My least favourite part of working outside of my home is making lunches. Come to think of it my least favourite part of working at home is also making lunches. Also – my least favourite thing about having kids in school is…you guessed it…making lunches.
And no matter how hard I try I can’t avoid this task. So I’ve been looking for healthy ways to make some changes. One of the things I have always wanted to try was mason jar salads and so I did.
First stop was Michael’s to pick up 3 wide mouth mason jars ($5.95 each). Of course the day I was there the regular size mason jars were on sale and I was tempted…but don’t do it. They are way too small. You need wide mouth.
Next stop was Costco to stock up on all the ingredients I had decided to use in this first attempt:
- Organic baby spinach
- grape tomatoes
- baby carrots
- organic quinoa
- goat cheese crumbles
- homemade dressing (oil & vinegar)
I prepared a cup of quinoa and had it cooled in the fridge before starting to build the salads. I also hardboiled the eggs in advance.
I had already washed and thoroughly dried the mason jars – its crucial they are completely dry before you start preparing. It’s the only way you can be sure the salad will stay fresh.
Now it was time to assemble. First layer was the dressing. I made this from scratch – olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic & some herbs. Simple but delicious.
note: I would use more next time. wasn’t quite enough liquid.
Next layer is the hard vegetables – cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots – those that can absorb the dressing and marinate in it:
Next layer would be the less hardier vegetables if I used any – mushrooms, etc. – but in this salad I didn’t so we move on…
To the layer of quinoa. No instruction needed here. Just added a few tablespoons of the cooked grain and moved on to…
The protein layer. I thought about grilling some chicken and might do that next time but for this one I chopped up one hard boiled egg, added a couple of tablespoons of goat cheese and a handful of sunflower seeds.
Finally it was time for the greens. By the point my jars were more than half full and I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough spinach to make my salad…well…a salad.
But I needn’t have worried. I crammed that spinach in to the hilt and then sealed the jars up tight. Aren’t they pretty?
I couldn’t wait to eat them!
And the next morning – amidst all the chaos of breakfast prep and rushing off to swimming lessons – it was so great to just be able to grab the jar, put it in my bag and run.
The real test was still to come – the taste test. They say there you can eat the salad right out of the jar – that’s one of the main draws actually, the fact you don’t need another bowl. But personally I don’t think that’s really feasible. I need to mix it all up. I need to have all the ingredients work together.
So I dumped mine into a bowl, mixed it up completely and dug in.
And it was freakin’ delicious! I was so full, so satisfied after eating it. My only thought was it needed a little more dressing. The quinoa dried it out so more liquid is needed. I feel like I can use this same basic salad structure all the time just changing up the veggies and protein options.
That said, if I had to eat this same exact salad every day for lunch I would do so happily. It was that good.
Now if only I could get my kids to eat the same I might actually stop hating making lunches.
just kidding…that will NEVER happen.