The Lunch Bunch: Mason Jar Salads


The mason jar fad is pure genius. Not only have I found ways to use these as flower vases and décor for hosting events, but they have transformed my prepared food into chic little packages that make photos worthy of Pinterest (Who doesn’t love that?). Say goodbye to the days of simply using mason jars to can our jam and pickles, and hello to days of easy food prep and salads on the go!

I’m focusing on food prep this week with our Lunch Bunch because it can be one of the most difficult parts of our diet to tackle. Food prep needs to turn into a weekly habit, which means we need to constantly work to maintain it. It may seem easy to go day-by-day when life gets chaotic and disregard planning. However, by reflecting on this habit, we see that by NOT prepping we are actually taking MORE time from our daily routine and more money out of our pockets. These stacked salads are quick, simple and make up to five to last you through your workweek!

The secret to mason jar salads is in the layering. Chop your veggies and have these as the bottom layer. Vegetables and grains will absorb other favors and are least likely to get soggy. If you’re adding grains, like quinoa, couscous or wheat berries, these will also be near the bottom. Some hearty veggies or legumes to consider are diced cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, shredded carrots and edamame.

A good salad is always packed with lean protein for long-lasting energy. You can also layer beans, chickpeas or shredded chicken to this middle layer. Beware of tuna or chicken salad, especially if you like to use mayo (or vegenaise) if you are planning to prep more than two days of salad.

To top off your stacked salad, go for deep leafy greens (nutrient dense). Don’t be hesitant to pack these tightly as it will help keep your other ingredients in place. Lastly, if you’re feeling inspired or have berries on hand, finish your salad with nature’s fruit since they are the most delicate.

For my recipe this week, I came up with my own Lemon Asparagus & Basil Quinoa. These seasonal flavors are light, fresh, and packed with punch despite the simplicity. Delish. The quinoa salad is also very compatible with other flavors, so feel free to get creative and add other ingredients to your liking for the week ahead!

Lemon Asparagus & Basil Quinoa Stacked Salad

  • Grocery List:
    • Produce:
      • Fresh basil
      • 1 small bunch asparagus
      • 1-2 lemons
    • Pantry:
      • White quinoa
      • Extra virgin olive oil
      • Agave nectar
      • Salt
      • Pepper
    • Optional add-ins for stacked mason jar salad:
      • 1 bag spinach or dark, leafy greens
      • Cherry tomatoes
      • Chickpeas
      • Chicken



  • Dressing:
    • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp. agave nectar
    • ¼ tsp. ground pepper
    • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Salad:
    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 2 cups water
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 small bunch asparagus, baked & chopped
    • Juice of ¼ lemon
    • EVOO
    • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • In a small bowl or jar, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
  • Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes (or until water is absorbed) with lid on. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Once rinsed, lay asparagus on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil and lemon. Cook until tender and slightly browned, about 12 minutes. Once cool, chop into 1-2” inch pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, chopped basil and asparagus. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Layer your quinoa, chosen hearty vegetables, beans, protein and leafy greens and enjoy throughout the week.
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About Patty Duffey

Patty is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach in the Chicago area. She is Ohio bred and received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics at Miami of Ohio, while continuing on the following year to complete her Dietetic Internship at Mount Carmel Hospitals in Columbus. Upon becoming an RD, Patty made the remarkable decision to work abroad in Australia for one year. She loved the active and healthy culture, and it seemed that most Aussies shared a common view that is was better to be proactive as opposed to reactive when it came to health and wellbeing. She knew that the health and fitness industry was exactly where she wanted to be. Since moving to Chicago three years ago, Patty has gained experience as a dietitian and nutrition coach at both Life Time Fitness and My Fit Foods. Her goal is to continue to build her health coaching skills as a nutrition entrepreneur. She currently works at Lululemon and loves working for a company where she can bring fitness and nutrition together in such an inspiring environment!