This school year, along with tossing lunchmeat, cheese, and crackers into a container for a quick charcuterie-style lunch, I’m also going to use some of the mason jars I have for work and school lunches. But rather than just throw a bunch of stuff in a jar and hope it tastes ok, I’ve found some easy recipes and cool accessories that will help turn this idea into a delicious reality.

Purchased in great quantities to make food gifts for Christmas ’19 and then during the pandemic when my desire to DIY kicked into high gear, mason jars are so versatile, inexpensive, and easy to clean. But, please note: I would not suggest this idea for very young kids or teens whose stainless steel water bottles look like they were dropped from a third-story window. Use your best judgment as to whether or not mason jars would be a viable option for you or your teen and go from there.

Photos: Gimme Delicious’ Burrito Jars and A Sweet Pea Chef’s Salad Jars

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Mason Jar Lunch Recipes for school or work

Make-ahead mason jar salads

Follow these tips for mason jar salads from A Sweet Pea Chef and you'll have a week of school lunches ready to grab and go!

With a little bit of prep time on Sunday, you too can have an entire week of salads ready to grab-and-go if you follow the tips in this Mason Jar Salad post from A Sweet Pea Chef with Lacey Baier. Mason jars are an excellent container for keeping crispy foods fresh in the refrigerator because their tight-fitting lids keep air out, though you’ll want to follow her layering tips so your lettuce isn’t mush by lunchtime.

And, while you’re there, grab her recipes for chicken cobb, taco, or beet and goat cheese salads which all look delicious and pretty easy to prep.

Mason jar pasta salads

These make-ahead mason jar pasta lunches from The Domestic Geek for TipHero are satisfying and nutritious

Need to add some carbs at lunchtime to keep the hangries away? Jar pasta is another cool idea that will fill up even the most ravenous stomachs. I love the four creative Jarred Pasta Salad recipes from The Domestic Geek for TipHero which include Crunchy Ramen Salad and Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. Layered in the jars until it’s time to eat, you just shake, shake, shake until everything is mixed together before digging in at lunch.

Related: Kitchen hack! A DIY mason jar snack pack that upcycles those individual apple sauce cups we’ve been feeling bad about. (Phew!)

Mason jar burrito bowls

Mason jar burrito bowls make a great school lunch from Gimme Delicious

Cheaper than daily Chipotle runs, these mason jar burrito bowls from Gimme Delicious can be combined together in so many different ways, no two lunches need to be exactly the same. Combine with a baggie of tortilla chips on the side for some extra crunch. ¡Delicioso!

Mason jar ramen lunch

Mason jar ramen lunch recipe for school or work from Brit + Co.

If you or your kids have access to hot water at lunchtime, then a jar of healthy and filling ramen is only a few minutes away and perfect for the cooler days that are coming. Brit + Co.’s mason jar ramen recipe by Amanda Sager has dozens of variations and substitutions you can make based on tastes (extra mushrooms for me; none for my teen!)

Related: 9 clever non-sandwich school lunch ideas for parents who desperately need to change things up | Back to School Lunch Guide

Mason jar sushi

Send them to school with these Sushi Mason Jars from Clean Food Crush

My kids would FLIP for this sushi mason jar recipe from Clean Food Crush instead of another sandwich at lunchtime. I can already come up with a dozen variations for this and may even make real sushi rice and crumbled nori for extra flavor. Using smoked fish? Don’t forget that freezer pack in the lunchbox.

Mason jar antipasto salad

Fill a mason jar with this antipasto salad recipe from Fed & Fit for school or work lunch

OK, this one may be for the more sophisticated (i.e. older) palates, but I can’t stop thinking about how delicious a mason jar filled with this antipasto salad from Fed & Fit would taste. Pair with crackers, sliced Italian bread, or crunchy breadsticks.


Mommy Snippets' Jarcuterie makes an easy lunch ideas for older school kids

Recently featured In charcuterie-inspired school lunch ideas for kids and teens, Mommy Snippets’ savory jarcuterie is packed into mason jars which can then be closed and brought to school or work. I’d chose a larger jar than what is used above but would love to have so many different treats mixed together at one meal.

Unlike some of the other options, though, don’t assemble this one until the day you plan to eat it since you want all the distinct flavors and textures to stay distinct when you open it at lunchtime.

Mason jar PB&J overnight oats

Try this twist on a PB&J with Ready Set Eat's mason jar overnight oats recipe

If a PB&J is their jam (or if it’s yours!), check out this twist on the sandwich. Ready Set Eat’s PB&J overnight oats recipe is super easy to make before bedtime, and it’ll be ready to eat by lunch. Perfect for days when something a little sweet is called for, but the hearty oats will keep stomachs full for the rest of the afternoon.

Accessories for your mason jar school (or work) lunches

Mason jar “jackets” for safe transport

Protect your lunch with these mason jar sleeves from Masonry

I love that mason jars are made of sturdy and dishwasher-safe glass, but I also want to make sure lunches get to the table in one piece which is why I love these bright silicone mason jar sleeves from Masonre.

Offering a bit of protection from the world outside of the lunch bag, these sleeves also provide a bit of insulation and make the jar less slippery to hold. Just rinse after use or toss in the dishwasher if it needs a good wash. ($12.50 each at Amazon)

Mason jar insulated carrier

Carry your mason jar lunch in LaFae's JarStar insulated tote

This insulated mason jar carrier from LaFae on Etsy acts as a protective lunchbox tote you can toss over your shoulder. There’s even a little side pouch that can hold your phone so you’ll have entertainment in easy reach when you head off to lunch. (comes in several different color combos for $36 at Etsy)

Related: Homemade mason jar spa gift ideas all with safe, edible ingredients.

Keep crispy things crispy when putting lunch in a mason jar

Use Mason Jar Lifestyle's connector to keep items separate until it's time for lunch

If you’d rather not let the crispy stuff mix in with the non-crispy, or want to wait to add the salad dressing to the greens, check out this jar connector from Mason Jar Lifestyle. This little screw-on device allows you to put two mason jars together so that they aren’t knocking against each other In a lunch bag or backpack, and the silicone seals keep the contents apart until you are ready to put them together. (2-pack for $10.99 at Amazon)

These cute but useful reusable plastic mason jar bags from Kikkerland are great to pack with your mason jar lunch

How fun are these reusable plastic mason jar zipper bags from Kikkerland? They would be so cute paired with an actual mason jar lunch, holding tortilla chips to go with my burrito jar or croutons for my salad. Made to be used again and again, they can easily be washed in between lunches. ($4 for three at Anthropologie)

And, don’t forget the mason jars

Ball mason jars, available at Target and other stores, make great containers for lunch

If you’ve made it this far and realized you don’t have any mason jars, here’s a link to a 12-pack of pint-sized jars from Ball. Size up or down depending on the appetites you need to feed. ($8.99 for 12 at Target)