Healthy Mason Jar Meals for Your Next Picnic
Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash
Nowadays, it’s much better and healthier to spend time outdoors. It’s nice outside due to the warm summer weather in many places. And with many businesses and indoor recreational spaces being closed or having limited capacity due to the Covid19 pandemic, being in the outdoors is especially helpful!
Wherever you are, a great thing to do outside is to picnic. Besides the opportunity to get some vitamin D, which can help to strengthen your immune system, you’ll also have opportunities to exercise, spend time with loved ones, and/or relax. Picnic meals can include anything you want – sandwiches, fruit, veggies, BBQ, salads, etc. One summer, I went on a drive and picnic with my grandparents and they picked up fried chicken and potato salad from a grocery store deli on the way to the picnic place. It was SO yummy!
This article has some new ideas for packing a picnic lunch by using mason jar meals. Mason jar meals are very versatile! Meals in mason jars are also super-simple to prep ahead of time, mason jars can often contain an entire meal, meals can be eaten straight from the jar, and clean up just means that you screw the mason jar lid back on when you’re done eating.
Find Ball canning jars in our store here. These small jars are great for fruit and veggie dips.
MASON JAR PICNIC FOOD IDEAS
Salad in a Jar
Mason jars are perfect for green, leafy salads! You can use your preferred size of jar, from a medium 16-ounce one for a personal salad, or a 32-ounce mason jar that is good for a larger salad. When you are layering a salad in a jar, you want to make sure the heavier ingredients are at the bottom, with the lettuce at the very top. This is how you prevent the lettuce from wilting. Keep your dressing in a different container so the salad doesn’t get soggy before you can enjoy it.
Burrito ‘Bowl’ in a Mason Jar
You can also use a mason jar to add the ingredients of a burrito bowl, but use a jar instead of a regular food storage container. This just makes it more fun to eat, especially if you have kids at your picnic. You would layer it exactly how you would layer it in a bowl, with the rice and beans on the bottom, followed by your veggies, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and anything else you want to add to it.
Here are 4 ways you can prepare burrito bowls in your mason jars!
Fruits or Veggies
This is another simple way to use mason jars for storing your food items, but also to make it fun to eat. Fruits and veggies are good options for picnics when you are trying to eat healthier on your outing. You can combine your favorite fruits and veggies layered in smaller jars, then give out one jar to each person in your picnic. Another way to go is to store all veggies in one big jar, and all fruit in another. Then bring plates and ration them out to each person. With veggies, you can cut them into “sticks”, add a thicker dip or hummus at the bottom of the jar and stand the veggies sticks upright in the dip. Check out this link with images and instructions on how to do that.
You can also make fruit salad in a mason jar like this.
And if you want your veggies and/or fruit to stay separate from their dips, sauces, or dressings, you can try this recipe and ideas.
Cold Pasta and Veggies
Other salads also work well in a mason jar, including cold pasta salads. To make your pasta salad gluten-free, you can use quinoa, rice or gluten-free pasta as the main ingredient, with your choice of chopped veggies to add nutrition. For added flavor, include some parmesan cheese or some olive oil in the jar.
This pasta salad in a mason jar features greens for some extra nutrition and you can use gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta.
It might seem like potato salads are unhealthy types of salads for a picnic, but it can definitely be made more nutritious, depending on what you use! For example, you can make potato salad from sweet potatoes or even cauliflower instead of regular white potatoes. Or do a half and half recipe, with one half steamed cauliflower, the other half white potatoes. Some people enjoy using mashed avocado with just a very small amount of mayonnaise, which adds creaminess and a more distinct flavor to your potato salad. You can also add more nutrition to your salad by adding in some more veggies.
This is one of my favorite potato salad recipes! Plus, it's Whole30 compliant.
Zoodles are becoming popular because they resemble pasta noodles, without the carbs and gluten. Zoodles are made by taking zucchini and using a spiralizer or other appliance to turn it into long, thin pasta noodles. Once you make your noodles, you can then choose to either cook them in a pan to soften the zucchini, or you can leave them as-is and mix in any ingredients you want. A simple pasta can be made with some olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, or you can make your own alfredo or tomato sauce if you want more of a zoodle pasta salad. You may also want to simply add in other veggies with a vinaigrette dressing.
Try out this yummy mason jar zoodle salad here.
Corn and Cucumber Salad
This light salad takes you beyond just adding lettuce and veggies, and really gives you a lot to work with. It starts with a base of either greens or quinoa depending on how you want to go, then adds pieces of cucumber and some roasted corn. You can turn it into a full southwestern salad by adding in some tomato, onions, and bell peppers as well. A lighter dressing can be used on this salad, depending on your taste preferences. It makes a fun, light, refreshing salad that is lower in fat and calories. Leave off cheese and cream-based dressing to keep it on the healthier side.
This recipe is yummy! Instead of making it home, add it to your mason jars to eat for your picnic in the great outdoors.
Taco Salad in a Jar
Does your family really enjoy taco salads? If so, you can easily make this a low-carb food that is easy to bring on a picnic with you. The main difference between a traditional taco salad and one that is lower in carbs is that you won’t use a tostada shell or tortilla chips. Instead, you will only eat the filling. When adding the ingredients to a jar, start with the meat and cheese on the bottom, followed by an avocado or sour cream, and add the veggies on top. Lettuce should always be at the top so that it doesn’t wilt and get weighed down by the other ingredients. If you want more carbs with your taco salad in a mason jar, you can add corn chips.
Cucumber Dill Salad
This is a cold salad that is vegetarian-friendly and even works for low-carb, low-fat, and low-calorie diets. While there are some different recipes for cucumber salad, it mainly consists of sliced cucumbers, sour cream, some seasonings, and a sprinkling of dill. You can make it lighter by using low-fat or fat-free sour cream, or just reducing how much sour cream you use. Toss it all together and put it in a mason jar or food container.
This is a very fresh-tasting salad that’s perfect for summertime! Prepare this salad according to instructions and ahead of time and pack into mason jars for your picnic.
Some of these recipes above require refrigeration, so as you get ready for your picnic, make sure you add ice packs.
Have you ever had a mason jar meal or salad? What is your favorite?