10+ Irresistible Make Ahead Salads and How to Keep Them Fresh All Week



Overweight, unhappy, and more than my bowels were irritable. I was losing my patience with my children, feeling awful about myself and not myself at all. I was feeding my body garbage, and it was not happy about it. Enter: Clean eating.

I was so thrilled to start the journey and feel better. I had started right after I had my second child, and I couldn't believe how great I was feeling.

I lost a ton of weight, and I CRAVED working out. With all the crud I was eating before I didn't realize how much it was holding me back.

When my body got what it was craving (good food!) I was able to do more things around the house, feel less overwhelmed, and so so so much more patient with my children.

I fell off the wagon with it over the years, but I'm restarting again today! It's a silly realization I came to. You have to eat every day, so you might as well plan for it. That's one more decision you won't have to make daily, decision fatigue is real!
My friend April, from https://shapelyways.com/ offered to write a post for me about Mason Jar Salads, and I was thrilled to accept. Perfect timing.
She has laid out 11 amazing salads you can make ahead on a Sunday, and they'll still be fresh on Friday. *we use affiliate links, so anything you click may give me a small commission. Thanks for supporting my family!

10 Easy Low Carb Meal Prep Mason Jar Salads + Freshness Tips

Cheaper and quicker than going out to lunch, mason jar salads make healthy on-the-go meals.
Clean eating is for everyone.
No matter what your dietary preference: keto, paleo, low-carb, vegan, or vegetarian, there is a nutrient-dense salad in a jar that’s perfect for you.
If a salad recipe looks good but doesn’t fit your diet, tweak it. Don’t have the exact ingredients? Tweak it.
Salads in a jar are versatile, easy to prepare, super convenient and taste fantastic. Plus, they help you eat lots more veggies.


You might also like: Meal Planning Basics

These recipes are low-carb, paleo and keto friendly.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, a few simple substitutions allow them to fit into your personal diet too.
Before we get into these amazing salads, let’s cover some basics to help you get the most out of these salads.

Freshness Tips

Layers Are The Key To Keeping Salads In A Jar Fresh And Crisp

  • Dressing at the bottom keeps moisture away from soft veggies and lettuce.
  • Next, add any ingredients you might like to marinate in the dressing. Some examples are onions, chicken, garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes or cucumbers.
  • Or you’ll want to add your hardier veggies like carrots, cabbage, and celery. These stay fresh when in contact with liquid.
  • The protein layer acts as a barrier between the wet ingredients and the soft veggies.
  • Soft veggies and greens on top for freshness
  • At the very top of your jar, you can add a paper towel layer to absorb moisture. Then items like herbs or bacon that need to be completely dry can go above the paper towel.
Bonus Tip:  Put a hole in the mason jar metal lid with a tack. Then put a piece of electrical tape over the hole. Finally, use a Ziploc vacuum pump to take the air out. Airtight ingredients last longer. Get your own by clicking here.



How Long Will A Salad In A Jar Keep?

Most layered Mason jar salads last 4-5 days. Your protein source helps determine how long they stay fresh.
  • Cooked meats like beef, poultry, and seafood keep fresh up to 4 days
  • Deli meats last up to 5 days
  • Hard-boiled eggs last up to 7 days
  • Whole cooked beans last up to 7 days

Containers For Salads In A Jar

Salads in a jar are usually pictured in quart size (32 oz.) wide mouth Mason jars with the dressing at the bottom.
If you avoid plastics for food storage, Mason jars are ideal. They are inexpensive and available at most major stores. You can order a set by clicking here.
If you prefer to carry your salad in something less breakable, Amazon has a wide range of plastic choices. Here is a great one, click here to find it. Here are a few options.

 

Another choice is this BPA free salad bowl from Amazon. It comes with a separate toppings tray and salad dressing container.

This is a pricier version, but if it is vitally important to make sure nothing ever touches at all, this is a great alternative.
Another way to ensure your dressing doesn't touch your salad is BNTO dressing containers. They fit down into your wide mouth Mason jar.
This is perfect for those who prefer to add the dressing right before eating.
Photo: Cuppow.com
For simplicity and frugality, you can’t beat a large mouth mason jar with a plastic lid or metal canning lid.

