By Cassie Johnston
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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 affordably (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, 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 in 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!
A note on the apple in the jar: I instruct you to treat the apple with a lemon juice wash to prevent browning, but even that won’t keep the apple crisp and un-brown for very long. If you add the apple to the jar, I recommend eating within 24-36 hours. If you want to have it last longer, add the apple right before serving.
This salad features a beautiful mix of colors, textures, and flavors! I like it with baby kale, but if you’re kale-adverse, baby spinach is equally delicious.
This pumpkin soup is silky, rich, and packed full of complex flavor—you’d never know it took five minutes to make in the blender!
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.
Think of this bright and citrusy salad as like taco salad light! I like to add a whole bunch of avocado just before serving. Cilantro hater? No worries, just leave it out.
You can add fresh chopped avocado and crumbled cotija cheese right before serving. Yum!
We take a shortcut here to make this soup quick and easy to make—canned seasoned black beans. Check the bean or International foods section of your grocery store, most will have them.
Top this with chopped avocado and sour cream right before serving. I like serving it with some tortilla chips for dipping!
If you can’t find seasoned black beans, regular canned black beans will work, too.
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 so much goodness in the bottom of this salad jar—there isn’t a whole bunch of room left for greens! That’s okay, the jar is still packed with flavor and nutrition.
Depending on the age of your mozzarella, you might get more like 2-3 days out of a jar with cheese in it. To get a full week worth of shelf-life, leave the cheese out of the jar and add it just before serving.
This blender soup ends up being the most lovely pink color! A big chunk of the flavor comes from the fire roasted tomatoes, so make sure to grab those instead of just regular diced tomatoes.
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.
Wedge salads are decidedly not fancy, but they are decidedly delicious! We deconstruct the wedge salad and put it into jar for super easy lunches.
Way better than anything you’d get from a can, this Easy Vegetable Beef Soup comes together in a flash on the stove!
So there you have it! I know variety is the spice of life and all, but I’d be more than content with to spend the rest of my lunches eating a Mason jar soup and a Mason jar salad. Enjoy!
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I love this! I usually end up having some sort of leftover for lunch, so these would be great to double and bring the next day or two. Thanks again for the ideas :)
Thanks! These look great and I can’t wait to try them. Can I make a suggestion? Being able to print them all at once or pin them all at once would be super helpful. Thanks for all of your great content!
This is such a good idea!
Pinning to come back to later! These all look incredible, especially that pumpkin sage soup! Yum!
I made a bunch of mason jar salads for lunch this week, and as I’m shivering in the cold (sure, it’s Florida cold, but it’s still cold!) I’m wishing I’d had the foresight to bring some soup too! I think I’ll go home and make a batch of tomato soup to go with my salad for tomorrow! <3
These are so cute & smart!! I’m not sure which one I should do first!
Omg that’s such a good idea! I’m going to have to start making soup and salad combos!
I love these ideas and your mason jars! I always use glass containers but love those jars. Great idea for my son’s school lunches as well.
I am trying this for the first time. I plan on bringing a soup and salad jar to work tomorrow. This may be a silly question, but I will ask it anyway. How do you eat the salad? Is the best way to empty on a plate?
Yes! You can try to eat it straight out of the jar, but it is difficult to get everything mixed up without making a huge mess that way. We recommend pouring it into a plate or bowl.
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