Monday, February 24, 2014

Mason Jar Salads

Usually I am quite tired after a full day (or week) of work and even making a simple dinner (thank you frozen section at Costco!) is more than I want to handle.


Every once and awhile, I go in Mormon Mommy Blogger/Pinterest/Super Woman/Suzy Homemaker mode and find new powers for domestic success!

Last month I went a little crazy in my meal prep for the upcoming week. I was determined to find a low stress, affordable, and easy way to feed both myself and my even-busier resident husband a healthier diet, knowing we are both on-the-go with often little time to think about lunch beyond a granola bar or PB sandwich. I posted my first experiment on Instagram and have had so much interest/requests I figured I better do a post.

My husband and I try really hard to bring our lunches to work, mostly in an attempt to be frugal. It is usually a huge chore to realize late at night when it is already past your bedtime that you did not take the time to plan a lunch. I usually end up 1- stocking up on the carbs and packaged foods, 2-starve myself to save money (or simply because I don't have the time), or 3-cave and buy something ironically unhealthy at the hospital like a burger and fries.


I have also been striving to eat healthier--my main goal is incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and real foods into our diet. When I plan ahead I tend to do pretty well with this.

So, I decided to try the Mason Jar salad thing that seems to be trending on Pinterest and Facebook.

Since Costco is my friend (or maybe it is the other way around) I stocked up on a few staples:

Large (did I say large? I mean HUGE? 4 lbs is a lot) bag of pre-washed spinach
Container of grape tomatoes
Bag of mini bell peppers
Head of Red Cabbage

I tend to have a lot of dressings on hand already and things to supplement like eggs, cheese, craisins (Abe's favorite), nuts, tuna, grilled chicken, etc.

And then I started layering, mixing and matching as I went, using ideas I found on pinterest as a reference.

Here were my steps:
1. Salad dressing of your choice (I wasn't ever sure how much to add. If you are really a stickler, it could be helpful to measure as it was hard to judge). I used a range of creamy and vinegar based dressings to keep from getting bored.
2. Layer toppings in bite size pieces--I tried to layer things at the bottom I felt were less likely to get soggy: cheese, carrots, grape tomatoes (I felt these would hold up better than diced tomatoes, but I did cut them in half), chopped peppers, cabbage, etc, with cucumbers, eggs, and other more moist or potentially soggy items at the top.
3. Add greens. I was pleasantly surprised how much lettuce actually came out of the jars after I felt like I didn't leave much room for it.
4. Store (and admire your handiwork)--these easily stored for 1 week+
5. Grab and go!
6. Enjoy knowing you are being a little nicer to your body and feel clever doing it.

One week of lunches for two busy doctors on a diet, and a budget!

A few thoughts:

  • As far as eating them goes, I ate them straight out of the jar...or poured onto a plate (which was easier but required slightly more planning). They were large and filling salads!
  • They looked beautiful in my fridge and lasted for over one week, maybe even two (I went out of town before I had the chance to finish the last one towards the end of week two). The second week I noticed some wilting of the greens and I could tell the tomatoes were ripening, but they were still edible. This probably depends on the freshness of your produce of course!
  • You can mix and match for variety. I tried some more cobb-type salads with cabbage, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, more of a Caesar type salad with parmesan and creamy dressing, as well as a fruity vinaigrette with craisins, mandarin oranges, and almonds.
  • Adding a protein like tuna, eggs, grilled chicken helped me feel more full, made it more enjoyable, and kept fine.
  • Be aware people may give you weird looks, almost everyone will question what you are doing, and most will think you are a real Martha Stewart!
  • This was very affordable and a great way to get some extra veggies in to my day!
  • I read some people would place paper towels or crackers at the top of the jar to absorb moisture. I tried this in a few jars but found it unnecessary. It actually just made me paranoid, of eating the paper towel!
  • I would like to try more toppings and types of salads: southwest with avocado, corn, salsa, fajita meat; fruits like strawberries, blueberries with candied nuts; beans, feta cheese, quinoa, bacon, beets, etc.

 This is 1-2 weeks later. A little misty in there, but not bad!
And what to do with the 3.5 lbs of spinach you have left over?


1 comment:

Colt said...

wow awesome. I am going to have to try this