Salad in a Jar!

How to Build a Week of Make-Ahead Salads

Who wants to spend all morning chopping vegetables to make salads for lunch? Nobody! But with a little planning and the right tools, fresh salads can become a simple part of your healthy lunch routine.

Prepare your leafy greens, veggies, homemade salad dressing, and protein over the weekend. It might seem like a lot to do, but you’ll spend less than an hour prepping. When you mix and match toppings every morning, it only takes a few minutes to craft a custom salad for the day. Here’s how to get started.

Have Your Containers Ready

One of the coolest trends for packing salad is to use a mason jar. A jar makes it easier to keep your layers separate and a little fresher. You don’t need lots of jars to do this. You could simply wash out your jar and use it the next day. Other BPA-free plastic or glass containers work well too—it’s up to you.

You’ll need a handful of leakproof containers to keep your prepped ingredients separated and organized in the fridge.

Make & Take Mason Jar

Make Dressing in Advance

Store-bought salad dressings can be full of undesired ingredients and preservatives. You can make homemade dressing in advance and make just the right amount. A great Italian dressing goes well with most salads. Store your dressing separately and add it right before you dig into your beautiful salad. The Make & Take Mason Jar has a dressing container built right into the lid.

Salad Dressing Being Poured Into a Jar

Gain Some Grains

Cook up whole-grain pasta or quinoa ahead of time and keep it stored separately for the week. If you layer your salad in a jar, add the grains or beans (like chickpeas or black beans) first. They can absorb some moisture from the vegetables layered on top of them.

Three Varieties of Quinoa

Chop Those Veggies

Prep them all at once to save time. Cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots will last the whole week in your fridge. Tomatoes, berries, and avocado don’t last as long. Prep those ingredients the night before you pack them or that morning. (This will also keep your greens from getting soggy overnight.) You can also roast or grill up vegetables and use them all week. These tools make chopping veggies less of a chore:

  • Quick Slice: Cuts even slices in one simple motion
  • Veggie Spiralizer: Turns veggies into “noodles”
  • Close & Cut: Quickly splits grapes, cherry tomatoes, and even helps butterfly chicken breasts
  • Simple Slicer: Slides fruits and veggies back and forth for perfect slices.
Arrangement of Sliced Veggies

Get Your Greens

Greens should go near the top of your layered salad. Save money and buy your greens fresh, rather than in pre-washed bags. The bagged salads save time, but a salad spinner can also make quick work of cleaning and drying baby spinach, romaine, arugula, or kale. Dry salad is the secret to longer storage life in your fridge.

Greens in a Salad Spinner

Add Some Crunch & Fun Flavors

Give your salad extra personality and taste. Granola, nuts, croutons, or even crushed tortilla chips can add satisfying crunchiness. Other tasty extras include dried fruit, olives, bacon bits, cheese crumbles, or fresh herbs. You can have all of these ingredients pre-chopped and ready to toss in.

Granola and Tomatoes on a Mat

Pick a Protein

Adding protein to your salad will fill you up and keep you satisfied through the afternoon. Cook up a large batch of chicken, hard-boil some eggs, or slow cook pulled pork which you can store for three to four days. Tofu or shredded cheese can also give your salad a nice protein boost. It’s best to top your salad with protein the morning you make your salad.

See the best way to layer a salad here.
Need recipe inspiration? See the chart to pick your ingredients.

11 Responses to How to Build a Week of Make-Ahead Salads

  1. Cathy Murphy June 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    Love it

    • Ruby Spiller June 9, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

      Let me know if I can be of service.

    • Sherri Baker June 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      it’s so amazing! I have been doing “salad in a jar” workshops and showing people how to prep salads for the week. Great for the beach, work or anywhere. We preorder the jar sets and then get together and prep and make the salads, all while getting great recipes and tips.

  2. Cherisse Sherbert June 8, 2016 at 7:28 am #

    This is such a great idea. The more information that gets out for Salad in Jar the better. My customers love this.

  3. Vicki Champion June 12, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    Brilliant idea! I’m a mason jar nut anyway, and I do this type of lunch often, but now I can be organized and sorted! I love the built-in salad dressing compartment!

  4. Bonnie Jakub June 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

    I would love to share this page on my Face book page. how can I do that and get credit to my consultant (and my show)?

  5. Juli Anna Vonderharr August 29, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    Can someone please tell me how I can easily share these blog posts to Facebook parties? It would dramatically help my business…

  6. Gail Reiss September 7, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    Good idea!

  7. Deborah Roush June 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm #

    I love my Pampered Chef Mason Jar but I was wondering if anyone else has a problem getting the lid off? It fits so so tightly and its almost impossible to remove without opening the dressing compartment. Today at work, luckily a co-worker had an idea to put a thick rubber band around the lid to give more ability to “grasp” without slipping. I purposely put the lid on extra loose this morning, only tightening it 1/2 turn.

  8. karen king August 7, 2021 at 11:40 am #

    I love my Pressure Cooker I use it all the time.

  9. Emily April 9, 2024 at 8:43 am #

    I have a Pampered Chef Mason jar set, but I don’t know if it is dishwasher safe. I have the small jars that went with the set too.

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