I have been really enjoying all the fresh vegetables and fruits this time of year - the fall harvest has been so blessed and bountiful. In looking for ways to incorporate more of these veggies into our everyday eating, I have come across several great ideas to share.
Like most people, I am a busy person who has great intentions to eat right, but often fail in the practice due to not taking time to prepare.
These canning jar salads are a great way to prepare healthy lunches or meals ahead of time, and they are also portable! With the method shown here, you can also prepare several days' worth of salads ahead of time, and keep them in the refrigerator so they are readily available when needed.
First thing to start off with is quart sized wide mouth canning jars. It is important to use wide mouth jars, as they make packing and eating the salads much easier!
In the bottom of the jar, pour your salad dressing. I typically use about 1 tablespoon of dressing for a salad this size, but you can adjust it to your own tastes. Vinegar based dressings work especially well, but as you can see from the picture above, I have also used cream based dressings with success.
On top of the dressings, layer chopped veggies - whatever suits your fancy. I like to use crispy veggies and let them marinate in the dressings. I have found that carrots, celery, and broccoli work well here. I also use tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
Other toppings that can be used are shredded cheeses or small cuts of meat such as chicken or turkey. On the top, pack your lettuce leaves in.
It is important to pack the layers into the jar tightly so they stay put while transporting. The most important consideration is to pack the salads in such a way that the dressing and lettuce leaves do not mix until you are ready to eat it. Once the lettuce leaves touch the dressing, they begin to wilt, and if not packed carefully ahead of time, the salad will be a soggy mess by lunchtime.
When you are ready to eat your salad, you can shake the contents of the jar to mix first, or just stir with your fork (another reason that a wide mouth jar is handy). The plastic screw-on lids come in very handy for these salads, although sometimes if they are not leaving the house, I will just use a plastic bag and rubber band over the top to keep it covered and fresh while it is sitting in the fridge.
These salads can be made ahead of time, and kept for up to several days in the fridge. Line up your jars, chop up your veggies, and pack your salads for the week! You'll be eating healthy and saving time and money.
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