If you or someone you know has a garden, this is the time of year when gardens explode, offering enough zucchini and tomatoes for everyone in the neighborhood! My daughter, Brianna, is starting kindergarten this year, and I’m already starting to think about back to school meal ideas, portable lunches, and planning overall. My goal in life is always to get more organized, and for me, it starts with food!
Mason jars are great for so many things, but one of my all-time favorite uses for them is for a salad in a jar. Mason jars are better than plain Tupperware for two reasons. They don’t impart any flavor to the food so your food always tastes fresh. There’s nothing worse than bringing leftovers for lunch that taste like plastic. Also, they look beautiful! You eat with your eyes first, so the colorful layers look visually appealing. Packed lunches are no good if you don’t want to eat them. The goal of meal planning is to plan beautiful and delicious meals that you actually WANT to eat! You’ll save time, money, and you can improve your health in so many ways.
As a side note, another popular trend right now is getting together with a friend or family member and having a mason-jar salad-making party! Whether you’re having your own shindig or prepping in private, there are a couple of tips you need to follow to make sure your ingredients stay fresh and crisp until you are ready to dig in:
The Rules of Mason-Jar Salad Making
Always use wide-mouth mason jars. This makes it so much easier to get ingredients in and out of the jar!
Dressings and sauces always go on the bottom! This is to prevent everything else in the jar, like lettuce or greens, from getting soggy.
Tip: Measure your dressing or sauce the first time you make a salad. It’s easy to pour a lot in to cover the bottom, especially in a mason jar. Try to stick with 2 tablespoons or so.
Vegetables are next! Hearty vegetables go in next followed by less hearty vegetables on top of that. This creates a layer between the dressing and the delicate lettuce.
Grains and pastas go in next. Consider whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, farro, wheatberries, or whole grain pasta.
Cheese and protein follow.
Lastly, add your lettuce, greens, or in this case zucchini.
Close the lid tightly. Shake and Enjoy!
You can eat the meal straight out of the jar or dump it into another bowl.
Here’s a super simple recipe using plentiful summer bounty:
Spiralized Zucchini Pesto Caprese salad
1 zucchini, spiralized (I use a hand spiralizer)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1-2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto (Wegmans has the best pesto on their olive bar!)
Place pesto in bottom of jar. Next, add cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Spiralize zucchini using a hand spiralizer. I got mine off of Amazon for $5.99. Add to the top of the jar. Put lid on tightly. Shake and enjoy right out of the jar!
2 tb prepared pesto
Place pesto in bottom of jar. Next, add cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Spiralize zucchini using a hand spiralizer. Add to the top of the jar. Put lid on tightly. Shake and enjoy right out of the jar!