Ok so there cannot be to many of you out there who have not seen a mason jar being repurposed into something other then what it was originally used for: canning. I am amazed at all the uses that people have come up with for these inexpensive, but incredibly versatile jars.
Recently I discovered salads in mason jars, and have been on a kick ever since. Living on a tight budget makes taking a lunch to work a requirement, but I didn’t always do so. I would come up with all kinds of reasons why I was not doing it, but then look back on the week and realize I had spent $40 plus on eating out everyday. In the area where I work, there is not a lot of choices and all cost about $10 to $13 for a meal. So being the Pintrest freak I am, I started paying attention to all these ideas I was seeing where I could prepare meals ahead and have ready for me to ‘grab and go’ as I leave for work. The salad in the jar really appealed to me.
I began my obsession by purchasing 2 inexpensive mason jars. Next when doing my weekly grocery shopping, I thought of how I would keep the variety of the salads interesting, so that I would not bore of them, and therefore stop making them.
I work off a tight weekly food budget for my family and I do shop for our bulk items at our local BJ’s. Because we eat mostly Vegetables, lean meats, dairy, buying those at membership stores in bulk leads to a lot of spoilage. So I was finding my grocery bill to be very high. Where I live these products are expensive, or they can be if you do not shop around, unfortunately with a 2 year old in hand when I shop, going from store to store to find the best deals is a chore I simply cannot get into. But I could do it once!
So I now travel an extra 8 minutes — and 2 towns over — to shop where the prices are considerably less due to the town the store is located in, sound crazy, but here in Connecticut prices of food can vary considerably from town to town. By making this extra effort I have been able to maintain buying my fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy saving myself anywhere from $150 to $200 a Month!!! CRAZY!! I know.
The game I created to help me keep my salads interesting is simple, if the fruit or vegetable is not on sale I do not buy it, this guarantee’s each week I am buying different items to fill my mason jar, sometime the same item says on sale for a few weeks so I certainly have some repeats, but mostly it keeps things interesting. Then I allow myself 1 “luxury” item, the luxury item has to be able to at least last 2 weeks worth of salads either by being able to cut it up and spread out such as a block of really beautiful cheese, or come already crumbled like blue cheese, or even nuts that I can chop up, or dried fruit I can divide up. Usually for me, because I love there salt briny flavor, is a container of pitted kalamata olives, these sell for $8.99 no matter what store I go to. However, I can make a container last 1 month, simply by slicing the olives in half. Lastly I use inexpensive fillers such as Garbanzo beans, or kidney beans to help stretch the salads farther and bolster up the protein factor for me.
I have been having so much fun with this concept. The other terrific thing about creating a salad this way is that you put the dressing at the bottom of the jar. When you are ready to eat your beautiful salad it just takes a quick shake of the jar your salad is perfectly dressed and never soggy! I HATE over dressed salads. I use 3-4 tablespoons of dressing in my jars. The possibilities are endless. You can create ANY type of salad you want, from Asian inspired, to French inspired, you name it and it can work. Just use the only rule there is to building your salad, dressing on the bottom, and build by first using the hardest or least likely vegetable to get mushy while sitting in the dressing, example carrots, or whole cherry tomatoes and then build up to your softest items like lettuce or noodles, etc.
Here is a GREAT Link to one of my Favorite blogs it is what inspired me to follow into the Mason Jar Phenomenon.
And for even more amazing Lunch ideas as well as Mason jar ideas follow us on Pintrest
The most important part is to have fun, get creative, and prep your veggies so you can build a salad quickly as you need it.