This simple make-ahead Mason Jar Couscous Salad recipe will be your healthy savior at lunchtime on busy weekdays. Fresh greens, your choice of protein, and healthy couscous make this salad a real winner!
My mother is the Queen of Kitchen Simplicity. With three little ones, meal prep needed to be simple, delicious, customizable enough for a family of five, and preferably healthy. One of my fondest memories from childhood was helping my mother prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday evening for the five of us to take to school or work. Usually, we made a variety of sandwiches with my sisters and me sitting assembly-line style to assemble, pack, and sort into bins for the refrigerator. Getting involved in the meal planning and preparation was a wonderful lesson for us girls, and because we were part of the preparation process, we looked forward to taking our sandwiches for lunch, because we helped and this was the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Times have changed a bit, and my family prefers a little more variety than just sandwiches every week, so I try to find ways to change things up a bit while still taking my mother’s advice to heart and keeping things simple. These Mason Jar Couscous Salads are a perfect way to do just that. A pasta-based salad makes the lunches a little more filling than the traditional mason jar salad, and it takes only minutes to set up an assembly bar where each member of the family can create their own custom lunches for the week. Since the jars are filled with nutritious ingredients, it’s also a great way to get everyone a serving of vegetables without making them feel like they’re eating “just salad”.
It took just a few minutes to assemble the mason jar “salad bar” to make Chicken Ranch Couscous Salad and a Greek Couscous Salad. To keep things simple, feel free to use bottled dressing and buy the vegetables pre-diced at your grocery store. Leftover chicken breast, pre-cooked strips, or a chopped rotisserie chicken work great, but you may also substitute your protein of choice. I’ve included a recipe for an easy Greek dressing if you’d prefer to make that from scratch. My husband and daughter both helped pick out what went in our jars, and the grab-and-go convenience was perfect for another busy week!
- Universal Ingredients:
- 6 cups chopped greens of your choice
- 5 cups chopped, cooked chicken or protein of choice
- 8 oz Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions, then tossed with 1 tsp olive oil while still warm (this prevents sticking)
- Pint size mason jars or other similar-sized containers with a lid
- For Bacon Ranch Couscous Salad you will also need:
- 6 slices chopped crispy cooked bacon
- ranch dressing
- shredded cheese
- 1 medium diced tomato
- For Greek Couscous Salad you will also need:
- Greek Dressing (ingredients below)
- chopped kalamata olives
- crumbled feta cheese
- Greek Dressing:
- 1 clove finely minced garlic
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- If making the Greek dressing, place all ingredients into a half pint mason jar. Cover tightly, shake vigorously for 30 seconds, and then refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients, starting with the couscous since you can chop the vegetables while the couscous cooks. Allow the couscous to come to room temperature, or chill it, before assembling the jars.
- Set out your salad ingredients in the order in which they should be placed in the jars.
- Start with a tbsp or two of dressing in the bottom of your jar, then layer your protein, tomato or pepper, couscous, greens, then cheese and toppings.
- Cover the jars with the lids, label with names if needed, and place upright in the refrigerator up to a week.
- Grab one each morning for a filling and nutritious lunch!
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Make-Ahead Mason Jar Salads from SoFabFood Contributor, Mary from Goodie Godmother, as much as we do. If you love this simple make-ahead salad, be sure to visit our Salads Section for even more like it. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a single healthy recipe. For daily recipe inspiration, like us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, and stop by our Google+ Community to see all of the amazing recipes our community members are sharing. Enjoy!