3 Easy Mason Jar Salad Recipes For Kids (and Busy Mamas, too!)
With Summer just around the corner and temperatures rising, I crave simpler meals that give us more time to play and less work to do in the kitchen.
This is where salads come in, and not just traditional leafy green salads (though those are tasty, too), but salads that include fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats for a dish that is nourishing as it is delicious.
Add your favorite salad to a mason jar, and you have a tasty meal that is convenient to take anywhere on-the-go. If you’re a busy mama, packing a mason jar salad can be a great way to keep you and your family nourished and fed, even on the busiest days.
These mason jar salad recipes are perfect for packing up and taking with you anywhere, including work, a picnic, or on any adventure that you might be with your family.
Benefits of a Mason Jar Salad
There are many reasons you should consider making a mason jar salad the next time you pack your lunch to-go. One of the best parts about packing a mason jar salad is that you can literally put all your ingredients in the jar, including the salad dressing and all the fixings.
Here are some other benefits of using mason jars for salads and as food storage containers:
Meals prepped ahead to save you time: Mason jar salads can also be a simple way to batch cook and meal plan. This means you can make multiple lunches for yourself or your family in one sitting, which you can store in your mason jar and have ready to go in your fridge whenever you need a nutritious meal. Having multiple meals prepped ahead of time can take the guesswork out of the “what should I eat” question. As a busy mom, having mason jar salads prepped and stored in your fridge for the week can be an easy and fast way to feed yourself and your family.
Mason jars are an environmentally-friendly way to store your food: Mason jars are made of glass, which unlike plastic food containers, are non-porous. Glass containers don’t absorb smells, colors, harmful toxins or bacteria, unlike their plastic counterparts. Glass containers can last you far longer than other types of food storage.
Easy to clean and transport: Your mason jar can easily be transported from fridge to table to sink. Clean-up is a breeze, and when you pack your lunch in a mason-jar, it helps minimize the amount of other dishes or packaging you might need.
I love using this set of mason jars, as they can double for salads or water cups. With matching lids and containers that are all the same size, it also makes it easier to store in your kitchen.
I have found that the mason jar salad size that works best to accommodate most family-style salad recipes is the 32 oz. with wide-mouths, but you can always get a bigger or smaller size, depending on whether you want to make single serving salads or family-sized portions.
How to Make Mason Jar Salads
You can put pretty much put any one of your favorite salad recipes into a mason jar to pack on-the-go. The key to making a mason jar salad is how you layer the ingredients in the jar.
Especially if you’re not planning on eating the salad until later or are meal prepping salads ahead of time, you want to strategically keep wet ingredients at the bottom of the jar. Adding your salad dressing or sauce first will help keep your fresh veggies, like spring mix or spinach, stay crisp and tender.
Heartier raw vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, etc. hold up better than lettuce in mason jars. These vegetables have a tough outer skin that will keep them from getting soggy, so it works well to directly layer these under any leafy greens.
As you build each layer, you want to keep more delicate ingredients for the top most layer and farthest away from the salad dressing.
To make your mason jar salad, keep these pointers in mind:
Add your favorite dressing to the bottom of your mason jar
Layer legumes, like beans or lentils, on top of the dressing. Legumes have a thick outer skin that won’t wilt from the dressing.
The middle layers are for ingredients that are not as fragile but that you don’t want directly in the dressing either. This might include any grains, eggs, cheese, lentils, corn or peas.
The topmost layer should be reserved for delicate ingredients that you want to keep far away from the dressing until it’s time to eat. This includes any lettuce or fresh greens, like spinach or arugula, seeds and nuts. Raw veggies should be layered under leafy greens.
After layering all your ingredients in your mason jar, be sure to seal tightly with the air-tight lid and store in your refrigerator until you are ready to eat. Generally speaking, your mason jar salads can stay fresh in your fridge for about 3-5 days, depending on the type of ingredients and dressings you are using.
