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Salads in a Jar – Healthy, money saving, make ahead lunches for at home or on the go.

Updated on July 14, 2017
Elderberry Arts profile image

I have a diploma in vegan and vegetarian nutrition and enjoy experimenting with new recipes and ingredients.

Salads in a jar are a great way to prepare healthy ready to eat lunches with very little effort. The salads can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for several days. Several days lunches could easily be prepared at the weekend saving time and work during the week. Having your lunches already premade on busy mornings can also help to avoid buying expensive and often unhealthy options while at work, school or college. Any container can be used to make these jar salads, you do not have to buy expensive specific brands or sizes. Jars can be saved from other products such as pasta sauces, just be sure to wash out the jars well.

Delicious, healthy and money saving salad in a jar.
Delicious, healthy and money saving salad in a jar. | Source

Salads can be made from a huge range of ingredients and are easily varied to suit any tastes or special dietary requirements such as vegetarianism, veganism or restrictions due to food allergies and intolerances. Typical salad ingredients such as lettuce, tomato, onions and cucumber can be used along with foods such as potato, rice, pasta, quinoa, millet, corn, peppers, noodles and couscous. If you wish to use a sauce or dressing this should be added at the bottom of the jar. Next a solid, sturdy ingredient should be placed on top so that the dressing does not leak into the other ingredients and cause them to become soggy and unpleasant. When you are ready to eat the salad it can be emptied into a bowl and the dressing combined into the mix. The salad can also be eaten directly from the jar. In this case you can mix the ingredients using cutlery or give the jar a good shake to distribute the dressing.

Making your jar salad lunches

Salads in a jar can be made ahead and kept in the fridge so that you do not have to worry about preparing lunches for yourself or your family every day. You will to make a list of what ingredients you need and in what quantity and set aside some time one evening or over the weekend. Wash all the jars in hot soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. You can choose to make a batch of salads all the same or with slight variations or if you prefer make several different types. Even if you decided to make all identical salads other ingredients can be added at serving to create variety. Bread rolls or wraps are easily transported along with your salad and can be filled when you are ready to eat. Different dressing can be used to create different flavours and can be added to the jars or carried separately.

Finished salad in a jar.
Finished salad in a jar. | Source

Chop all your ingredients and place in piles or small bowls ready for use. Chop lettuce with a plastic knife as this will prevent it from going brown along the edges. Ingredients such as pasta or rice that need to be cooked should be thoroughly cooled before adding to your jars.

Once all your ingredients are ready, add them in layers to the jars. If you are using a dressing, this should be placed into the jar first. Next add sturdy, hearty ingredients that won’t go soggy or be spoiled by sitting in the dressing. These include beans, cucumber or carrot slices, bell peppers, radish slices or chickpeas. On top of this layer all of the remaining ingredients. The last items to be added should be those that are delicate or will be adversely affected by moisture. Small containers can be used to hold dressing or very small ingredients such as seeds and placed inside the jar if preferred. Now screw on the jar lids and store your salads upright in the fridge.

The salads can be eaten directly from the jars or emptied out into a bowl or plate. If you are eating at home you could jar a base salad and then add other ingredients each day depending on what you have at home or fancy eating. The salads could also be used as accompaniments to evening meals or as side dishes at a BBQ or parties. Combinations of fruit can also be used to create fruit salads in a jar. These make great, colourful and healthy snacks or desserts for adults and children alike.

  • Mushrooms
  • Chillies
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Berries
  • Fresh herbs
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Croutons
  • Noodles
  • New potato slices
  • Zucchini
  • Cous cous
  • Kale
  • Sweetcorn
  • Slices of raw pepper
  • Cooked and cooled barley
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sweet potato cubes
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Sugar snap
  • Radishes
  • Green beans

Ideas for salad in a jar ingredients

  • Raw or lightly steamed broccoli
  • Raw or lightly steamed carrot slices or batons
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Sweetcorn
  • Lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • Spring onion
  • Tomato slices
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Chick peas
  • Cooked beans (kidney, broad, soya, cannelloni, black eyed haricot etc.)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Raisins and other dried fruits
  • Peas

Salads in a jar can be eaten straight from the jar, making them ideal for work lunches and eating on the go. Alternatively they can be poured onto plates before serving.
Salads in a jar can be eaten straight from the jar, making them ideal for work lunches and eating on the go. Alternatively they can be poured onto plates before serving. | Source

Some simple salad dressing recipes

Simple vinaigrette

2 tsp mustard
Pinch of sugar
2 tbsp of red or white wine vinegar
6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.

Season to taste and stir.

Gradually drizzle in the oil while whisking to form a thick dressing.

Garlic and herb dressing

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp of chopped chives
2 tbsp of chopped parsley
6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, garlic and herbs until mixed.

Season to taste.

Gradually drizzle in the oil while whisking to form a thick dressing.


Quick homemade Thousand Island dressing

2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp tomato sauce or ketchup
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients together well and chill before serving. Can be thinned with milk if required.

Salad do not not have to be boring or tasteless meals and have endless avriations.
Salad do not not have to be boring or tasteless meals and have endless avriations. | Source

Garlic and honey dressing

1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a lidded container and seal.

Shake well to combine and chill before serving.


Honey mustard dressing

½ cup of mustard
¼ cup of honey
¼ olive oil
½ tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a jar or similar lidded container.

Shake well to combine.

Chill before serving and shake again if needed.

© 2013 Claire

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    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      I agree and with something like salad it can feel time consuming to chop it all each time or you end up tempted to buy expensive ready prepared bags of salad. I make up 3 or 4 of these at a time reusing jars from other bought foods. Very handy for when you are short on time or don't feel like cooking.

    • juliecaroline profile image

      juliecaroline 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington USA

      Thank you, Elderberry arts. I love this idea! I can't believe I've never thought of it. I think one of the reasons people don't eat healthy food is the time factor, and this is a great way to get all your chopping and combining done in one block of time. I eat mainly raw food and this idea will be a great timesaver for me.