Jars aren't just for picnics. They're earth-friendly containers for taking lunch or snacks to work!

Healthy Picnic Recipes in a Jar

Note: This is a guest post. I did not receive any compensation from the author’s company in exchange for publishing this article. 

Jars aren't just for picnics. They're earth-friendly containers for taking lunch or snacks to work!

Jars aren’t just for picnics. They’re eco-friendly containers for taking meals or snacks wherever you go!

It’s finally spring again! This beautiful season’s warmer temperatures and longer daylight bring bright thoughts of spending time outdoors — and what better way than with a picnic? It’s hard to think of a happier spring pastime than bundling up a bunch of food and blankets and heading to your backyard or a local park. But what foods should you pack? What are some easy, transportable ways to bring delicious, healthy meals on the go? Enter the mason jar. When you make a meal in a mason jar, it’s easy to grab in the car or throw in a backpack and bring to the beautiful outdoor space nearest you. To inspire you with healthy picnics in a jar for your next weekend getaway, here are some great recipes to try:

  • Veggies and Dip: Forget plastic bags and use a mason jar to pack the time-tested, beloved snack of fresh vegetables and dip (hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, etc.). Use this informative post from The Kitchn for inspiration!
  • Salads: There’s no limit to the type and style of salad you can mix together in a mason jar — just read this post from The Muse for proof! Whether it’s a vegan cobb salad, a Greek chickpea salad, or a curried lentil and kale blend, these recipes prove how simple and delightful a mason jar salad can be! Simply pour the dressing at the bottom, stacked with heftier ingredients, and add the lighter components (like leaf lettuce) at the top. Shake when you’re ready to eat, and everything combines beautifully!
  • 7-Layer Dip: Pack this classic party dip in a mason jar, and you’re halfway to a great picnic treat. Add your favorite chips to another jar, and you’re all set. For a recipe to get you started, head over to KristaandJess.com.
  • Sushi in a Jar: Love sushi? Try this version of deconstructed sushi in a jar, which involves rice, vegetables, vinegar, lime juice, pickled ginger and more.
  • Yogurt Parfaits: Combine some yogurt with fruit and granola in a jar, and you have a ready-to-go parfait whenever you want it! Here’s an example from Ezra Pound Cake.
  • Frittatas: Take a nod from My Living Nutrition and bake frittatas in jars! While this meal takes a little prep work and a half hour of baking time, it yields six ready-to-enjoy egg bakes stuffed with vegetables and pastured meat.
  • Casseroles: A little like frittatas, baked casseroles are wonderful meals to make in mason jars. Simply portion your casserole mixture into jars and bake as normal, checking for doneness earlier than you usually would.

Even the above list doesn’t include all the many ways to make meals in mason jars. There are also mini pies, fruit cobblers, cheesecakes and more! What are some of your favorite picnic foods? Could you transport them via mason jars? Why not give it a shot this season?

About the author:

Steven Musumeche, owner of Picnic World Picnic Baskets, is an avid outdoorsman and picnic guru from Lafayette, LA. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the piano, fishing, camping, and hanging out with his wife, daughter and three pet beagles, Cassie, Ellie & Annie.

Watermelon Salad

Tangy Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

One of my favorite foods to eat during the summer is watermelon.  It’s refreshing, hydrating, nutritious, and oh-so delicious!  This savory-sweet recipe is another way to enjoy nature’s treat that beats summer heat.

Recipe for Tangy Watermelon Salad

3 pounds cubed watermelon (6-7 heaping cups)

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Herbs de Provence, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, tightly packed

4 heaping tablespoons chopped/crumbled feta cheese

Place watermelon in large bowl or separate into serving bowls.  Drizzle white balsamic over watermelon.  It’s important that you cover as much watermelon as possible, as the balsamic will soak directly into the fruit, so use something that allows you more control for pouring.  Add spices and mix gently.  Sprinkle feta and mint on top.  Don’t mix at this point as feta and mint tend to fall to the bottom.

Just add olive oil and you’ve got watermelon vinaigrette!

Important note:  This recipe doesn’t keep well so eat it right away!  It will still taste yummy, but the lake of liquid that forms in the container and the darkening of the watermelon doesn’t make for a nice presentation.  If you do find yourself in that situation–and how do you think I know about this?–there is an upside.  Drain the liquid into a glass jar, add some olive oil, and you’ve got homemade watermelon vinaigrette!  It’s a nice dressing on mixed greens, and imparts all the flavors of the recipe.

coleslaw

Napa Coleslaw

The name of this cabbage got me imagining the picturesque landscape of Napa Valley, where I would be picnicking, sipping some locally produced wine and nibbling on artisanal cheeses.  I think this Napa Coleslaw recipe is a different, and I’d like to say elegant, twist on traditional coleslaw that would be worthy of such a beautiful place.

