Interested in highly portable salads that are easy to make-ahead? Then you should make salad in a jar. It’s quick, easy and makes a fantastic lunch.

Salad in a jar is a simple concept. The ingredients for a salad are layered in a particular order in a jar and then chilled until ready to eat or take. Then, usually, they are spilled into a bowl and enjoyed.

Seems simple, right? And it is — sort of. But it’s key that when making salad in a jar, you know a couple of important points.

Always put the dressing first

The dressing — ranch, vinaigrette, whatever — always goes first. Why? Because that way it settles at the bottom of the jar and doesn’t cause other ingredients to wilt or soften.

Next comes the protein and vegetables

If you are meal prepping your salads in a jar to eat over the next few days, you will want to place the sturdiest ingredients closest to the dressing. These include proteins like chicken and garbanzo beans and sturdy vegetables like peppers or carrots.

If you will consume your salad in a jar in the next day or two, it’s okay to put vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and onions closer to the dressing though. Also, you might like how the dressing interacts with these veggies (you’ll see that I put tomatoes in the dressing for the salad in the jar — I love the flavor they get after sitting in vinaigrette).

If you are using fruit in your salad, this should be layered in after the proteins and veggies.

Now comes most of the other toppings

If you are using cheese, nuts or seeds on your salad, they should be layered in next, after the protein and veggies. If you plan to include croutons, for instance, though, you’ll want to pack them separately. Bready ingredients like that will get soft in the jar.

Lettuce goes last

The very last thing to stuff into your jar is the lettuce or whatever greens you are using in your salad. Why? Because they will wilt quickly — and the salad won’t taste good as a result.

It’s absolutely key to make sure you’ve added enough layers that the lettuce cannot touch the dressing.

Be careful during transport

For best results, you’ll want to make sure that you keep your salad in a jar upright during transport to avoid mixing the ingredients prematurely. And for lunch box safety, always include an ice pack in the lunch bag.

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