The ultimate easy lunch meal prep: shortcut grilled chicken Caesar mason jar salads live up to their name. Full of shortcuts, this recipe features simple ingredients, with some help from store-bought items. Sometimes you just need something quick and easy to prepare for lunch for the week; no fuss, no complicated methods, just straight forward, good food. There’s no shame in taking a shortcut when it comes to creating easy healthy meals. This recipe features marinated grilled chicken breast, crisp romaine, crunchy croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, and a healthy Caesar dressing. From start to finish, this recipe takes less than half an hour, and you’ll be set for the week.
What’s in this grilled chicken Caesar salad, and what makes it a “shortcut” salad?
The main components in this grilled chicken Caesar salad are:
- marinated grilled chicken
- romaine lettuce
- shaved parmesan cheese
- Caesar dressing
Simple enough, right? So, what makes this a “shortcut salad”?
Well, for starters, I didn’t create the marinade recipe or the dressing recipe. I am using store-bought items for both! I have no shame in this because I understand that sometimes you just don’t want to be bothered. Sometimes you just need a break, even though you want to eat healthy and prepare healthy food for yourself. I get it. I totally do! For me, this week was one of those weeks where I, too, wanted a shortcut. I wanted something easy but delicious and healthy to prep for lunch. My health goals are always in mind, but I wanted short and sweet this week.
What products are used in this recipe?
Here is a list of the products used in this recipe, including links to specific brands:
- chicken breast
- McCormick Grillmates Marinade Packet
- I used the Zesty Herb flavor, but most other flavors will work well here.
- These marinade packets are packed with flavor. They are easy to store in your cabinet for a quick and easy, flavorful marinade on chicken, shrimp, or beef. They are one of my go-to pantry staples.
- You can use any vinegar you have in your pantry: apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, white vinegar.
- romaine lettuce
- shaved parmesan cheese
- You can shave the parmesan yourself, or you can buy it pre-shredded like this one.
- Bolthouse Farms Creamy Caesar Yogurt Dressing
How to keep mason jar salads fresh all week
I love using mason jars to store salads because I find that the method of layering ingredients in these sturdy, glass jars is the key to keeping the ingredients fresh all week. Believe me when I say, they last all week this way!
The key to building a mason jar salad is to layer the ingredients from the most moist, dense ingredients at the bottom (here, this is the cooked chicken breast) and working your way up to the top to the lighter ingredients and toppings (the romaine, the cheese, and croutons).
Some people also include their dressing at the bottom of each jar, but I prefer to leave it off to the side and stored separately. Right before eating, I dump the entire contents of the salad into a bowl, and then add the dressing. You can also leave the croutons out of the jar for storage purposes, if you are worried about them getting soggy throughout the week.
All in all, mason jar salads make a great meal prep for the week, whether you are heading to the office or staying home. It’s just convenient to be able to reach into the fridge and grab a pre-portioned, healthy meal.
How to make shortcut grilled chicken Caesar mason jar salads
Well, like the recipe alludes to, this recipe is filled with shortcuts. So the instructions are pretty… short!
First, trim up your chicken and cut the breasts in half horizontally into 4 thinner pieces. Next, add the contents of the marinade packet into a bowl, along with a splash of vinegar and water (I do not measure these ingredients… you are just looking for the marinade to come together and coat the chicken). Then, toss the chicken around in the marinade.
Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat, and then get to grilling. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. That’s when you know they are grilled to perfection.
Next, set the chicken aside on a plate to cool. Once it’s cool, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
To assemble the salads, add equal amounts of the chopped, cooled chicken breast to the bottom of each jar. Then, chop the romaine and add that to each jar, all the way to the top. Measure out the cheese and croutons, and add an equal amount of each ingredient to the top of the jars.
You can also portion out your dressing servings at this point. And that’s it! Lunch for the week, done.
Shortcut Grilled Chicken Caesar Mason Jar Salads
- 32-oz wide mouth mason jars
- grill pan
- 1.5 lb chicken breast cut into 4 pieces
- 1 packet McCormick Grillmates Zesty Herb marinade
- splash vinegar white, white wine, red wine, or apple cider varieties will all work
- splash water
- 2 hearts romaine
- 1 oz parmesan cheese shaved
- 1 oz croutons
- 1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms Caesar Dressing
- Slice the chicken breast into 4 pieces.
- Add the marinade packet to a bowl and add a splash of vinegar and a splash of water to combine the ingredients into a marinade.
- Toss the chicken pieces in the marinade.
- Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Spray the grill pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the pieces of chicken to the grill pan and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill to rest. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
- To assemble the salad: add a layer of the chopped chicken breast to each mason jar, followed by the chopped romaine, and finally the croutons and cheese.
- Portion out 2 tablespoons of dressing per salad. Keep the dressing to the side until serving.
- 5 WW points (green plan) - calculated using Perdue brand chicken breast
- 4 WW points (blue and purple plans)
If you are looking for more mason jar salads, check these out: