Mason Jar Lunches

Hello again! 

Here we are, practically February!  Yikes!  That means it's been a month since I made my list of goals for the new year.  I'll admit I've not been very diligent, however I am mindful of my goals everyday.  After all, new habits don't form overnight--they take practice!  

At the end of my last post I mentioned that my next one would focus on planning and preparation to help us meet the goals we've set.  Well, one of the things that helps make my week more successful is having meals planned and prepped ahead of time.  If most of the work is done ahead of time that leaves me more time to work on the blog, go to the gym, enjoy the time Evan and I have together before and after work, etc.  I chose to tackle lunch prep for the week because lately I've been slackin' in the lunch department!  I make lunches for Evan and myself everyday and some days, who am I kidding, MOST days I just don't feel like it.  This week I thought I'd try out mason jar salads for lunch! 

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I really try to make lunches the night before so mornings are easier, but often I'm too exhausted after a long day and by the time we've made dinner, eaten dinner and cleaned up the last thing I feel like doing is making lunches.  Don't get me wrong, I actually really enjoy making lunch!  One of my favorite things to do is create healthy meals whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner!! I love everything about the process.  I'm constantly looking through cookbooks, food blogs, and Pinterest for new recipe ideas and compiling long lists of ingredients to take to the grocery store.  While I don't love the grocery store (I much prefer the farmers market but can't always make it), I DO love knowing exactly what's in my food.  So when I go I really enjoy taking my time to pick out fresh produce and read labels to make sure I'm getting the best ingredients without any extra weird stuff!  

Once I get home the prep begins!  I try to get everything as close to ready-to-use as possible so meals take less time to prepare and healthy snack options are available.  This week, however, I decided to take it a step further and make our lunches for the WHOLE WEEK ahead of time to maximize my time later on.  I'd seen the idea for mason jar meals a million times before and always wanted to make them because they looked like such a good idea.  Turns out they're a flippin' great idea!!  From start to finish they took a bit longer to put together than I expected, but I also grocery shopped, prepped ingredients and assembled them all in the same afternoon.  If you're going to try this I'd recommend splitting it up a bit!

 I consider myself a bit of a foodie.  Second to sweating in the gym, anything that involves food is my favorite thing!  Or maybe it's the other way around...?!  Who knows!  Point is, I don't just enjoy cooking or baking or even just eating.  I mean, I do very much enjoy all of those things, but what I really love about it is sharing it with others.  Simple as that!  I could spend all day reading food blog, after food blog, after cookbook, after food magazine, etc., and a whole day after that cooking/baking all the new recipes I found so that I can feed delicious treats to my friends and family!  

A part of what I love so much about making food for people is the presentation. I love the creativity and artistry behind it.  I hate when I make something and it looks ugly!  I can't stand it!  Even if it's going to taste the same.  It's fine if it's for me, but if it's for someone else forget it!! I'll make it again!  I won't even give Evan a sunny-side-up egg with a broken yolk!  Now, when it comes to making lunches that Evan and I can bring to work they don't need to be magazine worthy, but I would like for them to be healthy, nutrient dense, colorful, flavorful, contain few processed ingredients (because who doesn't love chips or pretzels once-in-a-while?!) and be more exciting than a sandwich!  Okay, I've made and packed many a sandwich for lunch and honestly I love a good sandwich, but I like to mix it up once-in-a-while!

So I found a handy little diagram on Pinterest and then just picked ingredients that we like and started building salads! Since I was going to be making multiple salads  it was easiest to choose recipes with similar ingredients.  This way I could prep everything and just build each salad at the same time varying ingredients a bit from one to another.  Evan and I both only worked four days this week so I only needed to make four salads and here's what I made!

Burrito Bowl: Pretty basic idea with tons of variations. I made ours with salsa, sweet potato, quinoa, red onion, cherry tomato, cilantro, avocado, lime and kale/romaine or whatever green leafy(s) you choose!  And if you're like Evan, you can add a little cheese and sour cream. ;)  We usually make our own "sour cream" with organic Greek yogurt mixed with chipotle Tabasco sauce.  A little tang, a little spice!  

Chickpea, Farro and Greens: I actually got this recipe from a food blog that I LOVE called Cookie and Kate.  Main ingredients are chickpeas, celery, red onion, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Oh and I topped mine off with Kalamata olives...YUM!

Chopped Black Bean and Corn: This one is very similar to the Burrito Bowl salad so I made sure we spaced them out a few days.  Salsa, red onion, black beans, corn, avocado, jalapeƱo and kale. I also packed some tortilla chips on the side for a little added crunch!

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Zucchini Noodle: I stumbled upon the recipe for this salad and I'm so glad I did because it was my favorite!  Quinoa, cilantro, coconut flakes, asparagus, peas, zucchini, scallions, feta cheese, and coconut-lime-avocado dressing.  Coconut-lime-avocado dressing, people!!! DE-LICIOUS! 

With everything prepped and ready in the fridge the rest of the lunch packing was a breeze!  This was seriously the easiest (and most delicious!!) week of lunches ever!  You don't even have to plan and prep different salads.  If you have left overs from dinner just divvy them up into jars and you're set! 

Ready to grab-and-go!!

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I even bought these cool labels at Hobby Lobby to stick on the lids so I can label and date our meals.

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I will definitely be doing this (or some version of it) again!!  I hope you've found this helpful and please feel free to share your ideas for other meals that would pack well in mason jars!  I'd love to hear them and I'm always up for trying something new!!  Happy lunching!!