Frugal Lunch Idea: Mason Jar Minestrone

February 20, 2014


Mason Jar Minestrone-Healthy & Frugal, perfect for brown baggin' it to work!


If you’re looking to save money on your monthly grocery bill- there are two simple pieces of advice I can share that will help you save money on groceries each month:  pack your own lunch and go meatless.

In the cold winters of the polar vortex or  when a busy work schedule is getting the best of your better judgement, packing your own lunch is not only frugal- but it helps you make healthier choices rather than relying on the vending machine or fast food that’s close by.  One of my favorite ways to warm up is to make a hearty soup, and if I’m feeling the need for extra protein, a veggie meatball is a great way to spice things up!

As you know, I LOVE mason jars-  it makes my brown bagged lunch look extra cute, plus, when it comes to soups- I can batch all of my lunches at once using a tray of mason jars- making several lunches at once that won’t get soggy like a sandwich might.  Soups=easy!


Vegetarian Minestrone with Morningstar Farms meatballs

Vegetarian Minestrone Ingredients:

1 package  Morningstar Farms® Meal Starter® Veggie Meatballs
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used the jar kind)
2 teaspoons veggie or olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans (AKA white kidney) rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dried large shell pasta
1 can (5 1/2 oz.) vegetable juice (like V8 or bloody mary mix sans booze)
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups baby spinach leaves


Easy Peezy Vegetarian Minestrone - perfect for lunches with Morningstar Farms meatballs recipe

This recipe is super easy- even I like making it!  Simply soften the onions and garlic in the pot you’ll be using for the Minestrone with some vegetable oil.  Then, add your canned ingredients (broth, diced tomatoes, beans, noodles, etc.) and let it simmer.  Heat up your meatballs in the microwave to make sure they’re hot to the center (unless you’re using a slow cooker, this recipe is meant to be made fast!) and then, add spinach.

*Spinach wilts really quickly, so I typically just put it in when I put it in the mason jar, then it will fully soften when reheated later.  

So what about portion size? One regular sized mason jar= tummy satisfying bowl of minestrone.

One Regular Mason Jar=Full Bowl Of Soup. Perfect For Lunches!


I love using mason jars to brown bag my lunch.  You can pop the lid off and microwave as-is (just be sure to cover your hands when’s hot!) or microwave directly in a microwave safe bowl.  I’ve eaten many a meal in the mason jar itself!

Sometimes, “being frugal” makes lunch so unfun, mason jars and delicious, healthy, hearty soups really change things up and make it feel like something special when you open up your lunch…instead of the same ol’ bologna sandwich!

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Find your fresh take on eating well. Browse hundreds of meat-free recipes at


Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kellogg’s MorningStar via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kellogg’s MorningStar.

8 comments so far.

8 responses to “Frugal Lunch Idea: Mason Jar Minestrone”

  1. Emily says:

    I totally get that this is a sponsored post by Morningstar Farms so obviously you’re going to suggest we use their product but I wonder if you’ve actually done the cost analysis on your veggie meatballs vs. frozen turkey or beef meatballs which usually come with many more servings per package. I agree that it’s thrifty and frugal to bring your own lunch but I think it’s misleading to say that making the meal meatless will automatically make it frugal. Heck, homemade meatballs aren’t that costly to make and you could even then make them smaller and stretch them further and freeze them yourself for future soups. Just something to consider.

    • Shannyn says:

      Hi Emily! That’s fair feedback! I could have also saved more by buying dry beans as opposed to canned ones and also using regular broth vs. organic. On this blog, the point is to buy based on your values, not just the price. I like to eat vegetarian and organic whenever possible- and the savings of bring a brown bagged lunch saves the most, regardless of ingredients.

      The times I haven’t packed a lunch, it’s cost me $6 to get minestrone soup at the place closest to my work in downtown Chicago- a huge expense!

      I totally appreciate your comment and the feedback was totally fair, comments like these are why I blog, readers help me see things from new perspectives! Thank you 🙂

      • Emily says:

        Thanks for the response! I’m glad it didn’t come off as snarky because I know that happens a lot in blog land but it felt like a valid point so I thought I would pose the question. I agree whole heartedly that making lunch yourself even if you splurge on ingredients is always a win over getting lunch out!

  2. Great lunch idea! I like that it’s frugal and easy to take on the go. I’ve been thinking about getting some mason jars for this purpose and now I’m going to do it!

  3. What a great idea! I recently bought some mason jars so that I can be better about prepping my lunches days in advance, and your recipe is one that I can add to my list! I’ll probably try turkey meatballs, as Emily mentioned above, but I think this is a great recipe nonetheless.

  4. Claudia says:

    Thanks for the nice recipe. I’m currently testing a lot of new recipes in order to become more fit & healthy. Gone test this out this week :-).

  5. I love cooking! This recipe is not just for eating healthy but also can make your pocket healthy! Love reading your post. Keep it up!

  6. Rachel says:

    This looks super tasty and so easy to make! I wanna try those veggie meatballs! Yum!


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