Simple Nutritious Food For Parents On The Go: Mason Jar Meals

Photography: Fran Hancock |

By Fran Hancock

How many of us parents sit down to a nourishing breakfast every day, or a nutritious lunch? Most of the times we do eat an evening meal with the family, but many of us are shift workers and even that meal can be taken for granted. We pack the kids’ lunchboxes and feed them breakfast, we prep tea and then what do we do? We grab a takeaway coffee and a kids’ muesli bar, we grab a muffin at the supermarket or a chocolate bar at the petrol station.

What does it take to feed ourselves properly?

The lack of a nutritious food supply to our bodies and the inclusion of sugar-coated inflammatory foods ultimately leads to health problems that we all experience. Whether it is a lack of energy, alteration in mood and weight, an inability to cope with stress or more seriously diabetes, hypertension and heart problems, these are problems that can be avoided or improved with good nutrition.

But why do we do this to ourselves?

TIME would have to be the first thing that comes to mind. By the time we have done everything for everyone else we are exhausted. Its just easier to grab and go on our way to yet another event in our days.

SPACE would be another one, I often do not have room in the fridge for another lunchbox for myself.

Because we do this day after day, we can find women especially are achieving less than optimum fibre and essential fatty acids intakes, which has a huge effect on our moods, hormones and gut health.

What about the psychological impact that this can have on us, are we saying to ourselves that we are really not important enough for a decent meal?

Or are we saying we are just so adept at balancing life that we are OK with the quick snack, so superwoman-like that we don’t need good food? I think we need to stop being so busy and make time for ourselves in one million ways. I believe that we are so important to our children and partners and ourselves that we deserve the simple act of eating well at every meal.

Let’s start with eating well, ladies, and we will get to save the world another day.

I cook once and eat twice or often three times in my busy week. On the weekend I make up extra food when I am cooking. It takes little extra effort to double the amount of roast vegetables, rice and quinoa, to hard boil extra eggs and have an extra chicken breast steamed and ready to go. Then on a Sunday night I meal prep three breakfasts and three lunches for myself as I am doing the kids’ lunches. Everything is out on the bench and easy to assemble.

I repeat this again Wednesday for the rest of the week. Honestly, it takes about 20 mins and is a HUGE blessing to have delicious meals ready to go.

I love chia puddings and overnight oats for breakfast, they are easy as pie to assemble and I can change the ingredients to include seasonal choices. These beauties are low in sugar and contain good fats and fibre to keep me full for longer.

For lunches I love jar salads – don’t get me started on the joys of using jars for meals. They are compact enough to fit in the door of the fridge and take up very little room. The glass is recyclable and toxin free and they are portable, just shake on a plate and enjoy. Lunches always include a full complement of macronutrients to ensure I get the best out of my day, and FATS, PROTEINS and complex CARBS such as kumara, pumpkin and grains.

I place a dressing in the bottom of the jar with a hard vegetable such as corn or chopped capsicum,then layer my choices: spiralizer carrots and zucchini, beetroot, tomato, proteins, nuts and a leafy vegetable on top. A sprinkle of seeds adds some beautiful micronutrients.

Its really important to use a dressing you love and I like to use extra virgin olive oil as the fats supplied keep me feeling full longer.

How about you try some jar breakfasts and lunches this week and let me know how you find fueling yourself beautifully impacts on your day!

Some salad dressings to try

Honey Mustard Dressing
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake well, add 2-3 tablespoons to each jar salad.

Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing

3 tsp Tahini
1/2 a lemon squeezed
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Again shake and enjoy.

See next page for Jar Salads and Chia Pudding recipes…
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