Both of these lids are reusable after careful washing by hand or in the dishwasher.
Bonus Tip: You can often find Mason jars for pocket change at your local thrift stores. Be sure to clean them well before using, and they'll be a great addition to your lunch prep.

How To Eat A Salad In A Jar:

One bite at a time… Ba-dum-bump. Seriously though, you have some options here too.
Eat right out of the jar. Leaving some room in the top of your jar allows you to shake and mix all your ingredients and eat from the jar.  Make sure to tamp down your layers as you go to remove oxygen between layers that can cause oxidation.
Another option is to bring a bowl or plate with you to pour your salad into and mix. This allows you to pack your airtight mason jar all the way to the top for an extra crispy salad.
Either way, you can then add any topping that wouldn’t stay as fresh like avocado or sliced strawberries.

Don't forget to pack a fork.
Below you’ll find 10 of my favorite low carb salads that are full of fiber, fat, and protein to keep you full longer. Once you get the hang of layering these salads, it is easy to get creative and make your own recipes.

1. Keto Taco Salad Perfected!

Lindsey / the little pine / via thelittlepine.com
Doesn't it look incredible? My mouth is watering looking at this picture.

Savory and filling low carb taco salads are a staple when you want to avoid the tortillas and chips.

Chicken or turkey can replace the beef here. Or you can make it vegan or vegetarian by using beans and rice instead of meat and cheese.
Also delicious with a healthy ranch-style dressing.

2. Creamy Lemon Dill Shrimp Salad

Brian Kavanagh / The Sophisticated Caveman / via Whole30.com
This amazing exclusive recipe from Whole30.com and is a winner.
Full of clean whole foods, it is as pretty as it is tasty. Buy precooked shrimp and Whole30 compliant dressing for an even easier salad in a jar.
Substitutions: For those allergic to shellfish, substitute chicken, cod, or salmon.
Vegans and vegetarians can use a vegan dressing and garbanzo beans.

3. Healthy Low- Carb Greek Salad Jar

Maya / Wholesome Yum / via wholesomeyum.com
I like to add the chopped purple onions to the dressing so they pickle in the dressing. This way they aren’t so hard on the tummy. I then keep the cherry tomatoes whole and add them after the cucumbers.
Like the taco salad,  this recipe pairs well with a healthy DIY ranch dressing if you want to change things up.

4. Chopped Cob Mason Jar Salad

Tammy / Organize Yourself Skinny / via organizeyourselfskinny.com
Tammy has a helpful video with her recipe that shows the layering of ingredients.

How do you keep those avocados green for 4 days? Spray or dip them in lime juice before adding to the jar.
You can also add the bacon to the top of the jar with a paper towel placed between it and the lettuce for extra crispness.

5. Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

Sabra / This Mom’s Menu / via thismomsmenu.com
This one makes my mouth water. I have a weakness for peanuts.

If you prefer to use almond butter and whole almonds or cashews instead it is still a tasty salad.


There are a few recipes on this page, so you may find another favorite among them.
Nut allergy? Use any clean nut free Asian dressing and you are good to go.

6. Spiralized Zucchini Caprese Salad in a Jar

Sarah / Live Eat Learn / via liveeatlearn.com
Don’t have a spiralizer? No problem! Dice up your zucchini instead. Also, this is a good example of a recipe where you can leave your cherry tomatoes whole for a longer lasting salad.
This fresh, healthy tasty salad is full of veggies and nutrition. If you aren’t a pesto fan. Try a vinaigrette instead. Delish!

7. Keto Mason Jar Salad With Italian Vinaigrette

Nicole / Kale Junkie / via kalejunkie.com
This recipe makes two mason jar salads. Loaded with cruciferous veggies this powerful salad lowers inflammation and fights cancer. Full of fiber and nutrients, and it's delightfully crunchy.

8. Garden Salad In a Jar

Melissa / Bless This Mess Please / via blessthismessplease.com
One of the easiest and most versatile Mason jar salads you can make is a regular ol’ side salad or garden salad.

