I am not usually one to follow trends, but as soon as mason jars became a household staple I jumped right on board. It would be impossible to count how many I have around the house, and I would never have imagined just how many things I could do with them.
Of course, they're perfect for the ordinary purposes such as storing jams or dry ingredients, but I also use them to hold pens on my desk and as beautifully simple flower vases on my windowsills. They can act as a base for crafts, a candle holder, the possibilities are endless.
As a busy woman, I love the idea of these meals in jars, not only because I can prep them in advance but also because there is little washing up required. They're easy to transport and pop in your bag, and could also be used as a packed lunch for kids at school. Many of these recipes look insanely appealing as the ingredients are layered and can be seen through the glass jar, something I would take great care in doing. From breakfast to dinner with all the snacks in between, there's a recipe for everyone.
1. Blueberry and Grilled Peach Parfait
I can't imagine a much more perfect way to start the day than with this Blueberry and Grilled Peach Parfait. I'm a sucker for a dessert which is what initially drew me to this recipe, but after looking at the surprisingly healthy ingredients, I don't see why you couldn't enjoy it for breakfast.
By grilling the peaches, you both enhance their sweetness and give them a slightly caramelized effect, meaning that each bite of peach will be explosive with flavor. The yogurt will balance out the sweetness, and you'll get a healthy energy boost from those juicy blueberries.
2. Chicken Pot Pie
When imagining what meals I could make in a jar, it never crossed my mind that they could be comforting, thinking I would need to stick to salads and layered desserts. You can imagine my joy when I came across this Chicken Pot Pie recipe.
Not only do these little pies in jars look extremely cute, but they also sound positively scrumptious. This recipe makes six individual pies so you could either feed a whole family of mouths or freeze a few so you could have them ready to heat up whenever. They look like the perfect lunch and could be made into a wholesome dinner when paired with potatoes and veg.
3. Sausage, Spinach and Pepper Omelette
If you're more of a savory breakfast fan then this Sausage, Spinach and Pepper Omelette will be right up your street.
The selection of ingredients in this omelet sounds delicious, with meaty sausage as well as crunchy peppers and healthy spinach. Adding yogurt to the egg mixture will ensure it is nice and creamy, giving it the perfect texture, and that melted cheese topping is the cherry on top. There is little washing up involved in this recipe which means it gets a big thumbs up from me.
4. Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake
I'd eat each element of this Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake by itself so together they create my version of heaven. I love cherries, but I don't eat them enough, meaning I'm always looking for ways to incorporate them into my weekly meal plan.
The combination of both flavors and textures in this dessert sounds delightful. There's the sour cherry sauce mellowed out by the creamy cheesecake filling, all sweetened by the graham crumb streusel which will also add a pleasing crunch. Be sure to dig your spoon right down to the bottom to scoop up a little bit of every layer.
5. Irish Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's Pie is a staple in my house; we have a family recipe which has been passed down through numerous generations, each one tweaking it a little to keep it evolving.
These jar meals would be perfect to take to work and pop in the microwave, especially in the colder months when you're craving something that will warm you right through. This particular recipe is a vegetarian version which I love, but if it's not your thing you could swap out the vegetarian sausages for beef mince. I love my mashed potatoes extra smooth, something the milk will help with, and of course, it's not a traditional shepherd's pie without cheese on top.
6. Overnight Oatmeal
I've never been adventurous with my breakfasts, but that's something I have been eagerly trying to change, as I see a massive improvement in my productivity on days when I take more time making a filling, nutritious breakfast.
I've seen Overnight Oatmeal all over the internet and social media recently but haven't gotten round to trying it myself. This collection of 20 oatmeal recipes is the perfect way of finding the best one for you. Whether you're more of a pear and pistachio fan or more enthused by the idea of pumpkin spice this is bound to be the most delicious breakfast, and one you prepare the night before meaning you can take your time to enjoy it.
7. Nutella Mousse Peanut Butter Cups
Finding someone who wouldn't drool over these Nutella Mousse Peanut Butter Cups would be quite the challenge. Not only are desserts in jars easy to store in the fridge, they're also easy to eat and are already separated into individual portion sizes.
I can imagine my family and I on the sofa watching a movie, each tucking into a jar of delight. I like the use of multiple textures like the wafers giving a subtle crunch against the smooth mousse. This recipe would be easy to tweak too so feel free to add extra goodies like crushed cookies or chocolate chips.
8. Lazy Lasagne
Lasagne has always been one of my favorite meals, adding a jar to the equation only makes it more exciting. The recipe refers to this as ‘Lazy Lasagne‘ which instantly made me want to try it as there are few things better than quick and easy comfort food.
Because it's intended to be fast there are few ingredients in this lasagne, making it cost effective and straightforward. It uses a pre-made pasta sauce which I see no problem with, though nothing is stopping you from making your own if you would rather. I am a firm believer that lasagne tastes better as leftovers so I will be making this in advance and refrigerating it to enjoy a day or two after.
