Mason Jar Meals 101: How do I make a mason jar meal?

Mason Jar Meals 101

How to make mason jar meals using basic items.


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Are you interested in meal prep, but not sure where to start? Do you want to start eating healthier meals with kitchen supplies you already have? Want to learn more about the process before diving in? Then this blog post is for you! Here are some general guidelines to get you started, that come from many years of hands-on experience.



WHY MEAL PREP?

  • You can have healthy meals on hand for when you need them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Convenience - they can be enjoyed whenever, wherever. Home, work or even at the park. Just grab what you need each morning and off you go!

  • They allow you to focus on other things throughout the week.

  • The jars keep the food air tight, which extends their shelf life. Consuming fresh food means less preservatives. Our body stores preservatives as fat. Eating better and taking care of our digestive system has a positive effect on may things, including hair, skin, focus, energy, sleep and stress management.


WHY USE GLASS JARS?

  • They are BPA free.

  • Provides a good seal to keep food fresh longer, effectively reducing waste.

  • Easy to repurpose.

  • Can be completely recycled without the need for new glass.

  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.


MASON JAR MEAL PREP GENERAL TIPS

  • Avoid processed food, when possible. These can really deter your health and well-being goal.

  • Always clean your produce. If cleaning your produce in your sink, clean your sink before cleaning produce.

  • Use the dirty dozen list to guide your organic selection. Have your sink ready for dish washing so you can clean up as you go along.

  • Have a towel and dishrag ready at your prep area.

  • Have a bowl for food waste.

  • Have a bowl or container for trash.

  • Have a container for items that can be recycled.

  • Avoid processed food, when possible. These can really deter your health and well-being goal.


SUPPLIES TO MEAL PREP JAR MEALS

  • Jars in your preferred size. Pint and quart size jars work well.

  • Mason jars work well, but you can also repurpose jars from the items you purchase at the grocery store!

  • Lids for jars - I'm not a big fan of plastic, but these plastic lids last a long time and are dishwasher safe. They come in wide mouth and regular sizes.

  • Lids are another thing you could repurpose. Use lids from other containers. Just be sure to clean well so the flavors of the original item don't affect your mason jar meal. Use a solution with vinegar to clean and disinfect. Jars from peanut butter containers often fit mason jars well.

  • A fork or spoon can be handy for spreading layers evenly.

  • A canning funnel makes it easier to get the food into the jar and not all over the counter!You can keep an eye out for these at your local goodwill store or garage sales. Just be sure to sanitize well.


INGREDIENT PREP TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

  • Keep it simple! Don't try to make too many varieties at once.

  • Pick ingredients that can be used in two mason jar meal options or in one meal prep option and also as a snack. This also helps with the time needed to prep ingredients.

  • Cucumbers and tomatoes are standard salad staples and also make great snacks.

  • Cooked chicken can be used in a salad and in a warm jar.

  • Carrots, cauliflower and broccoli can be used raw in a salad or roasted in a warm mason jar meal.

  • Be cautious about store bought dressings. They can be packed with a lot of preservatives, sugar, salt and carbs. Read labels closely or make your own. You don't want your healthy efforts to go by the wayside because of the salad dressing!


HOW TO CREATE A MASON JAR MEAL

  • Layer, layer, layer!

  • Layering is key to keeping the food fresh and it has great eye appeal. We all know we eat with our eyes! Mason jars easily allow for layering, keeping the layers separated that need to be. Mason jars are an ideal size because you can easily fill all the way to the top, which reduces the amount of air in the container. The cherry on top is the airtight lid.

  • Use a spoon or measuring cup to put ingredients into your jar of choice.


JAR FILLING TIPS

  • Allow hot food to cool.

  • Pack the jar tightly to ensure as little air is in it as possible.

  • Drain, rinse and dry beans (if using).

  • A salad spinner works great to dry washed greens, herbs and berries.


SALAD JAR LAYERING ORDER

  • Dressing

  • Hard vegetables

  • Soft vegetables and fruit

  • Beans

  • Meat

  • Cheese

  • Grains

  • Nuts, seeds and dried fruit

  • Salad greens


WARM JAR LAYERING ORDER

  • Wet ingredients and sauce

  • Meat

  • Beans

  • Cooked vegetables

  • Cheese

  • Nuts, seeds and dried fruit

  • Grains and pasta



Short on time, but still want to give mason jar meals a try? Here are a few ideas to consider:


  • Hit the salad bar at your local grocery. You will save the time of cleaning and prepping the items.

  • Double or triple one of your dinner recipes on Sunday afternoon. Once the food has cooled, layer in the jars and you'll have a few lunch or dinner meals for the week.

  • Use a rotisserie chicken from your local deli in your meals. Please note rotisserie chicken is high in sodium.


I hope you found something here that you can use in your meal prepping process.


Cheers!

Brandi


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