A big, colourful, protein-rich salad is one of the best lunch options, and packing your salad in a mason jar is the best way to get it to work fresh.
We’re showing you today how to pack a satisfying, delicious salad you can look forward to all morning, plus two recipes to try and get you inspired.
It’s commonly said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I think the most crucial time of the day to be strategic with your food is actually lunch.
After examining hundreds of food diaries over the years, I find that most people skimp on the veggies and protein at lunch time, and overdo the carbs. This is a recipe for a mid-afternoon slump that usually drives us to unhealthy choices.
The healthiest option will always be something made at home, with plenty of veggies and minimal added junk, but it’s tough to pack it up for work in a way that keeps it appetising until midday. The jar salad is the antidote to limp, uninspiring lunches and, done right, will never feel like “diet” food.
4 and a half simple steps to packing a perfect mason jar salad
- Step 1: Your salad dressing goes first, at the bottom of the jar. This prevents your salad from becoming soggy while you’re storing it.
- Step 2 (optional): Onions, if you’re having them, should go next. The dressing helps to dial down the intensity of the onion.
- Step 3: Next add your beans or lentils, or other ingredients such as carrots that won’t soak up the dressing.
- Step 4: Add your other ingredients, like any veggies (except leafy greens) and grains like quinoa or brown rice. This is where your starchy carbs like corn, sweet potato and pumpkin belong too.
- Step 5: Top with lots of leafy greens, and finally any cheese, hard-boiled egg or animal protein like tuna or chicken.
And when you’re ready to eat, simply empty your jar onto a plate for crunchy, ample, perfectly dressed salad.
You’re only limited by your imagination and what you have in your fridge, but here are two yummy salads to get you inspired.
Butternut pumpkin & chickpea salad with Asian dressing
- Step 1: Make a dressing with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon honey and1/2 red chilli finely chopped. Add to your jar.
- Step 2: Add a small can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
- Step 3: Add some chopped steamed snowpeas, halved cherry tomatoes and half a diced cucumber. Then add some roasted butternut pumpkin cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Step 4: Top with a couple of generous handfuls of leafy greens like rocket or baby spinach.
Beetroot, lentil & goats cheese salad
- Step 1: Make a dressing with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
- Step 2: Add half a red onion, finely diced.
- Step 3: Tip in a small can of lentils, rinsed and drained.
- Step 4: Add corn kernels from half a cob of cooked corn plus diced roasted beetroot.
- Step 5: Top with leafy greens or baby spinach, plus a few cubes of goats cheese.