9. Zucchini Pasta Salad with Avocado Spinach Dressing
When I first thought about making easy lunches in jars, my brain immediately jumped to pasta salads, but none were quite as exciting as this Zucchini Pasta Salad with Avocado Spinach Dressing. By investing in, or recycling, a couple of large jars like the one in this example you can make extravagant salads with different layers and even dressings just like in this example.
The avocado spinach dressing will ensure the salad is moist and flavorful, not that that's a concern with all the delicious veg inside. Feta cheese is a must, adding the perfect hint of saltiness. The jar is ideal for shaking this salad up and combining everything so that each mouthful is different but equally delicious.
10. Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese
Pass me macaroni cheese of any kind, and I will wolf it down in seconds. It's the dish my mom would always make for me when I was unwell or sad as a child, so it holds a special cheesy place in my heart.
Again, the fact this Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese is in a jar makes it easy to eat so you could enjoy it while sitting at your desk or watching tv. I've never tried this flavor of macaroni, but I am intrigued by the sound of it and can imagine the pumpkin would add a certain sweetness and depth of flavor. Although I think you can't beat the classic recipe, I can certainly feel my mouth watering looking at this one, and love the idea of adding a crunchy topping with breadcrumbs and nuts.
11. Blueberry Pancakes
If I could have freshly made, warm pancakes for breakfast every day, I most certainly would. Sadly, I neither have the time nor the motivation to make them every morning, but luckily I have found these Blueberry Pancakes which could be the next best thing.
The mixture is similar to that of a regular pancake mix, but they look like they will have a slightly different texture. This method removes the hassle of cooking the pancakes individually and dealing with the mixture sticking to the pan, making them perfect for busy mornings. Blueberries are one of my favorite things to add to my pancakes, but some other things you could try are raisins or chocolate chips.
12. DIY Instant Noodle Cups
Step away from the salt and sugar filled instant noodle cups you buy at the store and move towards these DIY Instant Noodle Cups instead. Not only will these be far better for you health-wise, but you can also customize them to include all your favorite ingredients and flavors.
It would make the perfect office lunch, and I can bet those around you would be enquiring as to what you're eating. I love the fact this recipe doesn't have one definite set of ingredients to add. Instead, it gives you multiple options for each component and leaves it up to you to create your ideal noodle cup. This is going to be my go-to lunch when the colder months come around again.
13. Sriracha Shrimp Caesar Salad
I wish I were more adventurous with my salads, but I can't deny the fact my favorite remains a Caesar, without a doubt. Of course, I have had many a chicken Caesar salad before but never one with shrimp, so I am ecstatic to see my love of Caesar and seafood come together to create something beautiful.
This Sriracha Shrimp Caesar Salad looks like an inventive twist on the classic recipe which I am always up for. You could adjust the quantities if you'd rather, but I think the proposed portions in this recipe look just right. Sriracha will add a sweet and spicy hit, two flavors which work exceptionally well with prawns. Be sure to shake up the jar before eating so the beautiful dressing coats everything well.
14. Deconstructed Sushi
Imagine the fun you could have by creating one of these Deconstructed Sushi jars. There are many colorful, delicious ingredients you could include and use to make beautiful patterns on the side of the jar.
Even aside from its looks, this meal in a jar sounds divine. If you like sushi, you will undoubtedly love this as it's the equivalent of multiple pieces of sushi combined. By adding a vinegar and sugar mixture to the rice, you add flavor as well as giving it that signature, almost sticky sushi rice consistency. The raw vegetables will add a crunch and hint of freshness as you work your way through the jar and, of course, nori is a must.
15. Pomegranate and Pear Salad
If you're looking for an uplifting, fresh salad, then look no further than this Pomegranate and Pear Salad. It's a wonderful and easy way to move away from a regular lettuce salad without having to buy expensive ingredients or opt for something store bought.
Blue cheese isn't everyone's favorite thing, but it certainly is one of mine. You could omit it from this recipe entirely if you'd rather, but I'd advise replacing it with another similar cheese to keep the salty element. Feta would work well. Pomegranate isn't something I use enough considering how much I love it; the seeds are fabulous to use in salads as you get a little burst of sweetness when biting into them. All elements of this salad complement each other, and each one adds a unique texture.
16. Cinnamon Rolls
I wish it were acceptable to eat fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast every single day, but I doubt my health would thank me for it. Instead, I think of them as a weekend treat for when I've had a tough or busy week.
All this Cinnamon Roll recipe requires you to do is combine all the ingredients to form a dough, cover that with yummy cinnamon filling and roll it up before popping the rolls into jars. I tend to prefer cream cheese frosting with my cinnamon rolls, but this vanilla icing also looks divine so you can choose between the two. Top these with some fresh berries and tuck in for the most warming sweet treat.
17. Granola Parfaits
It would take a matter of minutes to pop the ingredients required for these Granola Parfaits into jars. To ensure the process is as quick as possible be sure to either purchase or make a big batch of granola in advance. Keeping your supply stocked will also enable you to make one of these whenever you please.
