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A crash course in jar salads

Jar salads

Jar salads

Savor: Jar salads by Jennifer Levisen

With two kids and a husband that coaches soccer in the fall, life is pretty busy at my house come September. My key for survival is being organized — or at least trying to be. From calendars for family and work life to meal planning, if I have at least some idea of what is expected each day I’m a happier mama. And I would much prefer to know what I’m grabbing from the fridge for lunch bags and dinnertime instead of standing in front of it scratching my head.

Jennifer Levisen

Jennifer Levisen

I like to eat a salad for lunch or dinner each day of the week (and I pretend my husband does too), but it’s expensive to pay for them at lunch every day and I never have the time to chop all the veggies and ingredients I want at night after the kids go to bed. Enter the latest love of my life: jar salads (thank you Pinterest!). We normally do our grocery shopping on the weekends, so I just spend a little extra time prepping and packing my ingredients into quart-sized jars during nap time, and voila! Healthy, fresh meals ready whenever I need them to be.

Some tips I’ve learned along the way:

• Dressing at the bottom, greens at the top and keep them as far away from each other as possible.

• The next layer should be foods that will marinade in the dressing. Great options would be cooked grains, tofu, meats, or spongy veggies, like mushrooms.

• These jar salads have lasted up to a week in my fridge and they haven’t gotten soggy or gross.

• Pack the jar tight. It’ll help keep things in place, which is nice if the jar tips over in your workbag or lunch bag. Plus you can fit more in this way!

• I like to use quart-sized jars for big entrée-sized salads. Pint-sized jars equal a side salad.

• While scouring Pinterest for different jar salad recipes I ran into this suggestion over and over: Keep the ratio of each jar about half-and-half. Half toppings, dressing, grains and proteins and half greens.

 

My cheat sheet for layers:

• First: Dressing (Try two tablespoons for a pint and four tablespoons for a quart.)

• Second: Protein

• Third: Fruit and veggies

• Fourth: Cheese

• Fifth: Greens

Ingredients used in the jars pictured are ones we usually have at home: Store-bought vinaigrette, chickpeas, shredded rotisserie chicken, onion, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, dried cranberries, shredded Parmesan cheese and mixed greens. The sky’s the limit on combinations you can use in these jars. Enjoy!

Jennifer Levisen lives and works in Albert Lea. She enjoys finding new recipes to share with her family and friends.