The Great Mason Jar Experiment

Lunch for the week.
Lunch for the week.

Once you have children, you may look back on your former, childless life and wonder: How on earth did I ever think I was so busy? I had loads and loads of free time on my hands…

Sure, you may have had a lot going on, but kids are a giant black hole of time suck. Sometimes they sound like this: MOMMY I’M HUNGRY OOPS NOW I POOPED I NEED SOME WATER I NEED A SPOON. NOT THAT SPOON, THE PINK ONE. WHERE’S MY BEAR? I NEED MY BEAR! (Pretend this dialogue keeps up for five straight hours until nap time).

Now that I have two children, I wonder how I ever thought I was busy with just one. Having two kids is not twice as hard as one, it’s about four times as difficult. They want different things at different times. They have different sleep schedules. They get into arguments with each other…

It’s rewarding, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also exhausting. You’re putting out fires all day, so you learn to prioritize (baby’s overflowing diaper trumps toddler’s need to find the yellow bunny). I can’t even imagine how people manage three or more… at least with two, we can assign one parent to each child when we are out, but what happens when parents are outnumbered?

Those parents are saints. Or insane. Or both. Man-on-man coverage must change to zone.

Then again, maybe human laziness is like a gas, filling any shape or sized container evenly (with container size representing the amount of free time. Work with me here). Most people seem to feel overtaxed, no matter what they have going on. Lately, I’ve heard a surprising amount of retirees complain about having way too much to do, and I’m thinking Okay, no job, no kids, no deadlines… why all the stress? (Still, they throw up their hands and say they just can’t get a spare moment to relax. Hmm.)

I’m guessing we just adapt to the amount of work we have going on, becoming more efficient as everything piles up. You have to do things faster.  No more fiddle-farting around unless you want to end up like Lucy at the candy factory.

lucy and ethel

My latest move in the constant struggle for greater efficiency is to attempt the Mason Jar lunches that everyone has been talking about. It’s an ingenious idea. You can make up a whole pile of lunches for the week, putting your sauce in the bottom of a Mason jar and layering the ingredients on up. You want the heaviest, least-absorbent layers on the bottom and your salad greens on top.

When it’s time to eat, just shake up the jar and dump your ingredients into a bowl. Supposedly, the mason jar keeps food fresher than Tupperware, and your salads should be good for five days.

For my experiment, I tried making Caprese salad and taco salad jars (just to mix things up. I don’t like eating the same thing every day). You can find them here, though there are also endless recipes on Pinterest.

My take? Pretty awesome. You bust all the work out on Sunday, then have great lunches for a week. Ones that even include greens.

By the end of the week, I’ll admit the lunches weren’t quite as fresh as in the beginning. They weren’t wilted or stale, just not quite as crisp as when they started. Still, they beat the pants off the microwave mac & cheese disasters I had been resorting to when pressed for time. Thumbs up.

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