The Best New Way to Bring Your Lunch
I'll admit it—my workday lunches can get pretty boring. I always think I'm going to finally make use of all those delicious recipes I've been pinning away, but then nighttime rolls around and I'm too busy watching really important things like The Bachelorette and Vampire Diaries. And then morning comes, and I'm running around like a headless chicken and I'm lucky if I remember my keys and bus pass on the way out the door, let alone find time to throw a tasty lunch together.
But with a teensy amount of planning, delicious lunches can be just a few easy steps away. All it takes is a trip to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, a couple pantry staples, some mason jars, and an hour of your time.
Why mason jars, you might ask? Despite the obvious cuteness factor, these jars will keep your greens fresher than fresh, they won't stain, they're BPA free, microwave and dishwasher safe, perfectly sized for salads for one, won't leak, travel well, and are reusable. Convinced? Yes, I thought so!
There really are only two rules to the mason jar salad: Start with the dressing or sauce, and end with the lettuce and herbs. However you want to layer the rest of the ingredients—try different meats, beans, lettuces, cheeses, vinaigrettes, or sauces—is up to you (though I usually layer by weight so heavier items, like tomatoes, are on the bottom).
The best part is you can make five salads at a time, and they'll stay fresh for the whole week—just grab and go on your way out the door! When lunchtime rolls around, you'll be sitting pretty with your delicious salad ready to be shaken up.
To get you going, check out three of my favorite recipes, ingredients listed in layering order. Happy lunching!
2 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 ½ oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 oz cooked penne pasta
½ cup fresh spinach leaves
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup chickpeas
½ cup sun-dried or oven roasted tomatoes
¼ cup spring onion, chopped
¼ cup red onion, chopped
½ cup olives, chopped
¼ cup piquillo peppers, chopped
½ cup fresh spinach
Greek Pasta Salad
2 tbsp easy lemon vinaigrette (see below)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cucumber, chopped
½ cup feta, crumbled
2 oz rigatoni, cooked
½ cup mixed greens
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
Easy Lemon Vinaigrette
(will make enough for 3-4 mason jars)
Juice from one large lemon
½ cup olive oil
Good pinch of salt
Couple of grinds of black pepper
Shake all ingredients together in a small container.
Speaking of shaking, try to remember to leave room at the top of each jar. Don't worry if you get a little over zealous (I usually am!) with your ingredients though—just shake the jar like crazy when you're ready for lunch, eat a few bites, then shake some more once there's a bit more room!
Remember to always chew some sugar-free gum or rinse your mouth after lunch – when you don’t have a toothbrush close by.