As it turns out, leafy green salads travel way better than you might think. They pack quite well for long flights, lunch or as leftovers for a later meal. But keeping your leafy greens bright, delicious and fresh does take planning. Here are our quick tips for packing the perfect (non-soggy) salad:
1. FIND THE RIGHT JAR
Canning jars hold salads beautifully, but wide-mouthed jars are easiest to pack and shake your salad. Pint-sized jars are great for smaller side salads, but larger quart-sized or 2-quart sized jars are handy for dinner salads. You’ll likely want two quart-sized jars if you’re taking a salad to a potluck.
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2. CHOOSE DEEP LEAFY GREENS
The greens are the foundation of your salad, and like any meal, you want to start with a solid base. For salads that travel and keep well on the go, choose the darkest, deepest leafy greens you can find. Kale and collard greens are best, followed by spinach and arugula, then delicate spring greens.
3. PACK YOUR SALAD IN LAYERS
When you make a healthy salad at home, your inclination is to mix it all up and eat it. But all of that changes when you’re packing salads to go. Instead of pre-mixing, start packing your salad by placing the dressing alone in the bottom. Then, pack your salad in layers starting with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients (grains and meat) at the bottom. Work your way up through the lighter ingredients (fresh vegetables), placing the delicate greens on top. This layering system will protect your greens from the dressing until you’re ready to shake it up and enjoy. For ease of mixing, leave a little space at the top of the jar.
4. SEAL TIGHTLY
With the lid sealed, Mason jar salads keep for up to five days in the fridge. If you’re making a salad that includes more perishable ingredients like avocados, tomatoes, chicken or hard-boiled eggs, you’ll want to wait until the day you eat the salad to add these ingredients.
5. SHAKE IT UP
When you’re ready to enjoy your salad, simply shake the jar vigorously to incorporate the ingredients. They’ll get pretty compact in there. Pour salad into a bowl and toss gently with your fork to be sure everything is well combined.
READ MORE > 3 QUICK AND EASY MASON JAR DESSERTS
HOW TO MAKE A CRISP SALAD IN A MASON JAR
- 1–4 tablespoons salad dressing
- Mix of raw and cooked vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts, cheese and other salad ingredients
- Salad greens
- Wide-mouth canning jars with tight-fitting lids:
- Pint jars for side salads, quart jars for individual, meal-sized salads, quart jars (or larger) for multiple servings
- Large bowl for serving
- Pour salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. How much you use depends on the size of the salad. Add any hard-chopped vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, beets, and so on. Next, add beans, grains or pasta, like chickpeas, black beans, cooked barley or quinoa, as well as any crunchy nuts or seeds.
- For same-day salads, add protein like crumbled cheese, meat or eggs. For make-ahead salads, add these ingredients to the top of the jar the day you plan to eat your salad.
- Next, add softer, more perishable ingredients like avocados, tomatoes, diced apricots or berries. Similar to the proteins, add these now if you’ll be eating your salad within the day. If you’re preparing salad for later in the week, wait until the day you plan to eat the salad.
- Fill the rest of the jar with chopped salad greens.
- Screw on the lid and refrigerate up to five days (or until lunchtime). When you’re ready to eat, unscrew the lid and shake the salad ingredients into the bowl. This shake is typically enough to mix the salad with the dressing, but a good toss with your fork won’t hurt.