When it’s time to eat, you can give your jar a good shake and use a fork to evenly distribute everything. As another option, you can dump the entire contents of your mason jar salad into a serving bowl, mix, and enjoy; this is a better option for family-sized salads
3 Easy Mason Jar Salad Recipes For Kids and Grownups
For many kids, vegetables can be hard to eat, so putting a twist on a typical salad can make it more enjoyable and fun to eat - for you and your kiddos!
The great thing about these mason jar salad recipes is that they can be prepared ahead of time and stored until you’re ready to eat them, which makes them perfect for parties, barbecues, and all your favorite summer events.
Get your kids involved in the kitchen by letting them take over some of the prep work, like washing produce, slicing fruit, and layering ingredients in the mason jars.
Note: These recipes are enough to fill 2 large mason jars, which is perfect for meal prepping for your family for the week or for batch cooking. Make your dressing and evenly divide it between two mason jars, along with the rest of your ingredients. Alternatively, you can use these recipes to fill multiple smaller mason jars for individual salad servings to have available in your refrigerator throughout the week.
Check out three of my favorite summer salads that are simple to put together in a mason jar and that you and your kids will love to eat:
Fruity Grain Salad
This yummy salad is a kid-favorite and crowd pleaser. The combination of the whole-grains with the fresh and dried fruits make this salad high in fiber and nutrient dense. Using greek yogurt as a base in the dressing also makes this salad a great source of protein. Pack this for your next picnic for a fun and delicious dish to enjoy with your kids.
I cup cooked pearled barley or farro (whole grain)
2 apples, cored and chopped (Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)
3 cups grapes (red or green) halved
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts
⅔ cups chopped dates
1 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps water
In a smaller bowl, add ingredients for dressing and stir to mix thoroughly.
To layer in mason jars, add yogurt dressing to the bottom of the jar. Add chopped apples first. Top with the sliced grapes, followed by the dried fruits. Next, layer with cooked grain and top with the chopped walnuts. Seal with the airtight lid and store in refrigerate to eat later!
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
This mason jar salad recipe is a gluten-free and vegan option. However, this recipe can easily be modified to your liking. Add chicken, cheese and seeds for a satisfying salad option.
2-14 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1.5 lbs tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1.5 lbs cucumbers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ medium red onion, thinly chopped
3 medium avocados, diced
½ cup fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, and/or dill), finely chopped
For the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 large lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp sea salt
Ground pepper to taste
Optional add-ins: Cooked chicken, crumbled feta cheese, sunflower or pumpkin seeds
Add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl and stir gently to combine. As another option, you can add all your dressing ingredients directly to the bottom of a mason jar and stir to combine before layering the rest of your salad.
To layer in a mason jar, begin by adding the dressing to the bottom of the jar. Add chickpeas on top of the dressing. Layer with your avocado. If using chicken and cheese, add to this middle layer as well. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion. Top with fresh herbs and seeds (if using) and seal with an airtight lid.
Store and refrigerate to eat later!
Kid Friendly Pesto Pasta Salad
1 - 20-ounce package spinach-filled tortellini
⅓ cup basil pesto sauce
⅓ cup olive oil
3 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 cups mini fresh mozzarella balls
½ cup chopped fresh basil
6 oz. salami, chopped (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook tortellini according to package instructions, al dente. Drain and set aside until completely cooled.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together basil pesto sauce and olive oil until well combined.
To store in a mason jar, add the basil pesto mixture to the bottom of the jar. Layer first with the sliced tomatoes. Add the mozzarella balls and salami on top of the tomatoes. Next, layer the cooled tortellini and top with the chopped fresh basil. Seal tightly with a lid and store in your fridge until ready to eat.
For a mason jar salad with chicken version, you can simply replace the salami in this recipe with cooked, shredded chicken breast. Add toasted pine nuts and more fresh greens to your topmost layer with the basil, like spinach or arugula, for a heartier salad.
Store and refrigerate to enjoy later!
What are your favorite summer salads that your family enjoys?