4 healthy jar lunches to take to work

It’s no secret that packing your lunch for work is one of the best things you can do for both your pocketbook and your diet. But more often than not, just the mere thought of eating a sad, soggy salad at my desk drives me to spend money on pricey Postmates delivery instead. So in an effort to cut down on takeout lunches, I’ve been testing out some new meal ideas lately that are truly appealing, satisfying, and healthy. The beauty of these jar lunches is that they stay fresh way better than your standard Tupperware fare. With a salad for instance, the dressing stays at the bottom of the jar, but you can keep crunchy lettuce and other delicate greens at the top until you are ready to shake and serve. Or, with the Clean Cup of Noodles, you just add hot water when you are ready for a warm, comforting meal.

These jar lunches are great for the office, but also work well for travel. You can bring them along on a plane, and then just recycle the jar afterward if you prefer not to have to tote it around. Check out all four recipes below…

Clean Cup of Noodles

Clean Cup of Noodles

Who doesn’t feel a little nostalgic for the classic Cup Noodles? I used to eat these all the time as a teenager. But nowadays, the thought of freeze dried veggies and half my daily allotment of sodium in one serving doesn’t exactly sound as appealing. This clean version of a cup of noodles is delicious and satisfying without the scary additives.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cooked edamame beans (removed from their pods)
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup dry glass noodles (glass noodles are also called mung bean noodles; ramen or kelp noodles will also work)

For the homemade seasoning:

Clean Cup of Noodles in a jar

Instructions:

Layer all ingredients in a large mason jar in the order listed above, with the edamame at the bottom. When you are ready to eat, fill the jar with almost boiling water. Note: Unless you are using a heat-proof jar, be careful handling the jar after this, as it will be very hot. Let sit 10-15 minutes until cool enough to touch, replace the lid, and then give the jar a good shake. Uncap, give your cup of soup a stir, and enjoy!

Stir-fry Veggie Brown Rice Bowl in a Jar

Stirfry veggie brown rice bowl

This jar meal requires the most prep out of the four, but it’s one of my favorites. To make the prep worth it, you can also easily double or triple the recipe, cook all the veggies at once, and then divide your ingredients up into multiple jars to eat throughout the week. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • a handful of bok choy, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup snap peas, chopped
  • ½ cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
  • sriracha, to taste
  • a sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • sesame oil

Stirfry veggies and brown rice bowl

Instructions:

One at a time, sauté bok choy, bell pepper, snap peas, and broccoli in sesame oil, and set each aside. To assemble your jars, layer the soy sauce, rice, and veggies in the order listed above. Drizzle teriyaki and sriracha over your veggies, and then top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. If you plan to refrigerate first and reheat later, you may want to do so in another microwave-safe bowl.

Kale Protein Power Salad in a Jar

Kale Protein Power Salad

This salad is packed with leafy greens and protein and delivers a satisfying crunch. You can easily add other favorite veggies like shredded carrots and cucumbers, or sub in chickpeas or hummus for the chicken, for a vegetarian version (which is what I do).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vinaigrette or dressing of choice, or more to taste
  • ½ cup cooked edamame beans (removed from their pods)
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • a heaping handful of kale, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ avocado (optional)

Kale Protein Power Salad

Instructions:

Layer all ingredients except the avocado in a large mason jar in the order listed above, with the edamame at the bottom. Leave some room at the top of the jar so that you are able to shake or toss your salad before serving. Keeping the more perishable ingredients like the greens at the top of the jar (away from the dressing) will keep them fresh for hours. When you are ready to eat your salad, shake well to coat all of the ingredients with dressing. You can also choose to add chopped avocado on top right before serving (so that it will be as fresh as the rest of the ingredients).

Pesto Pasta Salad in a Jar

Pesto Pasta Salad in a jar

Pasta salad is another cold lunch favorite, and you can’t go wrong with this veggie-heavy version. This will keep well for several days in the fridge, so again—you can prep several and eat them throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup green beans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup small mozzarella balls
  • several basil leaves, torn
  • ¾ cup pasta, cooked
  • 2 Tbsp pesto, or more to taste

Pesto Pasta Salad in a jar

Instructions:

Layer all ingredients in a large mason jar in the order listed above, with the olive oil at the bottom. Leave some room at the top of the jar so that you are able to shake or toss your salad before serving, or otherwise you may want to transfer into another serving bowl to eat. Keeping the more perishable ingredients like the basil separate from the olive oil and pesto will help maintain freshness. When you are ready to eat, shake well to coat all of the ingredients with olive oil, and stir in the pesto. Enjoy!

Which one of these jar lunches are you going to try first?

I honestly love them all, so you can’t go wrong.

xo Ilana
Team LC

Photos: Valorie Darling Photography
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