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From TV to table: Shark Tank inspired salad jars for the crafty college student

A creative and efficient way to meal prep salads for the week, salad jars save time and taste great.

My first exposure to the idea of salad jars was watching a YouTube clip of the company Simply Good Jars pitching their salad jars to the Sharks which originally aired during Season 12 in 2021.
My first exposure to the idea of salad jars was watching a YouTube clip of the company Simply Good Jars pitching their salad jars to the Sharks which originally aired during Season 12 in 2021.

One thing no one prepared me for in my adult life is how difficult it truly is to plan what I’m going to eat. Salad jar meal prep has become my go-to school and work lunch that I can count on to be quick and easy — and taste good enough to eat day after day. With endless customization and relatively efficient preparation, salad jars are my new favorite way to meal prep each week. Whether you’re trying to eat more greens or just looking to add some lunchtime excitement to your week, I highly recommend giving salad jars a try. 

I have been a huge fan of the hit ABC show Shark Tank for as long as I can remember and I am particularly captivated by food-based pitches. My first exposure to the idea of salad jars was watching a YouTube clip of the company Simply Good Jars pitching their salad jars to the Sharks which originally aired during Season 12 in 2021. The company’s whole premise was all about selling pre-prepared salads and other meals in airtight jars.  

Over the summer, while I was searching for easy meal prep ideas, I stumbled upon salad jars once again. This semester I have taken a deep dive into the art of salad jars — it has not only simplified eating healthy but also cut down on my weekly meal planning and prep. 

The concept of a salad jar is truly brilliant — every component in a salad is smartly layered in an easily stored jar that you shake up and tip over into a bowl when it’s time to eat. With dressing and protein on the bottom and leafy greens at the top, the salad does not get soggy while it sits in your refrigerator or lunch box and it’s easy to prepare an entire week at a time. Contrary to this basic setup, I prefer to use condiment containers for my dressing and I tend to eat my salad right out of the jar. 

I bought my jars on clearance at Wegmans, which are unfortunately no longer carried in their stores or online. However, a similar-sized jar is linked here and any jars you already have should be totally fine. I ordered colorful lids for mine since I find them easier to clean than the two-part lids Mason jars usually come with. 

Chicken & veggie salad jar recipe

Servings: 4 jars

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • Half a lime
  • 1 tbsp Goya Adobo seasoning
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 9oz can of corn
  • 1 9oz can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups spring mix
  • 8 tbsp Ranch dressing

Steps: 

  1. Chop the chicken breasts into one-inch pieces and place in a bowl. 
  2. Squeeze juice from half of a lime into the bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp Adobo seasoning. Mix to coat all chicken in seasoning. 
  3. Let chicken marinate for about 10 minutes while completing other ingredient preparation. You can marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator as well for stronger flavor.
  4. Drain the can of garbanzo beans with a strainer and rinse under water until no longer foaming. 
  5. Add the garbanzo beans to the basket of an air fryer or onto a lined baking sheet. Coat with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Air fry for 15 minutes at 370 degrees Fahrenheit or bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven. 
  6. In a small pot, place 4 eggs and fill with water until the eggs are just covered. Place over medium heat and allow eggs to boil for 10-12 minutes. 
  7. Fill a small bowl with enough water and ice to cover all 4 eggs. Once the eggs are done boiling, add them to the ice water and allow to cool completely then peel the shells off and set eggs aside. 
  8. Wash and chop the bell pepper then set aside in a bowl. 
  9. Strain the can of corn and set aside in a bowl. 
  10. On a skillet set over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add the chicken and cook until gently golden brown and an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. Place cooked chicken on a plate to cool. 
  11. Fill 4 condiment containers with 2 tbsp ranch dressing, or add 2 tbsp ranch dressing to the bottom of each jar. 
  12. Add about 100 g cooled, cooked chicken, 30 g cooled garbanzo beans, about ¼ the chopped bell pepper, 30 g corn, 1 boiled egg and 1 cup of spring mix to each jar. 
  13. Add one condiment container to the top of each jar, then screw on the lid.

These salad jars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. I like to prepare no more than four at a time so I ensure they don’t get funky before I eat them. The only criterion is that everything cooked has cooled to room temperature before adding to the jar. If you add hot chicken to a jar with cold vegetables, the condensation from the cooling chicken will cause your leafy greens to get soggy and go bad rather quickly. 

The order in which I add each ingredient to the jar follows an important layering scheme that allows the jars to stay fresh as long as possible. The basic template that should be followed for maximum freshness is condiment at the way bottom — or in a condiment container, whichever suits your needs — followed by meat, veggies, other mix-ins like beans and finally the salad greens at the way top, as far away from the meat and dressing as possible. 

This is just my basic weekly recipe, but the magic of salad jars is in their endless versatility. Vegetarians can substitute the meat for tofu or other protein-rich ingredients. Since you decide what goes into each jar, they are easily made vegan as well. For variety, I like to play around with the dressing I use. I have lately been loving the Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Ranch dressing but I also really love Trader Joe’s Green Goddess dressing. Making your own salad dressing is also very easy to do and there are plenty of recipes found online

All in all, salad jars have helped me eat healthier and simplify my weekly meal prep. Not only is the tasteful presentation of salad jars impressive, but they save time and money without sacrificing flavor. They are easy and fun to put together and I know I can always count on my salad jar to be fresh and delicious. 

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