Crunch-crunch: A week of (make ahead) spring salads in jars

Rainy conditions and toe-tingling cool temperatures dissuaded any notions I had of going out this past weekend. Instead I donned Danny’s hoodie for an extra layer of warmth, and flew about the place, tackling my to-do list with vigor, a cup of tea never too far from my reach.

I managed to tuck a delicate chicken and coconut curry with lentils away in the freezer, accompanied by a dozen soft chocolate ginger cookies, and a few other goodies. Danny is plenty proficient in the kitchen, but he’ll have his hands full looking after our three kiddos when I’m away; the least I can do is prep a few meals.

I even assembled a batch of salads in jars, so they are certain to get a serving of vegetables at least once a day.

Layered salad-in-a-jar is another one of my favorite strategies for warm weather batch cooking. The salad dressing can be added right in the jar and when the ingredients are packed correctly everything stays very crisp and fresh.

All you need is a quick shake, a fork and you can crunch away to your hearts’ content.

A week of Salads in Jars on #salad #jars #lunch #realfood

Practical uses for make-ahead mason jar salads

Salads-to-go have plenty of practical uses and are a healthier option that most portable foods. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy pre-made salads in a jar.

  • School lunch, office lunch – Danny can attest to this one.
  • Accompaniment for a gift of a sympathy meal – Now you can bless someone with a lasagna and a salad that can hold for a few days.
  • Picnic – Pack up the greens along with the sandwiches and the lemonade.
  • Fast at-home lunches, because moms need a healthy lunch too.

Tips for a week of salads in jars on #salad

What goes into a mason jar salad?

Pretty much anything you have on hand: a dressing, greens, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Think about what you love to heap on your plate at a salad bar and go with that. Don’t forget about beans, grains and legumes, as well as cooked chicken or ham.

Of course, I have some opinions on what works well, and what you may want to avoid, but they are just suggestions. I  avoid ingredients that emit a particular odor that gets stronger with time such as eggs, blue cheese, tinned fish, and raw onion. Now I love all of those ingredients in my salad bowl, but I try to enjoy them in a regular tossed salad, as an accompaniment to dinner, instead of packed into a jar.

I’ve also found that strawberries and diced tomatoes tend to ‘weep’ after a few days and get goopy in the bottom of the jar, so I avoid those. I suppose whole cherry tomatoes would be much better.

drying salad ingredients

Tips for the best make-ahead mason jar salads

Here’s a true story and a testament to the jarred salads. Last Friday Danny took a mason jar salad to work that I had prepared on Thursday. It contained, in order: dressing, feta, tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce. He went for lunch with friends, forgot about the salad, and came home for the weekend.

When he checked the refrigerator on Monday, he reported that the salad was still fresh and the lettuce crisp – five days after it was made, and he enjoyed it for lunch. Here are a few more tips for creating a lasting, portable salad:

  • Start with clean wide-mouth jar that is completely dry. Moisture is not the friend of a crisp salad.
  • Tear, don’t cut lettuce, as the cut edges will turn brown.
  • Always start with the vinaigrette at the bottom, and keep the greens from coming in contact with it or they will wilt.
  • Place a folded paper towel at the top of the salad, just before the lid goes on and it will absorb some of the excess moisture and keep the greens more crisp.
  • Avoid strong odors (egg, blue cheese, fish, raw onion, etc), as mentioned above. Bring them in a separate baggie if needed.

Two spring recipes for make-ahead salad-in-a-jar

a week of do-ahead mason jar salads

Spring Pea and Romaine with Feta, Cucumber, and Radishes

This time of the year, I can’t get enough of spicy radishes and sweet spring peas. I’ve combined them in this salad with just enough salty feta cheese and a handful of buttery toasted sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch.

