Meal prep series part 2: The magic of mason jars

Welcome to part 2 of my meal prep series!  I have so much to say about mason jars that it’s going to take an entire post.  I am not exaggerating when I say that my discovery of mason jars has been lifestyle-changing.  They are amazing!  A few reasons why:

  1. They are inexpensive.  We got our mason jars on Amazon for about a dollar each, including lids.  That’s similar to the price of those semi-disposable thin plastic containers you can get in the grocery store.  On the other hand, we have a nice-quality 20-piece plastic set we paid around $50 for.  So comparatively, the value in mason jars is awesome.
  2. They are easy to clean.  Since they are glass, it is fine to throw them in the dishwasher (just don’t actually throw them), but the large ones are also pretty simple to clean by hand.  An internet search yielded conflicting information about whether you are supposed to put the tops in the dishwasher, but I’ll just say that we do and have not had a problem so far in our top-top rack.
  3. They are versatile.  Mason jars can be used as food storage containers, cups, travel mugs, and vases.  They’re also just pretty!  Put a candle inside, wrap a ribbon around it, and you have a nice table centerpiece.
  4. They keep food so fresh.  Seriously, the recipes I will share with you are ones that I make on Sundays and are still perfect to eat on Friday.  I have even stored things like leftovers and some produce in jars in the fridge, and it is incredible how much longer things stay fresh with the glass and the tight seal.
Quart-sized jars in action.
Quart-sized jars in action.

Mason jars have been instrumental in reshaping how I have eaten breakfast and lunch over the past few months.  A disclaimer before I start sharing recipes: NONE of this has come out of my own brain.  I rely on the power of Google to help me find smart and creative food, health, and meal prep bloggers out there to tell me how to do this stuff.  Two of the many I have stumbled across and who are responsible for the recipes I am sharing in this post are Organize Yourself Skinny and Wholefully.  CTWM is in no way affiliated with either site, but I would urge you to check them out for more healthy recipe ideas.

Ready to make some overnight oatmeal!
Getting ready to make some overnight oatmeal!

My breakfast of choice has been overnight oatmeal.  The idea behind it is that you combine oats in a pint-sized jar with milk, yogurt, and other ingredients and let them sit in the fridge overnight (at least).  I am not really a person who loves to eat things cold – like cold pizza is garbage to me.  For some reason, cold oatmeal is just as comforting and delicious as hot.  Plus it’s quick to whip together, grab-and-go, and I swear they just get better as the week goes on and the ingredients steep together.  What I tend to do is make a plain oatmeal recipe for most days and then indulge in the chocolate peanut butter (!!!!) recipe in the link below on Fridays or other days when I know it’s going to be a rough one.  It’s my little gift to myself.  And now my gift to you.  You’re welcome!

8 Classic Overnight Oats Recipes You Should Try from Wholefully

How pretty is my lunch outside the jar??
Just as pretty outside the jar as in! (With a side of candy because duh.)

My lunches for the past few months have consisted of nothing but mason jar salads.  These were huge on the internet a few years ago, and I thought it was some weird hipster trend so I completely ignored them.  Well, I’m now a convert!  The basic principle is that you layer your ingredients strategically in the mason jars so that everything stays fresh and crispy for up to 5 or 6 days.  So for example, you put your dressing in the bottom, then include any wet ingredients or things that you want to marinate in the dressing (tomatoes are great), then thicker veggies (carrots, peppers, squash) that act as a barrier between the dressing and the more delicate things, then grains, then cheese and other protein, then nuts and seeds, then pack in greens.  They are incredibly versatile too – if there is an ingredient I don’t like, or I have feta in the fridge instead of goat cheese or quinoa instead of farro, it is really easy and tasty to swap things out, eliminate, or add.  Plus, these salads are SO PRETTY.  I sometimes just open my fridge and stare at them for a minute or two.  A meal-prepped fridge is my happy place these days!  Two of my very favorite mason jar salads are below.

Mason Jar Salad Recipe: Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Pasta, and Spinach

Greek Chicken Mason Jar Salad

So there you have it!  I hope mason jars can be a game changer for your family too.

Goo-goo ga-ga! My happy place!
I could look at this all day.

3 thoughts on “Meal prep series part 2: The magic of mason jars

  1. Mason jars ordered? Check. Recipes printed. Check. Ready to shop and meal prep this weekend? Check! Thanks Emily for the inspiration. 🙂


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