Healthy, Make-ahead lunches–no more cheeseburger and fries, no more lunchtime blues.

I recently stumbled upon the idea of making a salad in a mason jar, when one of my co-workers in New Orleans tried it out with a spinach and chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

It was love at first bite (okay, I didn’t have any of her salad. I only looked at it, but this is a blog about food, and well…)!

Conceptually, salads-in-a-jar had a few of my favorite things: mason jars (always makes me think of home), healthy food, and best of all, no last-minute lunch decisions or tomfoolery during the week. Packing lunch in the morning couldn’t be easier. Plus, you get to spend a part of your Sunday funday chopping vegetables, which at least for me is akin to therapy.

Kale Salad on the left; zucchini salad with avocado dressing on the right.
Kale Salad on the left; zucchini salad with avocado dressing on the right.

I’ve been eating these lunches for three weeks now, and I’m not anywhere near bored. Why? Because there are 1,309,199,880 different ways to make a salad, and I’m not letting myself make any repeats (at least not yet, anyway).

Basically, you can make your favorite salad and assemble it in the jar, following a few rules.

The cardinal rules* of making a salad-in-a-jar:

1. Vinaigrette or dressing on the bottom. (For health’s sake, please stay away from cream-based nonsense; if you want something creamy, try this avocado and basil dressing.)

Vinaigrette goes first. I don't think this is a rule you'll want to break.
Vinaigrette goes first. I don’t think this is a rule you’ll want to break.

2. Beans, tomatoes, and other veggies that lend themselves to marinating/macerating go on top of the dressing.

3. Veggies that you want to stay crisp (cucumber, peppers, etc) should sit above the veggies in rule 2.

4. Lettuce or leafy greens on the top (above the rule 3 veg), separated by other veggies from the vinaigrette (keeps the lettuce crisp and fresh).

5. Take out the salad in the morning to let the vinaigrette come to room temperature. When it’s lunchtime, shake it up, pour into a bowl (or eat it straight from the jar if you’re a caveman) and enjoy!

*The thing about rules is that they’re made to be broken. Experiment and try what you like. Maybe you want your cucumbers in the dressing so they’re lightly pickled. Maybe you want the kale to touch the dressing so that it’s not too dry. Do watcha wanna.

Not sure where to get started? Here are some ideas from other sites:

Chopped Taco Jar Salad

My version of this Taco Salad!
My version of this Taco Salad!

Zucchini Salad with Avocado Dressing and Edamame

Kale Salad with roasted winter squash (Blog recommends a buttermilk dressing; I made a basic vinaigrette (omit the shallot and mustard) with red wine vinegar and a dash of maple syrup to go with the roasted veggies.)

4 Vegan Salad Ideas


To ladies who lunch,



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