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How to Meal Prep for a Week Using Mason Jars

February 08, 2021 6 min read

4 mason jars filled with pre-prepped lunches.

We all like the idea of making our families healthy meals, saving money and doing our part to cut down on waste.

But we also like the idea of getting a good night’s sleep, not having a huge mess to clean up in the kitchen after dinner and — just maybe — having time to watch a bit of Netflix or read a book.

Meal prepping with Mason jars is a strategy you can use to accomplish all of these goals while making your life easier at the same time. It’s a win-win-win because your family will love having good-tasting and good-for-you food ready no matter what their schedule looks like that day.

Think of it this way: Attempting to prepare 21 meals each week usually means you’re in the kitchen 21 times. That’s a whole lot of cutting veggies, wiping down counters, washing pans, boiling noodles, whisking eggs, chopping nuts, grating cheese and on and on and on.


It means devoting a few hours on a Sunday to a well-planned cooking spree. If you have little ones, maybe that can be their special movie time. Or maybe grandparents can even watch them for a few hours.

You can then fire up your favorite podcast and get to prepping. Is a glass of wine a terrible idea? Go for it!

You cook everything, put it in the fridge and clean up ONCE. Even better, you don’t find yourself making constant last-minute trips to the grocery store or throwing a tray of chicken nuggets in the oven because you have no better plan.

Here’s how to get the job done.

Meal Prepping for Beginners

There are a lot of different ways to tackle meal prepping with Mason jars, including: 

  • Choosing just one or two meals to prep for each day of the week. For example, if you know your entire family will be around at dinnertime every night, it may not make sense to pull out individual Mason jars to be reheated. If you have larger storage containers, use those — or consider investing in half-gallon or gallon-sized Mason jars.
  • Preparing side dishes only. If you’re the type who likes to throw salmon on the grill or roast a chicken for dinner, then you might be better off just prepping your sides.
  • Snacking on smoothies. You could also decide to include snacks in your prepping — and nothing makes a better snack (or breakfast or lunch) than a smoothie. If that sounds good, check out this guide.
  • No matter what route you decide to go, it’s important that you get your food layering right, especially when making salads. You can find a whole post on layering here, but the general rule of thumb is to put liquids/dressings at the bottom of the jar, followed by fresh fruit and watery vegetables. Then, you put in “dry” vegetables like broccoli or carrots that act as a bridge. Next up are foods that absorb moisture like quinoa, mushrooms and pasta. That’s followed by proteins like chicken or cheese. Finally, on the very top, you put the stuff you don’t want to get soggy like lettuce, seeds, herbs, nuts and dried fruit.

Shopping and Meal Planning Tips

Meal prepping for a week is easy IF you take the time to make a proper shopping list. In fact, it’s fair to say the success of your entire operation hinges on effort you put into reviewing recipes and making your list.

In an ideal world, the process would look like this:

  1. Clean fridge, making room for a week’s worth of ingredients to be turned into a week’s worth of Mason jars.
  2. Make a list of all the meals you plan to make and gather your recipes.
  3. Prepare your shopping list, making sure to double check that you’re not running low on staples (like olive oil or pasta) that you just assume you have.
  4. Go to the store.
  5. Begin meal prepping.
  6. Labeling is optional, but generally a good idea. Devise your own system or use reusable chalkboard labels like these.

Meal Planning Recipes

Now for the good part — the actual recipes. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

4 16oz wide mouth mason jars fitted with JarJackets silicone sleeves sit on a kitchen countertop. A wooden cutting board sits beneath one jar. Chopped red pepper and snap peas also sits on the cutting board. All 4 jars are filled with a farro salad and vegetables.
  • Thai Farro Crunch Salad is a great make-ahead meal filled with veggies that can really stand up to several days in the fridge. Combine cooked farro with chopped broccoli, carrots, snap peas, bell pepper, green onion, mint, and unsalted peanuts. Toss with a dressing of lime juice, olive oil, peanut butter, agave nectar and salt. Full printable recipe below.
  • Pesto Bowtie Pasta Salad requires only 2 cups farfalle pasta, 1 cup broccoli florets, ½ a medium bell pepper (julienned) and 1/3 cup pesto. Simply boil the pasta according to directions and, in the last two minutes, add the veggies. Drain, stir in the pesto and separate into Mason jars. Refrigerate until serving.
  • Layered Pho to Go is a fantastic way to enjoy your favorite Vietnamese classic to warm you up on a cold day. Layer noodles, shrimp, cabbage, carrots, basil, chives and ginger in a 24 oz mason jar (in that order). Store in fridge for up to 1 week. When ready to enjoy, heat approximately 2 cups of vegetable or fish stock and pour over jar.
  • Lemon Dijon Quinoa Salad is as zingy as it is hearty. Mix together dressing ingredients (juice of 1 small lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey, and 1/4 tsp sea salt) and pour in the bottom of a 24oz jar. Layer on top 2 cups cooked quinoa, 1 medium bell pepper - finely chopped, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, and 1 cup greens of choice (pea shoots, arugula, parsley, kale). Store in fridge for up to one week. When ready to serve, shake to combine or dump contents of jar into a large bowl.
  • Cranberry Almond Brussels Sprout Salad offers just the right balance of flavors and textures. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Pour mixture in the bottom of your Mason jars. Next add 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, followed by 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts, ½ cup dried cranberries and 1/3 cup sliced almonds. Refrigerate until serving. Shake to combine.
  • This Quinoa Power Bowl is a breeze to make — and a delight to eat. First, cook 1 cup dry quinoa according to the package directions. Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat for two minutes. Add ½ cup sliced carrots, 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper and ½ teaspoon minced garlic to the pan. Sauté for five minutes uncovered. Add two tablespoons pine nuts to the pan. Continue to cook an additional three minutes. Stir in 4 cups chopped kale and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Turn off heat and allow the kale to wilt for 3-5 minutes. Divide cooked quinoa into two jars. Top with kale mixture and avocado slices from one avocado. Refrigerate until serving.

Meals to Go with JarJackets

JarJackets are silicone sleeves that slip right over your Mason jars, making them perfect to enjoy at home or take on the road. You could even take your lunch on a hike with the help of these guys.

Not only do they look super-cute, but they protect your glass jars from the inevitable slips and bumps that life brings. Plus, they’re microwave and dishwasher safe.

The Ultimate Meal-Prepping Mom or Dad

Imagine your son being on his way to soccer practice at 4:30 p.m. and he’s hungry. Or you have 10 minutes between Zoom meetings. Or your spouse is home for lunch and is hungry.

All anyone has to do is open the fridge and reach for a healthy, delicious meal. And all it took you was a few hours on a Sunday that, hopefully, were far more pleasant than rushing to throw something together after a long day of work.

That’s what you can do when meal prepping with Mason jars.

Now go put your feet up, turn on some Netflix and treat yourself to this chocolate-covered raspberry mug cake.

Because there’s nothing that you and Mason jars can’t do together.

Get the Guide

Grab our FREE downloadable PDF recipe guide chock full of great make-ahead meals you can use with mason jars via the link below.



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