A creamy buttermilk dressing lightly coats the greens and brings a nice tang to the salad.

salad ingredients

Spring Pea and Romaine Salad with Feta, Cucumber, and Radish, Creamy Buttermilk Dressing

All ingredients are divided between two quart jars.
4.72 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 quarts
Calories: 313kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 3 Tablespoons Creamy Buttermilk Dressing
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 cup washed and sliced cucumbers two mini
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 3/4 cup fresh spring peas
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 hearts Romaine lettuce torn


  • In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  • Crumble 2 Tablespoons of feta into each jar on top of the dressing.
  • Add the cucumbers, radishes and peas, dividing them between two jars, and layering them.
  • Top with sunflower seeds and lettuce, again dividing the portion between the two jars.
  • Top with a clean dry lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days.


Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 594mg | Potassium: 349mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 620IU | Vitamin C: 28.4mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 2mg

 Arugula, Blueberry and Bacon Salad with Almonds, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Peppery arugula, sweet blueberries and crispy bacon make this salad the highlight of the day – any day! Almonds add the necessary crunch and a tangy, dead easy, balsamic dressing brings everything together.

ingredients bacon-1

Arugula, Blueberry and Bacon Salad with Almonds, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Recipe requires two clean quart jars with lids.
4.72 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 quarts
Calories: 299kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup blueberries washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 5 cups arugula or spinach


  • In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  • Scatter yellow bell pepper and blueberries into the jars, dividing equally between the two.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons both bacon and toasted almonds to the jars.
  • Pack remainder of jar with well-dried arugula or spinach and cover with a lid.
  • Place in the refrigerator and keep for up to 5 days.


Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 39mg | Potassium: 525mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1375IU | Vitamin C: 151.4mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 1.9mg

One more thing…Special Delivery!

A very dear friend (and Simple Bites contributor!) Megan of Stetted is about to welcome a sweet baby boy. I’m virtually sending a week of salads in  jars her way for those postpartum days, as I know nursing mamas crave their greens.

Also spreading a little love in this virtual baby shower are a handful of caring ladies who have also been in the kitchen for Megan. Be sure to check out their posts:

Megan, I couldn’t be happier for you as I watch you prepare for this baby. You’ve endured a kitchen remodel, and a cupcake marathon – girl, you are ready for this little one!! Best wishes to you and your sweet family as you experience motherhood all over again. It just gets better and better, let me tell you.

Three more ideas for mason jar salads:

What is your favorite salad and are you ready to make a take-out version?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. 5 stars
    What a great idea for a new mom, and any of us, too! I love your tips. I didn’t know about the paper towel on top. Thanks 🙂

  2. I love salads in jars, and these are a great way for me to add new recipes to my rotation! Yum!

  3. This is such a fun and awesome idea for a new mom!

  4. I really need to do this. I’d be more likely to grab a salad that is ready to go than make one from scratch.

  5. 5 stars
    So pretty! I didn’t realize that you could make salads ahead so far, and the jar idea is genius. (Just up Megan’s ally, too!) 🙂

  6. I have been wanting to try salads in a jar for a while now! They sound like loads of fun!

  7. I love this idea! I usually bring yogurt parfaits in Weck or Mason jars, but I never thought to do salads. Thanks for the tip about the paper towel on top!

  8. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    5 stars
    This is just the inspiration I need, because a certain husband has been told he needs a bit more “mediterranean” diet by his doctor. These salads fit the bill, so long as I can get him to remember them in the morning! And they’re perfect for Megan as she welcomes Baby Boy Stetted. Thanks for joining us in the shower, Aimee!

  9. awesome! thanks for this……and your other many great recipes that my family has been enjoying for years 🙂

  10. Brilliant Aimee! I love, love, love this post.

  11. Aw, thanks for the mention, and you know I LOVE this post. Salads in jars are a favourite around here, and just yesterday I had one with mixed greens, radish, sunflower seeds, feta, and buttermilk dressing – but sadly, no peas. I love how our great minds think alike! 🙂

  12. ugh, I really need to kick my butt into gear and do this. it’d be so much easier to eat healthy & to eat more greens if i just prepped like this ahead of time and make it a grab-n-go situation!!

