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5 Affordable Mason Jar Salads Under 500 Calories

5 Affordable Mason Jar Lunches Under 500 Calories
Photo Credit: Recipe Corner – Amanda Patton

We all know we should pack our lunches every day, instead of eating out. It's definitely the better choice for your health and your waistline. Bodily benefits aside, you can actually save a lot of money with this simple change in routine.

Recent research shows that people who eat lunch out every workday spend $2,500 each year. If that's not enough incentive to tote your lunch to the office, then we don't know what is.

It's true that packing your lunch does require some forethought, planning and effort, but there’s one tool that has made brown-bagging fun again: MASON JARS!

These perfectly portable containers never spill and, with a little ingredient layering, they keep your fruits and veggies from getting soggy. Just make sure to follow these three rules:

  • Always have leftovers at the ready. Rice, couscous, pasta, beans, lentils, and chicken are all great ingredients that add bulk and protein to mason jar salads. Double the portions that you make for tonight’s dinner so you have some leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  
  • Layer correctly to avoid a soggy salad. Always put the dressing at the bottom of the jar. Place hearty veggies that won’t soak up the dressing (such as carrots, cucumbers, beans, etc) at the bottom. Save delicate ingredients (like leafy greens, tomatoes, rice, pasta, etc) for the top section.
  • Assemble your jars in advance. At least for the RC crew, it’s much easier to make our salad-in-a-jar the night before work, so we can just grab-and-go the next morning. If we leave it until the last minute, we're more likely to forget or just say "screw it" because we're (always) running late.

Here are five mason jar salad recipes – one for every day of the week – that cost less than the average restaurant lunch. The fact that they’re all under 500 calories is just a bonus!

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Deconstructed California Roll - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Sushi has always been a lunch budget-buster… until now, thanks to this unrolled version of the very popular California Roll. Layers of seaweed, rice, crab, cucumber, and avocado create a magnificent salad that costs a fraction of what you would pay at a restaurant.

Cost per serving: $5.50 (ingredients only, not including mason jars)

Calories per serving: 375

 

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Chicken Taco Salad - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Even though we used all organic ingredients to make this salad, it still costs less per serving than Chipotle.

This is one of the tastiest, heartiest, and healthiest taco salads out there, thanks to the zesty avocado and goat cheese dressing, which is made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo.

Cost per serving: $6.00 (ingredients only, not including mason jars)

Calories per serving: 350

 

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Mediterranean Bean Salad - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

This mason jar meal is the perfect lunch solution for vegetarians. Israeli couscous, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, cucumber, and feta cheese are combined with a tangy lemon-garlic dressing - the final result is a slimming and flavor-packed salad.

Cost per serving: $4.70 (ingredients only, not including mason jars)

Calories per serving: 450

 

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Creamy Citrus Chicken and Orzo Salad - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Use last night’s leftover chicken and orzo to create this super simple salad. The secret to this recipe is the creamy citrus dressing made with Greek yogurt, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar.

Cost per serving: $4.50 (ingredients only, not including mason jars)

Calories per serving: 475

 

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Triple Berry and Nut Salad - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

This fruity salad features layers of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and almonds. A delicious dressing made with orange juice and honey adds a final touch of tart and sweet.

Cost per serving: $4.50 (ingredients only, not including mason jars)

Calories per serving: 350