Good Food in a Glass


Pack a Mason jar with a healthy on-the-go meal or snack.

With a schedule packed with work, training, races, and friends and family time, it’s tough to fit healthy meals into a busy day. All too often, it’s easier to grab a nutrition bar or (the horror!) stop by the drive-thru for a fast-food fix.

But with an investment of just a few minutes’ time and a few dollars’ worth of supplies, you can create your own ready-to-tote salads, snacks, and more. In just half an hour, you can make salad lunches for an entire week or enough snacks to keep you energized on any trek. Plus, they’re easy to pack in Mason jars (a.k.a. the cutest containers on the planet) for a result that’s easy on the eye as well as tasty and nutritious.

Use these recipes as a starting place, and in no time you’ll find yourself designing your own portable treats.

Salad in a Jar

Salads may look and sound appealing when you first pack them in a plastic container, but all too soon, crisp greens turn soggy, flavors blur together, and you’re left with a wilted (and less than delicious) mess. But by layering salad ingredients in a Mason jar, you can keep them optimally fresh until serving time—then all you need to do is shake to combine and serve with a fork.

No matter which salad recipe you choose, the layering process is the same. Add dressing first; then top with crunchy or dense ingredients (like shredded carrots, beans, or meat). Top with sturdy greens (like chopped romaine lettuce), and then finally add any delicate greens or fresh herbs.

Thai Cabbage Salad with Sesame-Lime Vinaigrette

Just the right size for a one-person lunch, this salad combines crisp veggies with tempting Thai flavors. For a heartier meal, add cooked diced chicken after the almonds and before the slaw mix.

  • Dressing: Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili-garlic paste (or your favorite hot sauce to taste)
  • Generous pinch each salt and black pepper
  • Salad: 1½ cups cabbage or broccoli coleslaw mix
  • 2 Tbsp matchstick-cut red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp slivered almonds

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a one-pint Mason jar. Add almonds; layer slaw mix and cilantro on top; chill. Shake thoroughly to serve.

Photo of The Black Bean and Corn Salad jar

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Whether you’re fixing lunches for the family or simply want to feed yourself well all week, this recipe fits the bill. It makes enough for four filling meals. As an added treat, include thinly sliced grilled steak—just a few pieces make a big flavor difference.

  • Dressing: 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Generous pinch salt
  • Salad: 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, cooked and drained, OR 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
  • Handful of baby spinach leaves

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl; divide among four one-pint Mason jars. Stir together beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and pepper; divide among jars. Top each jar with a generous handful of baby spinach; chill. Shake thoroughly to serve.

Super Snacks

Whether you’ve reached the summit of a technical trail or just need to stave off the 3:00 p.m. desk job doldrums, having a good snack on hand makes all the difference between finishing the day with a bang or a whimper. These high-protein, high-fiber treats will give you an energy boost without the sugar rush and ensuing crash.

photo of the herbed fried almonds jar

Herbed Fried Almonds

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups whole blanched almonds (preferably Marcona)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary OR 1 Tbsp dried herbs or mix
  • 2 tsp kosher or sea salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add almonds, herbs, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until almonds are golden and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Cool completely and pack into 8-ounce jelly jars.

photo of the Sweet and Spicy Trail Mix

Sweet and Spicy Trail Mix

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup green pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together coconut oil, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne. Combine pepitas, almonds, and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with coconut oil mixture; toss to coat. Spread nut mixture on baking sheet.

Bake, stirring several times, 30 to 35 minutes, until nuts are golden and caramelized. Allow to cool completely. Toss with cranberries and pack into 8-ounce jelly jars.

Tools of the Trade

Durable, reliable Mason jars offer foolproof storage for any meal or snack without potentially harmful plastics. They’re available in dozens of sizes and shapes; check out the Ball Heritage Collection ( for a colorful, stylish twist.

Turn any Mason jar into a flip-top dispenser with a reCAP Replacement Lid ( The BPA-free plastic cap makes it easy to shake out a serving of your favorite crunchy snack.

Keep your treats at a safe serving temperature with the freezable insulated PackIt Cooler ( Built-in gel packs eliminate bulk and mess while maintaining sub-40° temps for three hours or more.


About Author

Molly writes about fitness and nutrition from her home in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her teaching history, hiking the Gorge, or hitting the archery range.

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