Mason jar salads? Huh? My mum was the first person to put me onto this. She started raving about this hip new trend. Which obviously got me wondering how my mum knows about something which is apparently the pinnacle of cool and I don’t. The answer would obviously be found on Pinterest I thought … and sure enough there were pins dating back to 2012! Where have I been hiding? Oh that’s right, I’ve been breeding and looking after little people.
So what the heck is a mason jar salad? Don’t worry – I didn’t miss the mason jar craze entirely. But what does one have to do with a salad? In a nutshell, it’s a layered salad. You make them ahead of time, dressing and all, and you pull them out of the fridge each day for an easy meal. (I make mine four days in advance on a Sunday and the salad is as fresh on day one as it is on Thursday, five days later.)
The more I googled the more I cursed that I had never heard about this. I have lived on a diet of toast for lunch for the last 3.5 years. Having a wholesome lunch is hard when you’re juggling a newborn, trying to cram as much as you can into sleep breaks or busy worrying about what your kids will and will not eat that you forget to look after yourself.
So I gave it a crack. I posted about it on the Hills District Mums Facebook Group. There was a lot of interest but a slight concern as to whether it was safe to eat chicken and eggs 5 days after cooking them – never fear, I lived to tell the tale. And my mum has being making these for a while now and never gotten sick. In fact I googled lots and there don’t appear to be any issues.
So how do you do it?
Buy your mason jars – I got mine using the 10% in-store discount for HDMs at Your Home Depot Castle Hill. You can get them in Woolworths but they come in 12 packs. I was keen, but not that keen! I’ve also spotted them at Coles and The Reject Shop. You are looking to get preserving jars.
Prepare your ingredients – I poached a chicken breast, boiled an egg, cooked pasta, roasted some sweet potato cubes and cut everything up.
Start layering – It’s really important to get your layers right.
First layer – dressing – if you like variety you could use a different dressing for each day.
Second layer – hard vegetables – I used carrot and celery. Other ideas include capsicum, corn and cucumber. These are the ones sitting in the dressing hence why they are first.
Third layer – pasta, rice or quinoa.
Fourth layer – soft vegetables. I used avocado, tomatoes, sweet potato and mushrooms.
Fifth layer – protein. I included poached chicken, egg, macadamia nuts and feta cheese.
Final layer – salad leaves. I used baby spinach but you could use rocket or any other type of lettuce.
Pop the lids on the jars, store them in the fridge and voila! You are done for a week. All you do is pull it out of the fridge and turn it upside down. And yes, everything was as fresh on day one as it was on day four, as the photo below shows. The avocado wasn’t even brown, although I did use a squirt of lemon over the top as a precaution.
So enjoy! It’s the best lunch I’ve eaten in a long time. And if you’re the mum of a newborn, this is the best thing that your partner can do for you in advance of their working week, so get them on the case! And for working mums who never get a chance to duck out for lunch, again this is great for you too. If you’re travelling to work with it, just keep it upright – you don’t want the salad dressing going through all the layers, it needs to stay at the bottom with the hard vegetables.
And if you want more ideas for layers just head to Pinterest where there’s SO much inspiration!
Do you make mason jar salads? What’s your favourite combo?