Enjoy this salad when you want to eat more veggies, but aren't sure where to start. I like to throw any extra veggies I have in the fridge into this salad.


Also, great to keep in the fridge to add as a side salad to any meal or add leftovers from dinner for tomorrow’s lunch.
This next recipe comes from Melissa as well.

9. Mediterranean Salad In A Jar

Melissa / Bless This Mess Please / via blessthismessplease.com
This salad and the next has higher carbs because of the garbanzo beans. Although, a large amount of fiber in the beans and veggies helps offset the carb count.
Garbanzo beans are a good source of protein and fiber. They are also high in vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, zinc and manganese.
If you need to keep your carbs down for health reasons, you could substitute chicken for beans here.

10. Antipasto Italian Mason Jar Salad

Carly Paige / Fit Living Eats / via fitlivingeats.com
I love an antipasto salad loaded with Italian meats and cheeses. This clean version has all the flavor with none of the dairy or chemicals of deli meats. From Beth Ann: This type of salad is an old family favorite. We get a huge plate and stand around the table and toss all the ingredients layer by layer, and dig in as a tangy appetizer. I remember putting the olives on my fingers as a child and lots of laughs and happiness as a family.

11.Bonus: Keto Avocado Chocolate Chia Pudding In A Jar

Lauren Kelly / Lauren Kelly Nutrition / via laurenkellynutrition.com
Pre-made healthy desserts help keep me on track with clean eating. So, we are ending with an easy, healthy, on-the-go Mason jar dessert.
Perfect for when you want a little something sweet without the guilt.
To make this recipe easier and simpler, use these substitutes.
  • 2 Tbl of cocoa powder is chocolate-a-plenty, omit the unsweetened baking chocolate.
  • A good pinch of sea salt brings out the sweet and chocolate flavors.
  • No need to grind your chia seeds. Increase the amount to 1 Tbl and let your mini food processor or blender do the blending and grinding for you. Enjoy!

There You Have It! 11 Delicious Mason Jar Salads. What Now?

Making one of your meals a balanced clean salad makes a huge difference in your health.

A salad in a jar is an easy way to make this happen on the regular when time is short and your schedule is full.
There is a lot to keep track of in life and so many responsibilities to juggle. Preparing a weeks worth of salads is a simple way to make low carb, clean eating a daily habit.


You May Also Like: How To Have Healthy Snacks Ready To Go.


Do you eat salads every day? Have you tried making a salad in a jar? What are some of your tips and tricks for freshness and flavor?

Weight loss is a side effect of healthy living which makes healthy ways – shapely ways.
Thank you for being here. I look forward to any questions or comments you might have.
Xoxo,
April



Homeschool mom of 4 boys, April uses her love of teaching and learning to help women focus on new habits and a positive mindset to achieve lasting health and weight loss. She shares the tips and tricks she’s learned (and is still learning!) so women have practical tools and resources to work towards their healthiest self. As important she provides encouragement and a plan to get back on track when life doesn't go as planned. Connect with her at shapelyways.com




More from The Life of a Navy Nuke Wife:
Beth Ann
Beth Ann

Beth Ann is a mom to 3 crazy hooligans, and a wife to one (mostly absent against his will) sailor.

4 comments:

  1. Great information on the "how to". As I read this I was wondering how you would eat the salad and April included that as well. Thanks for including the "sweet treat ". When the cravings come that I will have to give that a try. So many choices. I'm going to pick two to start and go from there.

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  2. Thanks for the comment! Yes, this is such a helpful post. It's truly every question you can think of answered! :)

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  3. With all the times I've needed lunches out while eating clean, I had never heard of this option! How long will the salads last without vac-packing? I can't wait to try this. Thanks for the great article.

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    1. Hi Jean!

      I have made them ahead of time on Sunday for the week to Wednesday, and they've been fine! I usually don't purchase enough to make more than that. So I'm not sure.

      I go shopping on Sundays and Wednesdays, then prep on both of those days. :)

      Hope that helps!

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