Mason jar salads are the portable, practical, and healthy solution to your sad desk lunch problem. 

By Betty Gold and Grace Elkus
Updated August 09, 2019
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Here at Real Simple, we're all about meal prep. Spend a little time in the kitchen on Sunday and you save yourself from endless hours of culinary elbow grease during the already-exhausting work week. Lunches, dinners, and snacks are already made, so you have more time with your family (or your Netflix account) when you really need it.

Exhibit A: mason jar salads.

Salads make an excellent weekday lunch. With the right combination of grains, protein, and leafy greens, they’ll fill you up without weighing you down, and give you the energy you need to power through the afternoon. Packing the salad, however, is where it can get tricky. Dress the salad too early, and it becomes soggy by the time lunch rolls around—and storing the dressing in an extra container makes for clunky transportation (and the possibility of leakage).

Meal prep fans, try packing your salad vertically in a wide-mouth mason jar—we guarantee it will revolutionize your routine.

The dressing goes at the bottom of the jar and the greens sit at the top, ensuring they don’t touch until you’re ready to dig in (eliminating the possibility of soggy greens). Crunchy veggies, such as carrots, cucumbers, and bell pepper, are added to the jar on top of the vinaigrette, which allows them to marinate and soak in extra flavor. Next, you’ll pile on beans, grains, and protein, followed by the greens and toppings of your choosing. When you’re ready to enjoy, pour the salad into a bowl, then mix it up until the components are well distributed. You’ll find that the salad tastes fresh and full of flavor, and that all the ingredients have retained their crispness and texture. The layering technique also means you can make multiple salads ahead of time—so you can prepare your jars on the weekend to save you time during the week. Using the guide below as an outline. Now you’re ready to transform your favorite salad into a mason jar lunch.

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Illustration by Sarah Ferone