Making your own breakfast, lunch dinner, or any meal for that matter, can be quite a rude awakening in college. I mean, making your own food is way better than dining hall food, except you have to take the time to prepare it. And you are a busy person—I get it. You are in a million and one clubs and have the social schedule of a Kardashian. You also would love nothing more than go to the expensive, fancy salad place and pick up something nice, but you and I both know how our wallets feel about that. 

So, mason jar salads basically need to become your best friend. Why a mason jar and not a container? Because my backpack will tell you balsamic dressing doesn't stay inside a regular container. Mason jars can be tossed around in your backpack all day long without any repercussions. Here are some tricks to and tips for creating some pretty awesome mason jar salads. 

1. First Layer: Dressing

vegetable, herb, spinach, salad dressing, vinaigrette
Rebecca Fu

This will keep your lettuce from getting soggy as well as other ingredients that will soak up the good juice.

2. Second Layer: Non-Porous Veggies/Nuts/Things

Hard or crunchy food that won't get soggy, such as carrots or almonds, are great for the next layer. It's also very important that you don't put a fruit or veggie of some sort that will be selfish and soak up all the dressing! Beware, quinoa loves to do this.

3. Now, Get Creative

Fill in the middle with whatever your heart desires! Fruits, veggies, hummus, cheese, grains, nuts, beans, croutons, avocado—the list goes on and on. You may fear that after a long day, your guac may be brown. But typically with a dressing that contains vinegar and a tightly sealed jar, your guac will stay fresh.

4. But Don't Get Too Creative

The great thing about mason jar salads is that typically the ingredients can withstand some time out of the fridge. BUT, not everything should go without being refrigerated for a long period of time. For example, tuna is yummy, but not when it's dinnertime and the tuna has been in your bag since your 8 am class. 

5. Cut Ingredients Into Small Pieces

vegetable, pepper, corn, cereal
Hailey Maher

Contrary to a normal salad bowl, the mouths of mason jars have a much smaller circumference. Chopped ingredients will come out of the jar much easier, and you won't have to worry about flicking a full-sized baby carrot onto your professor in class. Chopped ingredients will also make mixing up your layers much easier.

6. Use a Fork That's as Long as the Jar

That way you can reach all the way to the bottom and not have to stick your grubby hands down there to get that last chunk of avocado! Plastic is easy if you want to help kill the earth, but a real fork can do the heavy lifting. 

7. Leave Room for Lettuce

You will most likely get very excited putting various layers into your mason jar, but if you don't leave room for lettuce, what's the point? Unless you are just putting some leaves at the top for your aesthetic. To each their own.

Mason Jar salads make an easy meal prep and the combinations are endless. You have control over your ingredients and your dressing, so it can be tailored to your particular nutritional needs. Also, you can take out some of the stress your group project is giving you when you shake up your layers.