Want to know why mason jar salads are my latest obsession? It’s simple: Until I started making them, I never ate a real lunch. Does this happen to you too? With so many food restrictions – read, mostly paleo plus no eggs – usual lunchtime fare is off the menu. Before I know it, I’ve satiated my afternoon hunger pains with one snacky food after another. Maybe dried fruit, a paleo meat bar, and always dark chocolate.
Even though I usually meal plan to eat leftovers for lunch the next day, it’s not quite the same as opening the fridge and grabbing a neatly assembled in a mason jar salad packed exclusively for my midday meal.
Finally, I’m eating a real lunch again. And it’s delicious. Here are some of my current favorite salads to stuff in a mason jar. Note: there’s a science to the stuffing. Read about a properly constructed mason jar salad here.
Turkey Club Chopped Salad With Aioli Vinaigrette
If I know I’ve got a big day ahead of me – maybe something that’s going to require a lot of mental energy or some time at the gym – I make a protein heavy salad. In this recipe, Beth at Tasty Yummies uses roasted turkey breast from the deli counter. She just has them slice it to her desired thickness. Genius, right?
Both the turkey and the bacon store well. Because avocado and tomato are soft fruit, they are easily damaged by the weight of everything else. So layer these towards the top, with chopped tomatoes under the avocado.
Bistro Chicken Salad With Garlic-Thyme Vinaigrette
The chicken and bacon love is real. Here’s another favorite with chicken breast cooked in rendered bacon fat. Make sure to let your proteins cool completely before packing them in a jar. And while the shredded carrots and avocado are optional, they make the dish – so be sure to include them.
To keep my avocado fresh, I always dress it in lemon or lime juice after slicing it and before layering it in the mason jar.
Spring Greens Salad With Roasted Beets, Walnuts, And Creamy Feta Vinaigrette
With a feta vinaigrette, this salad is more primal than it is paleo. Still, the paleo diet is a template. If sheep’s milk feta works for you, go for it. If not, dress your roasted beets with this dairy free ranch dressing. With a pile of greens, delicious roasted beets, and toasted walnuts – this mason jar salad pulls together easily and stores well.
Be sure to toast your walnuts before adding them, it makes a difference. Five to ten minutes at 350F will do you right.
Dill Chicken Summer Salad
Sometimes I’m in the mood for crudités – you know, big hunks of veggies that I can coat in some sort of delicious dressing and when I bite into them, there’s plenty of crunch.
This dill chicken salad fits the bill. And with plenty of hard veggies that aren’t prone to wilting, it packs well. Feel free to switch up your greens if the mood strikes – for example, baby kale or spinach.
Spicy Kale & Blood Orange Salad
There’s something about this salad that’s downright lovable. And did you notice there’s no bacon (or any animal protein, for that matter). Even without bacon or crunchy bits of chicken, I’m still swooning.
Every bit of this spicy kale packs and stores well in a mason jar. Starting from the bottom to the top, layering looks something like this: Dressing, sweet peppers and jalapeños, kale, blood orange segments, and toasted almond slices.
Crispy Gingered Chicken Salad
Have you tried coating your chicken in cassava yet? With or without salad, it’s a yummy egg-free way to get that crispy, battered exterior on breast or leg meat. A little shredded carrot, cooling bits of celery and cucumber, and a ginger dressing gives this salad an Asian fusion vibe.
To amp it up a little more, I also like to add whole cilantro leaves to the salad…which is layer four, if you’re packing this mason jar style.
Spicy Thai Chicken Zoodle Salad
Michelle Tam seems to know that my love language is yummy food and reality television – oh wait, you too? While this salad doesn’t have salad leaves, but there’s plenty of raw plant crunch from spiralized zucchini and carrots.
You may find that you can pack this salad in a smaller mason jar. Zoodles (and coodles) tend to keep for two to three days
Thai Yummy Salad
Another salad, another reason to bring a little Thai fusion inspiration into your life. This salad includes hearty and good-for-you greens, like cabbage and spinach.
A combination of fish sauce, garlic, mint, and basil make this salad sing. If you have it, I like to add a little raw ginger – say one teaspoon of grated ginger- to the dressing. With canned pineapple in the mix, it almost feels like you’re eating candy.
Paleo Caesar Salad
Did you think caesar salads were nevermore? The delicious mix of egg yolks, anchovy, and black pepper on top of romaine and clinging to croutons can be yours again.
The secret to this paleo caesar extravaganza is yucca root, otherwise known as cassava. Mel Joulwan uses yucca as a starchy base for her paleo croutons. Just be sure to pack them on top of your mason jar salad.