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Whether you are a busy mom, a doomsday prepper, or just a grown-up girl scout or boy scout who likes to be prepared, you’ll want to consider adding some Meals in a Jar to your food storage pantry. Meals in a jar are easy to make, easy to store, and last a long time. Best yet, they’re easy to prepare when you’re busy or in an emergency setting.
In this article, we’re going to go over what exactly is a meal in a jar. We’ll talk about why you might want to make some, how to create your own, and how to store them so they last a long time. First, let’s take a look at what goes into a meal in a jar.
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What’s a Meal in a Jar?
A meal in a jar is a prepared meal consisting of dried and freeze-dried ingredients that you can store in your pantry. When you’re ready to use the meal in a jar, you just pour it into a pot with water and cook it.
Often, these meals are soups, but they can also be pasta dishes, bean dishes, rice dishes, or just about anything that you can store dried and then later cook with water.
Why Would You Make Meals in a Jar?
Meals in a jar are convenient. They’re easy to make up ahead of time, and you can make them in large batches to store. They’re a quick and easy meal that you can use for busy days, camping, or for emergencies. Because they’re made up of freeze-dried or dried ingredients, they will store well in your pantry, giving you a form of long-term storage food.
What’s even better is you can use the freeze-dried food you’ve already invested in to create pre-made meals that suit your taste buds and your nutritional needs. You can make them spicy, bland, salty, or whatever. If you have specific nutritional needs, such as food allergies, you may want to create your own meals this way rather than trying to purchase pre-made meals that fit your specific health needs.
These are great meals to make and store for emergencies, especially in a grid-down scenario. You won’t need to fumble with ingredients, or can openers, or other things. All you need to do is be able to boil water and cook your meal in a jar. This saves cooking time and the amount of water you are using. You can cook them on your stove, boil water on your woodstove, campfire, or even your camp stove. It all works!
Meals in a jar can help you beat inflation, too. By buying items on sale, you can pack and store them long term, using them up when groceries get more expensive.
Gift them to friends and family. If you have a friend going through hard times, an easy meal can make a great gift! It can also help your friends and family save money on food, too.
A meal in a jar is easy to create in large batches. They won’t take much time or energy to make or cook, and they are easy to store for long periods of time.
How to Create a Meal in a Jar
Creating a meal in a jar is pretty simple. First, choose your recipes and gather up your ingredients. Next, you’ll need clean, dry jars to store your meals in. Then layer your ingredients in the jar and be sure to follow the storage directions. Finally, label your jars with the ingredients, date created, and how to cook them.
When you’re creating your meals, consider the purpose and length of storage. For example, adding in dried cranberries will add texture and flavor, but because they still have some moisture content, they will significantly shorten the shelf life of your meals. The higher the moisture content, the shorter the shelf life. The lower the moisture content, the longer the shelf life.
So while using freeze-dried foods is a little more expensive, it will allow you to store your meals for longer.
How to Pack and Store a Meal in a Jar
Make sure your jars are completely dry. It helps to create these when the humidity is lower, too.
You’ll want to layer the ingredients in the jar. This adds an aesthetic appeal, which is great if you’re giving them as gifts!
Put an oxygen absorber in the jar to make the ingredients last as long as possible. If you can, vacuum seal your jars for even better results. For even longer-lasting meals, you could pour the dried ingredients into a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and seal it. Just make sure the meal is clearly labeled so you don’t have to guess what’s inside.
How to Cook Your Meal in a Jar
Cooking a meal in a jar uses less water and resources than traditional cooking, making these meals great for emergencies, grid-down scenarios, and even camping. If you have to bug out, you could transfer them into baggies to make them lighter and easier to carry.
The cooking directions will vary a bit depending on what you make and how much of it you are making. But generally speaking, all you need to do is boil water and pour the contents of the jar into the boiling water. Remove from heat and cover. Then, allow your meal to rehydrate for about 15 minutes. Then you just need to serve and eat!
