  And as you taste you can of course add more oil or vinegar or whatever you think it needs.  It's pretty much different every time but so good!

I like to use dried herbs (oregano is yummy!) but round 2's dressing had fresh homegrown parsley and basil in it!  

So then you basically follow Kathy's concept of dressing, sturdy veggies, greens, and a "weight" for the top.  The only thing I would add is that peas are yummy but they discolor in the dressing, so save them for the top.

Also, I liked using cherry toms as a separation layer between the dressing/crunchy stuff and the greens.  During round 1's week the last two salads got a little bit soggy on the bottom layer of lettuce.  No big deal, but still.  If you keep the dressing separate your greens will stay fresh and toms are definitely an easy way to do it.

Oh and another also:  quinoa on top of salad is really interesting (and really good for you!) so if you haven't tried it you should.  But it won't be making a regular appearance in this house... a certain guy I know what a little freaked out ;o)  

But other than that he (and everyone else I served these babies to) was pretty pleased with the results!  And I was so excited that I could just reach into the fridge, shake up the jar to incorporate the dressing, and have an instant healthy salad on my plate!

If you use a quart mason jar it's enough for side dishes at dinner for 3-4 adults (small portions) and maybe to share between two people if you're just topping it with grilled chicken for a meal.  If you have small jars (like my peanut butter jars!) then it's the perfect sized lunch portion!

Mmmm salad.  And YES to easy and ready-to-go salad!  


  1. sniff . . . "dear friend Sherri" who no longer lives in NY . . . sniff!

    1. I know. But I'll always think of her house... drinking tea in Savonna :o)

  2. That is a great idea!

    Missing all of you!

    -Rachel Stickler

    1. Miss you too girl! Make sure to tell your mom thanks for the dressing lesson... I make my own dressings all the time now!

  3. How long does the salad keep? Is this a once a week thing or every few days?

    1. Once a week! I've only done it twice but I made them up the night I grocery shopped and they kept until I used them up (about a week).