Let me introduce you to my all-time favorite office lunch—the soup and salad mason jar lunch combo. When I was working in an office, I brought this exact pairing—one mason jar with soup and one mason jar with salad—for lunch so often that it kinda became a thing with my coworkers. I started a bit of an office-wide revolution.
Why is this combo (and these containers) so trend-worthy? Lots of reasons! This is the perfect amount of food to make for a filling, nutritious lunch. Mason jars are food-safe, sturdy, and incredibly affordable (like these hexagon beauties I found on clearance at my local hardware store for $1.76 for a four-pack). Mason jars are the perfect vehicle for heating up soup in the break room microwave (just remove the metal lid and cover loosely with a paper towel, heat, stir, and eat!).
And, best of all in my mind, these lunches can all be made ahead of time. Like, we’re talking making your lunches on Sunday for the whoooolllleee work week, and still having fresh, crisp salads and flavorful, healthy soup on Friday at noon.
Now, every time I post a mason jar salad on social media, I inevitably get a whole slew of DMs from people saying, “But do they really stay fresh?!” I promise you, they do. If you stack your salads in a jar in the correct order and keep them upright, you’ll have fresh, crisp salads up to a week later. I have a more in-depth post on mason jar salads that is worth a read (and a viewing—there is a video with tips) if you are tackling them for the first time.
Now, of course, you can mix and match any soup and salad recipes you like, but I’m particularly fond of the recipes and combos below. They are simple. They are easy to pull together on the weekend. They are flavorful. And they are nutritious.
(Another idea for the soup part of these combos: anytime you make a batch of soup, stash some into wide-mouth pint mason jars and freeze them. Pull one out of the freezer in the morning, and it’ll be ready to nuke by lunch time. Just make sure to only use either wide-mouth pint jars or wide-mouth pint-and-a-half for freezing soups—any mason jars with shoulders are not freezer-friendly. They could break! I also tend to prefer the single-piece plastic caps for mason jars when I freeze, but the metal ones work, too!)
Alright, let me show you my favorite combos!
This combo of Blender Pumpkin Sage Soup and Apple Walnut Salad might be my favorite of all the combos for one simple reason: it’s so darn easy to pull together! The soup is literally just open some cans into a blender, add some spices, blend, and then pour it into a jar. And the salad is such a glorious combo of flavors, textures, and colors!
I love this combo because it’s a cozy and warm meal like I always crave in winter, but it’s packed full of bright summery flavor. It’s like the best of both worlds!
Tomatoes can be pretty lackluster in the wintertime, but I have better luck buying cherry tomatoes throughout the year than the big tomatoes. Something about those little beauties seems to keep them from succumbing to the January pink, mealy tomato disease that infects their bigger cousins.
There was a time in college where, every Friday for lunch, some of my very best girlfriends and I would head to a particular chain Italian restaurant and gorge ourselves on soup, salad, and breadsticks. This soup and salad combo reminds me of those wonderful lunches spent laughing with my friends! You just need to add some breadsticks. This tomato soup is also ah-maze-ing with some grilled cheese for dippin’.
If you have access to fresh basil, that makes for the best flavor in the soup, but please don’t
waste spend your hard-earned money on those anemic clamshell boxes of basil that the grocery store tries to sell for $5 each in the winter. Dried will do just fine.
There is something about this combo of classic Vegetable Beef Soup and a deconstructed Wedge Salad that makes me all kinds of nostalgic. Neither of these recipes are particularly fancy. And you probably wouldn’t serve them to guests. But they are warm, comforting, and über-tasty (like the best comfort food always is).
The biggest shortcut here? Frozen mixed veggies! They save you tons of chopping and cooking time on the soup—and bonus, they are mega affordable. You can grab a bag of organic frozen mixed veggies for less than $2. Steal.
So there you have it! I know variety is the spice of life and all, but I’d be more than content to spend the rest of my lunches eating a mason jar soup and a mason jar salad. Enjoy!