Because they contain three different elements; granola, fruit and yogurt, they will keep you nice and full up until lunch. You could change which fruit you use every day to keep it fresh. I have a terrible habit of sleeping in when I've stayed up too late the night before, so the idea of putting this together, throwing it into my bag and eating it when I get to work is far more appealing than going without breakfast.
18. Pho Soup
When backpacking around Southeast Asia last year I picked up a whole lot of new favorite meals, one of those being Vietnamese Pho Soup. Even in the heat, this soup was incredibly light and refreshing, and between us, we got through a fair few bowls.
The use of thin rice noodles means the soup isn't too filling despite it being a large portion. Soy sauce and chicken stock provide the primary flavoring for the soup itself which means it will be rich and tasty, also allowing for the vegetables to take on those flavors. Because the vegetables are raw when added to the jar, they will cook slowly once the water is added so they'll maintain a certain crunch to give the soup texture.
There is no possible way to pass this off as a healthy dessert option, but everyone needs to treat themselves every now and again. I have always had the biggest sweet tooth, so this is my idea of heaven, although if you're using a bigger jar, this could make an excellent treat for sharing.
Each layer of these S'mores sounds heavenly, and I can imagine plunging a spoon right through them all to taste every bit of goodness. The textures will compliment each other well with the crunchy graham crackers acting like a cheesecake base, the light as a feather marshmallow fluff and the creamy, indulgent chocolate ganache. You could make a few of these in advance and store them in the fridge for a rainy day.
20. Chili and Cornbread
I found a few recipes for things like chili and bolognese in jars but wasn't sure as they didn't look like they would constitute a full meal. This Chili and Cornbread does, however, as the addition of the cornbread as a carbohydrate creates a more balanced jar.
It would be easy to make this a vegetarian dish by removing the beef and adding extra vegetables and beans. The recipe suggests slow cooking the chili which will ensure it's beautifully rich and the meat is deliciously tender, though you could also make it on the stove if you're pushed for time. Because the cornbread is at the top of the jar, you will be able to push it into the mixture, letting the yummy chili cover it.
21. Tropical Sriracha Chicken Salad
Amongst multiple other unique looking salad recipes, there is this Tropical Sriracha Chicken Salad. I find sriracha wonderful to squeeze on top of salads as it adds a little sweet spice without overdoing it with heat.
Again this is layered beautifully, and I know for a fact the neat freak inside me would spend too long organizing my ingredients to look picture perfect. What makes this salad tropical is the addition of pineapple, one of my favorite fruits. Because the chicken is marinaded before being added to the salad, it will be packed full of flavor which makes a welcome change to the bland chicken you often find in store-bought salads.
22. BBQ Parfait
This BBQ Parfait is unlike any parfait I have ever seen before. When someone says parfait my mind instantly jumps to a sweet, layered dessert and, although this will have a hint of sweetness, it's far from that.
I will most definitely be giving these a go. I love anything BBQ flavored and they look so unique. As the recipe suggests, these can be made in advance to save time or even taken on a picnic, where you could enjoy them warm or cold. The slow cooked pork looks spectacular, and you can even use your preferred recipe for it. I'd love to add a little cheese to the mashed potato to give it extra flavor.
23. Burrito Bowls
Burrito Bowls have become some of my new favorite meals, and I always grab them if they're on the menu when I'm eating out. Despite how simple they are to make I've never actually tried to do it myself, but the recipes and ingredients in these examples look so delicious I doubt I'll be able to hold off any longer.
Popping classic burrito ingredients into a jar is like popping them into a bowl but better. A jar is far easier to transport than a bowl, meaning you could munch away on your commute, at your desk or even while on the go. Another beauty of the jar is you can put the lid back on once you get full and go back to it later, so nothing goes to waste.
24. Thai Salad
I'm crazy for Thai cuisine, all their flavors excite me, and I've never tried a dish I didn't thoroughly enjoy.
I try to incorporate Thai flavors into my cooking as much as I can because no one in my family ever complains and they're often extremely healthy. This Thai Salad looks amazing, so bright and colorful and I can almost smell the fragrances from the photo. It's very versatile so you could use any meat or fish you'd like, or even omit it entirely if you'd rather keep it vegetarian. I can see myself sitting out in the garden enjoying one of these multiple times this summer.
I'm going to have to invest in even more jars now which is surprising based on how many I already have, and possibly a new cupboard to store them all in. I have fallen in love with the idea of making up a breakfast jar in the evening and waking up in the morning knowing I will have a filling, nutritious breakfast regardless of how much time I have to get ready.
For midweek breakfasts I'll be trying out the Overnight Oatmeal, most probably with some strawberries, and on weekends I'll treat myself to a Cinnamon Roll or Blueberry Pancakes. For my lunches at work, I can't wait to make some Pho Soup and bring back those traveling memories.
Have you ever made a meal in a jar? Can you see yourself saving time and prepping your breakfast and lunch the night before?