  13. Love this! I always need new salad ideas!

  14. This is such an awesome post! Thanks for all the ideas!!!

  15. These salads are such a perfect idea, Aimee… And, not just for having a new baby around the house. Mine isn’t exactly “new” anymore, but I think I am going to have to make a few of these salads to have around during the week. Plus, it’s such a fun idea for a picnic or any outdoor get together in the summer.

  16. Such a great idea!!!! Love the jar idea – grab and go!

  17. YES! Thank you for this. I really need to do this. Like, right now it’s 1:22pm and haven’t eaten anything am about to eat a bag of chips. Ridiculous. Will try this asap. And I love how you put all of the heavy stuff on the bottom–makes so much sense. LOVE!

  18. OOO blueberries and bacon you say?? I’m game to try that!

  19. What a great idea! I love this. So clever. And versatile. No excuse now not to eat your greens!

  20. I love this idea. I can’t wait to try it! Gotta go get some jars! My favorite salad is mixed greens w/ blueberries & lime vinaigrette.

  21. Love this post! We are huge salad fans! And serving them in jars makes them so much more fun:)

  22. 5 stars
    I love how many of us are like, “this is great for our husbands!” I’ve been sending Dan to work with salads in jars these past few weeks, and he’s been loving the change!

  23. This is such a brilliant idea! I love having salads for lunch, but always find myself out of time in the mornings and end up leaving without one. Must try this out!

  24. I’m a big fan of salad in a jar, but then, you knew that already.

  25. Oh, I just love the idea of salads in a jar! So perfect for entertaining!

  26. Love this! We are going through some changes in our family life right now, and will be eating more lunches at home so this is going to be ideal. I had planned on looking for some smart make ahead lunch ideas today — and now you just saved me some time! 😉

  27. Love this idea, Aimee!! Thanks! 🙂

  28. This is a terrific idea! It will help our family eat healthier, having everything prepped and ready to eat. These salads will be great for having on hand for easy lunches this summer. Thank you for sharing!

  29. What an absolutely gorgeous lineup of salads! Love the way you’ve packed them for easy eating throughout the week. Thanks for sharing!

  30. I LOve this! I wish I had about 10 of them lined up in my fridge right now!

  31. what a brilliant idea – this way i can pack lunches in advance! thanks thanks thanks!

  32. Awesome idea!

  33. Aimee,
    What a great way to get your workday salad together! I find the canning jars just adorable, and the variety of the recipes sounds really tasty.
    My CSA farm share started up today, so I’ve got plenty of greens to play with.


  34. I’ve been on a total salad kick lately and it’s kinda hard to find ones that will travel well AND last til lunch the next day when they’ve been made the night before, I will thank you in advance for this blueberry salad. I know it’s going to become a new favorite!

  35. Wow love this idea and love this blog site. Get so excited when I find something simple, new, but inspiring! This salad in a jar idea fits the bill. I have to work tomorrow so I shall be taking a jar of salad with me 🙂

  36. I just love everything about this post, Aimee! I can’t wait to get making these with fresh produce from the market open next week!

  37. Oh wow, I need to do this! I am always drawing a blank for lunch ideas.

  38. Good thing I have all those extra jars from my lack-of-canning this season! These will definitely help make it easier for me to remember to eat well. Thanks for helping welcome the little guy! <3

  39. I’m looking forward to trying the blueberry and bacon salad. I javen’t tried any jar salads yet but they seem so perfect for lunch at work. I would also like to try this poppy seed one: Thanks also for the tips! Can’t wait to try making my salads in a jar.

  40. These look amazing! Too bad I work from home… 🙁

    • Theresa, I work from home and still make these salad jars. I don’t add dressing to the bottom but cut up all my veggies after our shopping and fill nine jars with choppped veggies and greens. I LOVE having them in the fridge all set for a quick lunch or a side salad at dinner. I just add my dressing and any protein. They last a full week.

      Thanks, Aimee, for these ideas and the paper towel trick. I’ve learned that a water/vinegar bath keeps my veggies crisp longer but have a hard time getting them dry enough.

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