Two make-ahead mason jar salads {for winter}

It’s back to school and work this week, with a portable lunch line-up for us all: salads in jars.

Last spring I sliced radishes and shelled peas for a weeks worth of jarred salads. Today’s winter edition is decidedly less pretty, but boy, do these salads pack a punch of flavour and protein.

Make-ahead mason jar salads are good strategy for healthy lunches whether enjoyed at school, work, or at home. 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.

Make-ahead mason jar salads for winter. #salad #lunches #realfood

Here are a few 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.
  • Always start with the vinaigrette at the bottom, and keep the greens from coming in contact with it or they will wilt.
  • Make sure ingredients like roasted vegetables are completely chilled before adding them.
  • Properly drain ingredients like canned beans, feta cheese and pickled vegetables before adding them.
  • 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 ingredients with strong odours such as egg, blue cheese, fish, raw onion, etc. Bring them in a separate baggie if needed.

Do-ahead winter salads in jars. #salad #lunches #realfood

So what goes into your winter salad in a jar? Pretty much anything you have on hand: a dressing, roasted vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, cheeses, and topped up with shredded winter greens like cabbage or kale.

Think about what you have on hand in the pantry and the refrigerator and go with that. Don’t forget about beans, grains and legumes, as well as shredded chicken or ham.

Below is the line-up for today’s salads. It’s not very glamourous, but it was what I had on hand without shopping for specialty ingredients. Healthy lunches and a fridge clean? Now that is worth writing about.

Make-ahead mason jar salads for winter. #salad #lunches #realfood


Carrot, Cabbage and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Raisins

All ingredients are divided between two quart jars.
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 quart jars
Calories: 403kcal
Author: Aimee



  • Shred carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
  • In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  • Divide carrot ribbons between each jar on top of the dressing.
  • Add the raisins next, then the roasted cauliflower and pepitas, dividing them between two jars, and layering them.
  • Cover ingredients with 2 cups shredded napa cabbage.
  • Top with a clean, dry lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days.


Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 1153mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 10675IU | Vitamin C: 71.7mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 3.4mg


Carrot, Cabbage and Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Sweet Potato & Kale Salad with Black Beans

All ingredients are divided between two quart jars.
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salads
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 jars of salad
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Aimee



  • In the bottom of a clean, dry quart jar, spread 2 Tablespoons of salad dressing. Repeat with second jar.
  • Crumble 2 Tablespoons of feta into each jar on top of the dressing.
  • Add the black beans and the cubed roasted sweet potato, dividing them between two jars, and layering them.
  • Top with chopped kale, again dividing the portion between the two jars.
  • Top with a clean dry lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days.


Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 955mg | Potassium: 1165mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 22900IU | Vitamin C: 165.7mg | Calcium: 353mg | Iron: 4.3mg


Sweet Potato & Kale Salad with Black Beans

Do you have a beloved winter salad?

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. Hi Aimee,

    I LOVED your original jarred salad post, so I was glad to see a cold weather version. I’m having a winter love affair with pomegranate seeds and am wondering whether you’ve tried them in a jar? If so, did they keep well or add too much moisture?

    • Dena, they would be great! And so healthy, too. I added them to nearly every salad over the holidays, which is the only reason I’m changing things up a little today. 🙂

  2. This is a great way to make sure my family eats a proper lunch. Can the salads be made a few days in advance?

  3. Love these make ahead mason jar salads! Perfect to pack them in for lunch and just add a protein when you are ready to eat them! Love it!

  4. Aimée,
    Your winter salads are as fresh and pretty as your spring ones. I recently finished up almost all of the Fall farm share fresh/refrigerator veggies (only the carrots are left) and I’m turning to the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve for inspiration. I cubed and roasted some butternut squash for a pizza the other night, and if I could have kept my fork out of the extra that would have been a perfect addition to a jarred winter salad. I’m finally starting to free up some canning jars, too, as I use up the stuff I put up in season.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Thanks for the inspriation! …. I have half a head of Nappa cabbage sitting in the frige right now…. LOL

  6. Really nice, I did one last night with black beans, quinoa, veggies, cilantro and a nice dressing. It was yum today at lunch 🙂

  7. I have to admit I am too lazy to make such salads 🙂 but I really like them.

  8. Salads look gorgeous! Question: if you fill the salads to the top of the jar, do you find it’s hard to shake to mix the ingredients up? Thanks Aimee!

    • When I make jarred salads, I just turn it out onto a plate and let the dressing drizzle all over the rest of the ingredients. Just make sure you have a big enough plate because these salads can actually be quite big!

  9. 5 stars
    Wow – what a great post!

    I love salads during the summer but it all kind of falls apart during the winter when I eat more soups. There’s no doubt the raw foods in salads are much better for you than heated up soup.

    I must admit to loving the warmed up feeling after eating soup in winter though. Plus wasn’t it Mamas soup that bought us back to health after being sick as youngsters?

    After reading this post I’ll make a definite attempt at eating more salads over the next few months.

    • I think raw and cooked foods can have a place at the table. Especially in winter it’s good to have warm foods. I think winter salads are nice because they break up the “monotony” of cooked foods.

  10. 5 stars
    Sweet potato, apple, and pecan salad with orange vinaigrette is one of my favourites. I look forward to trying your sweet potato salad too. I love the new-to-me portable jar idea!

  11. What a convinient and healthy lunch idea!

  12. These sound amazing! I definitely need to give them a try. 🙂

  13. Oh wow, so convenient and so tasty 🙂 This is definitely something I need to try!

  14. What a pretty and portable way to enjoy salads!

  15. Hi! I love this post! I have a question though…do you eat the beans and sweet potatoes cold? Do you cook them first? I’m a little confused when it comes to adding in ingredients I normally eat hot.


    • Hi Courtney, Good question. Both are enjoyed cold, yes, but the sweet potatoes have first been roasted! The beans are from a can, so cooked. Delish!

  16. 5 stars
    Just tried making one of these as my first mason jar salad – but it sounded too good I couldn’t wait for my mason jars to arrive! Made some tweaks based on what I had but thank you so much for the idea to throw roasted sweet potatoes into a salad! So simple, but so satisfying!

  17. Catherine :D says

    5 stars
    These are fantastic and just what I needed. I am also trying to do the ‘eat from the pantry only’ thing right now, and I have enough to do these with a little twist here and there. THANKS for the post, great start to 2016:)

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