We’ve heard it for years. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We understand that protein and healthy foods are essential fuel to start the day. I’m probably not alone in focusing first on a good caffeinated fill-up!
Now LUNCH – that seems to be where a lot of us can get into a little trouble. Lunch? Many of you may be shaking your heads and asking what THAT is? You know, that meal we’re supposed to have around noon every day? Whether you work at home as a full-time Mom, family CEO, are retired, work outside of the home or both, we’re all so crazy busy we seem to have completely abandoned the entire concept of lunch. Now wonder we often eat just about anything to get through a long afternoon.
Mason jar salads are not new and we’ve seen them all around the internet. Personally, I was more than a bit skeptical of the idea. I have to be honest, I have a lot of weird food neuroses, for which I am teased mercilessly by family and friends. No food touching on the plate. (Yes, my family reminds me endlessly that it all winds up in the same place!) No squeeze bottles of any kind. No pre-made sandwiches. Really, with all my odd food “rules,” it’s a wonder I even eat! So of course, salads sitting around in a jar for a week did not, at first glance, sound the least bit appealing to me.
Was I ever wrong! Mason jar salads are the PERFECT solution to ensuring a fresh, delicious and healthy lunch every day. Layer your ingredients in the jar, with the heaviest food at the bottom, put on the lids and that salad is sealed tightly. Make them all up on Sunday. When Friday rolls around, your salad will be as fresh and delicious as the one you had on Monday. The only thing I do differently from many of the recipes online is that I DO NOT put the salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. I put the salad on my plate and add the dressing each day. Listen, the whole jar salad thing was a big step for me!! I know that some people vacuum seal their salads, though for just one week, the jars alone have worked out fine for me for months.
Here’s a great tip and idea for those of you who work outside of the home! Team up with a colleague! One of my amazing and lovely colleagues and I started tag-teaming the salads at the start of the New Year. I do the salads for both of us for one week, she takes the next week, and so on. It’s working out great! We both have a delicious and healthy lunch every day and only have to “make” lunch twice each month. Plus, you feel a tiny bit pampered to have someone else have your lunch all prepared for you when it’s not your week. It’s such a bright spot in a sometimes stressful day.
The great thing about Mason jar salads is that the possibilities are endless! I’m doing chicken Caesar salads this week. I simply broiled chicken sprinkled with Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt – have you ever used this? I love it!! Layer chicken, romaine, shaved parmesan cheese and homemade whole wheat croutons (how to make below.) Last week, my colleague made a wonderful salad of spinach, bacon, almonds, dried cranberries, hard boiled eggs and Asiago cheese. They rocked!
Homemade croutons are so easy to make! I cut off the crusts and cube whole wheat bread (I like to use Arnold’s Honey Whole Wheat.) Sprinkle liberally with equal parts olive oil and lemon olive oil, which imparts a wonderful flavor.
The bread will soak up the olive oil! Make sure the bread is coated but not soaked. I add Italian seasoning, lots of parmesan cheese and a dash of garlic salt.
Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
You can bake them to the softness or crispness that you like. Let them cool and store them – of course – in a Mason jar!
Let’s take back lunch! Instead of fast food, a candy bar from the vending machine, whatever the kids are having or NOTHING, put together Mason jar salads on Sunday and your lunch is “sealed” for the week!
Do you make Mason jar salads? We’d LOVE to hear about yours!!
Thank you so much for your visit!!