Eat a healthy workday lunch with salad in a mason jar
When it comes to making healthy workday lunches, people who want to eat salads may find themselves facing an uphill battle. Making salads ahead of time is often a major headache. Even after you've compiled all the ingredients, you often must resign yourself to eating soggy greens that have spend hours doused with salad dressing. By contrast, you could buy pre-packaged salads – but we all know plastic setups such as these are hard on the environment.
Luckily, a recent food preparation trend has opened our eyes to a new way of packing salads for on-the-go eating. Mason jars were once the territory of jams and sauces, but they've recently moved into the space of salads. For a sustainable, healthy working lunch, simply whip up a salad in a jar and carry it with you in your eco-friendly backpack.
The concept behind mason jar salads
When you pile your veggies in mason jars in an organised fashion, you can take them with you on the go, packing them in a reusable container for transport. By organising the veggies according to density and absorbency (which we'll explain how to do below), you can prevent your dressing from intermingling with the rest of your jar's contents.
Is there a commercial market for salad vending machines?
Though making your salads at home and bringing them with you is a great option, this phenomenon is also taking off on a commercial scale. According to Business Insider Australia, a US-based company has begun selling jar-contained salads in a vending machine. The company, called Farmer's Fridge, currently only sells in its products in the US, but it hopes to expand. The popularity of mason jar salads also indicate that there's a market in Australia for similar products.
You may be wondering how vending machine fare could be considered sustainable, but wonder not, as the mason jars dispensed by Farmer's Fridge can be recycled on-site. They can also be saved for later use if desired.
How to make your mason jar salad
Any salad you can dream up, you can transport in a mason jar! The most important aspect of preparation is to ensure you layer your contents in the proper order – this is key to preventing your dressing from coming into contact with your greens and causing them to become wet and soggy. Another important part of avoiding this is to keep your mason jar right-side up during transit.
First, pour 1 to 4 tablespoons of salad dressing into your jar. Food blog The Kitchn notes that you can adjust your dressing portion to taste. Next, layer hard veggies, such as carrots, capsicum, beets and cucumbers, followed by any beans or grains (however, if you'd like to add soft, absorbent grains such as quinoa or millet, save these for closer to the top).
Next, add any cheese or proteins. However, if you're making the salad ahead of time and not planning to eat it for a few days, you'll want to skip this step and add these items over the top on the day you plan to eat the salad.
Soft vegetables and fruits, including tomatoes, avocados, berries or dried fruits come next, but fresh fruits should also be left off until the day you're going to consume the meal. If you're preparing ahead of time, add these later.
Nuts, seeds and those aforementioned light grains (millet and quinoa) come next, followed by your salad greens! Pile on as many as you'd like. If you've opted wait to add your cheese, proteins and fresh fruits until a later date, they can go on top.
When you're ready to consume your salad, simply pour it in a bowl, toss and enjoy!