When it comes to lunches, grab-and-go is my mantra. This often rules out the ‘good stuff’ because my laziness level when it comes to food is high and I can’t be farrrrked washing and chopping veggies every time I feel like a salad, which leaves me reaching for the corn chips and guac far too often. People are always banging on about how life-changing meal prep is and until now, I’ve always put it into my too-hard basket where it keeps things like exercise and meditation company.
A few years back, salad jars were all the rage. I’d skim through pictures and recipes and think to myself, “Gee, that sounds like a good idea” while I continued to shove Doritos into my face. Recently, however, I spotted some grouse, wide-mouthed jars on sale at my local supermarket (LaManna in Essendon for those of you in Melbs…check it out, you’ll never want to leave) and chucked a few in my trolley. That night, I devoted some time washing, chopping and layering and guess what – I am ON BOARD the salad jar train. Oh yes I am, and WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER? Depending on the ingredients you use, these babies last around five days in the fridge and all you have to do is shake and eat. The wide-mouth jars don’t even require you to empty it out onto a plate, so there’s even one less dish to wash. They’re the ultimate lazy-girl, food-on-the-go that tastes good and leaves you feeling like a greenery-munching superstar. Better still, they’re totally portable so are perfect for work or when you’re on-the-go with your kids.
There are a couple of ‘rules’ when it comes to perfecting your salad jar, and just like a good cake, it’s all about the layers. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, this is just how I like to do it.
Dressing goes first: As in, at the bottom of the jar. No one likes soggy salad and this will ensure that all the liquidy, flavour-filled goodness remains at the bottom til you’re ready to get your LaBamba on and shake it up.
Hard veggies: This is your next layer. Think stuff that won’t wilt and has a bit of crunch like celery, carrots, capsicums, beetroot, etc.
Legumes and/or grains: If you’re keen to bulk up your salad, this is your third layer. Think heavy stuff like rice, beans, chickpeas, pasta, whatever. YUM!
Protein: Fancy a bit o’ chicken or cheese in your salad? Get it in there on top of your legumes or grains. Just bear in mind that if you’re going to use ingredients like chicken, it won’t last as long in the fridge so if you’re keen to work in big batches, add your chicken or protein of choice to the jar the morning you’re going to eat it.
Soft veggies and/or fruit: Again, if you’re working in big batches, consider keeping this stuff seperate and adding just before eating. Think avos and tomatoes and if you dig fruits such as strawberries or watermelon in your salad, now is the time. These should be good a day ahead of time, but beyond that, add just before eating.
Nuts and seeds: If you fancy a bit of crunch in your salads, chuck in some almonds, sunflower seeds and more absorbent grains like quinoa.
The shrubbery: Your final layer should be your greenery; lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, whatever floats your boat. The idea is to keep this stuff as far away from your dressing as possible so your salad stays nice and crisp.
If you’re looking for a bit of inspo to make your salad a bit fancy, here’s a vid of Jamie Oliver’s best salad jar recipes. Thanks, Jamie.
Monty believes she makes the world’s BEST salad, so if you’re keen to give it a go, here’s her recipe for you…