My number one secret for eating dessert without dieting is eating a large salad in a jar every day for lunch.
Here’s why I, a reformed salad-hater, now love salad:
1. Limitless variations of dressing and add-ons
2. Gives wiggle room for small indulgences the rest of the day
3. Adds fiber and bulk to your diet
4. Fills me up with few calories
5. Gives lots of chewing satisfaction
6. Easy lifestyle change to implement and adopt forever–this is not a diet!!!!
Does it sound like a lot of work to prepare a salad everyday? Especially on a busy workday morning? Hang on!
I have devised a way to make salad for 7-9 days — at one time. My method takes less than 30 minutes (with a little bit of practice). It will stay crisp and fresh for more than a week.
Consider these benefits of storing salad in a jar.
2. No getting out the salad spinner every day to make a salad
3. On the run? Grab a jar and take it with you. Eat right out of the jar if necessary although I prefer a bowl or plate.
4. Save money–especially when you buy the lettuce in bulk from Sam’s or Costco. No more wasting money on prepackaged salads that often aren’t fresh the day you bring them home.
5. Glass jars are washable. Not only are you helping the environment, you are saving money.
My secret?? A vacuum-pack machine with a wide-mouth jar attachment. I have a FoodSaver brand but I’m sure other brands would also work if they have the right attachment. See this post for more advice on what to buy. Which Vacuum-Pack Machine Should I Buy to Make Salad in a Jar?
ADDENDUM: You don’t have to have a vacuum-pack machine. See these posts: How To Vacuum-Pack Salad in a Jar for Less Than $6 (Plus a Video) and Yes, You Can Use a Handheld Vacuum-Pack Machine to Seal Salad in a Jar
This will not work with the plastic bags and the vacuum. The lettuce would be completely squashed and bruised.
PLEASE NOTE: In my experience this technique does not work well with spinach or spring mix. I wish it did! See this post.
For a quick overview of the process, check out the video below.
* sharp knife (My favorite is a Wusthoff Santoku knife)
* chopping board
* salad spinner
* very large mixing bowl
* wide-mouth jar attachment
* clean quart-size Mason glass jars with lids
* vacuum pack machine
My favorite lettuce is Romaine –usually hearts of Romaine. Wash it well but leave intact.
Cut lengthwise through the entire head at least 4-5 times.
Now slice crosswise about 3/4 to 1 inch apart according to your preference.
Fill salad spinner and spin dry.
Dump into a very large bowl. Fill jars. I pack them as tight as possible.
Seal jars using a wide-mouth jar attachment and a vacuum-pack machine. Screw on rings as insurance to keep lid sealed. Refrigerate up to 1 week or even longer if your lettuce started out very fresh.
Addendum: Only one wide-mouth adapter is required. The round, white attachment you see below goes on top of each jar during the sealing process. First, you put the flat part of the lid on top of the jar. Then you place the wide mouth sealer that has been attached to your machine with the hose you see here (provided with attachment) on top of the jar. Hit the “canister” button. Remove the attachment, leaving the flat lid firmly attached to the jar. Screw collar part of jar lid over the sealed flat lid to insure the lid will not lose its seal over the next few days. Go to next jar and repeat these steps.
If you have a hand-held vacuum-pack device, see this post for more information.
Store jars in the refrigerator–up to 10 days depending on how fresh the lettuce was to begin with. These will be like gold when you are hungry and want something healthy but have no energy and/or time to prepare a salad. That would be every morning for me. (Preparing my lunch that is–I don’t eat salad for breakfast.)
When ready to eat, pop the lid and empty into a bowl or onto a plate. Add salad dressing, veggies/fruit/nuts and Fiber One (instead of croutons). Enjoy chewing.
ADDENDUM: I’ve had several questions regarding the necessity of a vacuum-pack machine. The secret to the success of salad in a jar is lack of oxygen. You must vacuum-pack to remove the oxygen. See this post for pictorial comparison of various methods of lettuce storage.
I like my salad in small pieces so I chop the lettuce with a knife. Without the vacuum-pack, the cut edges of the lettuce would be brown in a day or two or less. If you leave the lettuce whole, unchopped and untorn, it will last longer even without the vacuum pack. Wash, dry and store in zippered plastic bags with a paper or cloth towel to absorb the moisture. Of course, you can cut the lettuce when you are ready to eat but I like to have everything ready to go so I have NO EXCUSES for not eating a lettuce salad.
Many people have asked about adding other vegetables. This can be done but the shelf-life of the vegetables varies a lot compared to the lettuce. For example, while the lettuce may still be good for several days, the cucumbers you packed with it can go bad within 2-3 days depending on their freshness. I personally, stick to lettuce only and decide each morning what I will eat with it depending on my mood and availability of fruits and veggies. Commenter Rick did a study about this and posted his results here.
For more information about which vacuum-pack machine to buy and other details, see related posts below.
Looking for more ideas to make your diet healthier? Click here to see a few of my own personal skinny secrets.
The Lettuce Experiment
How to Make Salad in a Jar That Lasts a Week–a Video and FAQ
Which Vacuum-Pack Machine Should I Buy to Make Salad in a Jar?
Yes, You Can Use a Handheld Vacuum-Pack Machine to Seal Salad in a Jar
How To Vacuum-Pack Salad in a Jar for Less Than $6 (Plus a Video)
Is a Plastic Knife a Substitute for Vacuum-Packing Lettuce?
Can I Add Other Foods to My Vacuum-Packed Jar of Lettuce?
Salad in a Jar–5 Years Later