A Picnic in Mason Jars

A Picnic in Mason Jars

By Patricia Miller

Summer’s longer days and warm weather is a perfect time to go exploring.   For some family’s, the challenge is having summer fun without breaking the bank.  Taking a family out for the day and then feeding them can get very expensive.

Fortunately,  Summer is also the perfect time to celebrate the weather with a picnic, or two.   I love picnics, but sometimes things don’t go as planned.  Has anyone else ever had the experience of pulling out the cooler only to discover that the ice has melted and seeped into the cookies or that the food has shifted and the sandwiches are smashed beyond recognition?  Soggy cookies and smashed sandwiches are not usually well received, so in spite of your best efforts to save money, you end up running to a fast food place to buy lunch.

We have the perfect solution to prevent these disasters.  All of these recipes, because they are made and stored in mason jars, are resistant  to the onslaught of melting ice (unless you forgot to tighten the lids).     They are delicious, filling, and light.  Perfect for a quiet picnic on a warm summer day.

Here are some of our favorite picnic foods packed in mason jars.

SALADS

Mixed Salads in a jar

Mixed Salads in a jar

Mason jar salads are not a new thing, but the concept is so versatile that you can create almost any combination of flavors.  Pint sized jars are perfect for people with smaller appetites while the quart sized jars are great for those who prefer to eat more.  The best thing about these mason jar salads is that you can make them several days ahead and store them in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.  That way, you have them ready to grab on a moments notice before you head out the door to explore.     (Click on the titles below for the recipes.)

Chinese Chicken Salad:  All this delicious entree salad salad needs is a few crunchy chow mein noodles in a bag on the side to make a perfect picnic lunch or dinner.

Antipasto Salad:  This salad is loaded with protein and rich flavors.  Pack a bottle of wine and some crusty Italian bread, and you don’t need anything more.

Chef’s Salad:  The chef’s salad is a classic and packing it into a mason jar allows you to have a very portable entree salad.

Taco Salad:  This salad is vegetarian, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s loaded with flavor and protein from the addition of beans.    Using salsa for a dressing helps to save some calories to keep your body lean.   A side of tortilla chips adds extra crunch to this salad.

Salads in a jar are extremely versatile and the combinations are endless, once you’ve made a few of them, you’ll be able to create your own unique salad combinations.

SIDES

What if you don’t want to eat an entree salad on your picnic?  You can still bring along meat to grill.  Except for the most hard-core carnivores, you will still need something to eat as a side, right?

I know that you can throw vegetables on the grill, but what if you want something cool as an accompaniment.  Here are a few sides that we have packed into mason jars.

Mixed Melon in a Jar

Mixed Melon in a Jar

Mixed Melon Salad:  Everyone has seen the salad made from mixed watermelon, honey dew, and cantaloupe in the grocery store.  I’ve seen it served at more than one barbecue.  This layered salad in a jar can be made in either a larger sized mason jar, or it can be served in individually sized jars.

Cucumber and Jicama Salad:  If you’ve never tried this combination, it’s delicious, refreshing, and very figure friendly.  I can’t believe that I made it to adulthood without trying this.

Papaya Mango Salad: This is another mixed fruit salad.  Unlike the mixed melon above, this is a more tropical salad with a hint of Latin flavor mixed in.

DESSERT:

My mother was a big believer in desserts, so no picnic would be complete without a dessert   We have two mason jar desserts for you to choose from.

Mixed Strawberry Shortcake

Mixed Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle:  This recipe takes advantage of summer’s fresh berries.  It’s light and refreshing.  Using cookies in place of traditional cake, prevents it from getting soggy while being stored.

Banana Pudding: Bananas are available year round in our local markets in the U.S., and banana pudding is a classic dish.  This version, built inside of a mason jar, doesn’t disappoint.

We hope you have enjoyed our ideas to help you pack a portable meal while you’re out exploring this summer.   We know that once you try mason jar salads and desserts, you’ll enjoy them.

If you make your own versions of these recipes, stop by and share your experience either here or at PattyCakesPantry.com.  We love to hear from our readers.

Images: All Photos are the property of PattyCakesPantry.com and are used with permission.

Author: Patricia Miller

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