Using napa cabbage instead of red or green cabbage yields a coleslaw that is both crunchy (expected) and tender (unexpected).  I added carrots for a touch of sweetness, mustard for a little zing, and Herbes de Provence–a mixture of culinary lavender, basil, fennel, rosemary, savory, and thyme–to class it up for our Napa Valley picnic.  Or backyard barbecue.  Or wherever.   Instead of store-bought, I prepared homemade mayo to use in the dressing, which is really quick and easy to make.

I didn’t use the entire head of cabbage; I took off the leaves layer by layer until it reached the point that you could eat the leaves in 2-3 bites.  I used those remaining leaves as “spoons” to eat leftovers such as chicken stir-fry with veggies and rice.  If you use the whole head of napa, adjust the dressing accordingly.  Using the full amount of mayo in the recipe definitely coats the slaw, so if you like a lighter dose of dressing, use the lesser suggested amount.  If you don’t plan on using this entire recipe at one time, only add the mayo and mustard to the amount you plan on eating, as the dressing tends to get a little runny on the leftover slaw.

The leaves in the colander are for the recipe, the rest of the head I used as "spoons" for leftovers

Recipe for Napa Coleslaw

1 medium to large head of napa cabbage (leaves pulled off, washed and dried) – Don’t trim the bottoms yet so you have something to hold on to while you slice them

2 cups coarsely grated carrots

6-8 tablespoons mayonnaise (click here for homemade version)

2 heaping teaspoons yellow mustard

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence – Either use one that has a grinder attached (like the ones on salt and pepper) or carefully chop it up a bit (watch out, the rosemary tends to want to spring up and off the cutting board)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

Napa cabbage cut into thin strips

Stack several cabbage leaves on top of one another.  Slice the leaves, horizontally, into thin strips.  Combine cabbage and carrots in an oversize bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together mayo and mustard.  Add a couple spoonfuls of mayo dressing at a time to cabbage and carrots, mixing with tongs, until slaw is thoroughly coated.  Add Herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper, and mix.  Taste and add more spices if necessary.  I added a light sprinkling more of sea salt and another ¼ teaspoon Herbes de Provence.

Hope you enjoy your classy coleslaw! 🙂

summer salad

Summer Strawberry Salad

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

I’ve been eating a lot of salad recently.  Hot weather–and wearing less clothing in such weather–gets me craving light foods.  In order to keep up my interest in leafy salad greens, I try to maintain a steady, creative stream of salad combination ideas.  This particular time, I wanted something a little savory, a little sweet, and loaded with goodies.  Behold, the Summer Strawberry Salad!  Some of you might be surprised by the inclusion of strawberries, but these beauties pair wonderfully with the rest of the ingredients and give the salad a sweet brightness.

Since this is more of a freestyle recipe, I’ll list the ingredients I used with no amounts.  I encourage you to get creative with nature’s summer bounty!

Recipe

Organic mixed salad greens – I used baby spinach here.

Chicken apple sausage, sliced – I wanted to add a protein and this is all I had on hand.  Worked well, but the salad would be fine without it.

Organic strawberries, sliced – Get organic because conventional ones have high levels of pesticides.

Raw Maytag blue cheese, coarsely chopped

Pecans

Fresh mint, chopped

Dressing

Basalmic vinegar – I used lavender basalmic from Pelindaba (on my list of fave sites on homepage).

Olive oil – I used a Meyer lemon-infused oil.  Squeezing a wedge of lemon into the mix would probably work.

Sprinkling of coarse sea salt

Freshly ground pepper


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Wheat Berry Salad

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I’d been craving a wheat berry salad ever since a friend let me taste some she bought from Whole Foods for a picnic.  I was obsessed with the chewy texture, the marriage of sweetness and tang, and the mélange of ingredients joining together to form a perfect union.

The only thing that bothered me was the canola oil they used, and I was almost certain the dried cranberries were soaked in canola and sugar, as they usually are.  I decided to recreate this dish on my own, and make a version with dried cherries–unsulphured, no canola or sugar–feta cheese, fresh mint, and a light dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.  At the last minute, I threw in two pinches of red pepper flakes, which gave the salad a nice little kick.  But you could certainly go sans heat without any negative consequences to the flavor.

Let this recipe rest for at least an hour before serving, although I think it reaches its full potential if you can let the flavors mingle overnight in the fridge.  This salad could work as one of many sides–at a picnic or backyard get-together–or play a more substantial role as a meal by throwing in some type of protein.

Wheat Berry Salad

makes 4-6 small side servings

2 cups soft wheat berries, cooked

½ cup fresh mint, chopped

½ cup dried cherries (unsulphured, no sugar), chopped

½ cup feta cheese, chopped

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 pinches sea salt

1-2 pinches red pepper flakes (or use black pepper)

Measure out wheat berries and put into medium bowl.  Add mint, cherries, and feta.  In separate small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil.  Add dressing to other ingredients, sprinkle with salt and red pepper, and mix gently but thoroughly.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

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