Meals On the Go: Salad In A Jar and Juice Plus!

Sometimes you find exactly what you are looking for in the place you’re least expecting it.  I have been thinking a lot lately about meal planning and how to make sure my family and I are eating well even though we are often times on the go.  I have been gathering ideas from friends, fellow bloggers, and various websites and I even made a list of meals that I could make ahead for the week.  Of course, I haven’t actually taken any action to make those meals or really prep much of anything…until now.

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This week I was invited to a friends house for a “Salad In A Jar Party”.  The E-Vite also indicated there would be information shared about Juice Plus along with a demo of the products.  I knew nothing about Juice Plus and the idea of a party based around salads in jars was honesty hilarious to me.  What will they think of next?!?!  However, this party was an opportunity for my kids to play with lots of other kids, me to get out of my house for a few hours, and a chance to meet some new gals that live nearby so I figured what the hell…I’ll go.  Everyone is selling something right?

Well yes, everyone IS selling something…and I’m buying!  Despite the fact that we arrived to the party late, my usually happy go lucky baby girl screamed the entire time, and I didn’t stop at an ATM so I had no cash for said party, I am so glad I went!  I left with two new ideas for healthy meals on the go that I am actually starting to use!

When I arrived at the party, I realized that my friend had spent hours chopping up a billion different types of salad ingredients the night before AND went out and bought mason jars just so that we could have the opportunity to make our own salads in a jar to take home.  They were $5 each which was totally reasonable to me considering I had nothing ready for my lunch when I got home AND based on the fact that she had put all that time in preparing things.  Suddenly this idea seemed pretty cool.  Not to mention, the spread looked great AND healthy!  Needless to say, since I had no cash on hand, I put in an IOU for $10 with my friend for the two salads I ended up leaving with.  The one that I ate for lunch was YUMMY!

The key to making the salads in a jar is to put your dressing on the bottom.  Then, layer your ingredients starting with the most crunchy, thicker vegetables (like carrots, peppers, and radishes).  These crunchier vegetables will absorb some of the dressing making them a bit softer AND the dressing won’t get absorbed by other add-ins, for example egg, feta cheese, couscous, or most importantly, your lettuce so it stays crunchy.  The possibilities are endless with these salads.  Put in as many or as few vegetables and add-ins as you like.

This large jar that I made at home has dressing, carrots, radishes, peppers, beets, red beans, walnuts, feta, and lettuce.

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The smaller jar, which is one I made at the party, has dressing, carrots, peppers, green beans, black beans, feta, sesame seeds, couscous, mushrooms, egg, and lettuce.

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You can use mason jars of any size or air tight containers to make these.

Size comparison of the large vs. smaller mason jar

Size comparison of the large vs. smaller mason jar

On top of the salads, there was an informal presentation about healthy eating habits, healthy foods on the go, snacks ideas for the kids, and Juice Plus.  I was intrigued by the Juice Plus talk and after trying a smoothie made with Juice Plus Complete Shake Mix, I was done for.  This thing was amazing!  It was made of Juice Plus Complete French Vanilla Shake Mix, a banana, a large scoop of peanut butter, and chocolate soy milk.  O.M.G. SO GOOD!  I got a few sample packets to take home and made the smoothies for my husband and I for breakfast the next morning.  He agreed…O.M.G. AMAZING!  The cherry on top was that I wasn’t feeling hungry an hour later like I have in the past after having a smoothie as a meal replacement.  It was actually filling!  It carried me right to lunch time which was awesome PLUS the shake mix is protein packed which, as a distance runner, I love!

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So it turns out going to what I thought would be a silly party was exactly what I needed to kick myself in the butt and take some action.  I’ve already prepped three more big salads in jars for my family and even gave one to my Mom to pass on this great idea.  I figure on days that I am out and about with the kids for hours, I can pack myself one of these salads and have a healthy, convenient lunch on the go.  On nights that I’m thinking…

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… I can pour out one of the salads and voila, one part of our meal is ready to go!

The Juice Plus smoothies are definitely becoming part of my life as well.  I am going to try them out as a meal replacement option (most likely for breakfast or lunch) a couple of days a week when I’m feeling rushed.  I work every Monday and love to have time with the kids before I leave, so I’ll plan to whip up a smoothie on Mondays so I can take it with me and drink it on the ride to work which means more time with the kids before I leave.  Perfect!  Also, I want to try them out post long runs to see how they work for recovery.  I’m always looking for new options!

What kinds of meals or snacks do you make in a jar?

Do you have any great recipes to share with me?

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