Easy Chicken and Rice
Here’s my favorite meal in a jar – it’s easy, tasty, and looks nice, too!
- 4 cups instant rice
- 1 Packet Lipton Dry Onion Soup
- 1 Tbsp Dehydrated onion
- 1 ½ table garlic powder
- 1 cup freeze-dried chicken
Layer ingredients into a 2-quart mason jar. If you’re making a gift, you can use smaller layers for aesthetic reasons to create more texture and color. But if you’re making it for long term storage, like I did, you can just pour the ingredients in one at a time.
I put all of the rice at the bottom, but it doesn’t matter which ingredients you start with.
Freeze-dried chicken looks and feels like Styrofoam, but once you rehydrate it, it tastes delicious, especially as part of a soup or stew.
I sprinkled a little Italian seasoning on top to make it pretty.
Add an oxygen absorber and seal tightly or vacuum pack, if possible.
Label your jar with the date packed, ingredients, and recipe name.
To eat: Boil 5 cups of water. Mix contents into water and cover for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Other Meal in a Jar Recipes
There are all kinds of meal-in-a-jar recipes, and you can create your own, too. Here are a few great recipes that you can try:
To create your own, you’ll want to consider including a carbohydrate, like pasta or rice, a protein, such as freeze-dried chicken, beef, or beans, and vegetables, such as dried vegetable powder and freeze-dried veggies. You’ll probably want some flavor, as well, so consider adding bouillon powder or dried herbs such as garlic, onion powder, or even basil and oregano.
- Taco Soup in a Jar You’ll use ingredients such as freeze-dried ground beef, tomato powder, and beef bouillon as the basis for this recipe.
- Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal will remind you of creamy chicken noodle soup – warm and comforting!
- Beans and Rice Fajita Casserole in a Jar is an excellent substitute for traditional fajitas, but so much easier to make.
- Potato Cheese Sausage Casserole is like having breakfast for dinner – or at any time of day.
- Mac N Cheese Appeal to your kids (or your youthful self) with a bit of mac n cheese for some real comfort food.
Need more ideas? Check out these additional recipes for meals in a jar.
You can create your own recipe blends by changing the herbs and spices that you use. You can find freeze-dried cheese and butter to add some good fat to your recipe. You can also use different types of freeze-dried or dried soup mixes to add to your recipe, as well.
Just keep in mind that the shelf life of your recipe will only be as long as the ingredient with the shortest shelf life. You may want to add any expiration dates as well, especially if it will be a gift.
If you decide to use your recipe after the expiration dates, you’ll want to use your best judgment to decide whether or not it is still safe to eat. Most expiration dates are technically ‘best before’ dates, so they could last much longer than you might expect, especially if stored well.
When you’re making a meal in a jar, all of the ingredients need to be dry. For ease of use, and especially for grid-down scenarios, consider making meals where you only need boiling water to rehydrate. Tailor the meals to the things your family already enjoys, whether it’s mac n cheese, fajitas, or pasta. Create a variety of different meals to help you avoid appetite fatigue, too.
Store your jars with oxygen absorbers in a cool, dry, and dark place. Humidity, heat, and light can destroy your meals. Always use your best judgment to determine if a meal is still good and safe to eat.
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Easy Chicken and Rice Meal in a Jar
- 1 2-quart canning jar
- 4 cups Instant Rice
- 1 packet Lipton Dry Onion Soup Mix
- 1 tbsp Dehydrated Onion
- 1 1/2 tbsps Garlic Powder
- 1 cup Freeze-Dried Chicken
- Layer ingredients into a 2-quart mason jar. If you’re making a gift, you can use smaller layers for aesthetic reasons to create more texture and color. But if you’re making it for long term storage you can just pour the ingredients in one at a time.
- Sprinkle a little Italian seasoning on top to make it pretty.
- Add an oxygen absorber and seal tightly or vacuum pack, if possible.
- Label your jar with the date packed, ingredients, and recipe name.
- Add cooking directions to label on jar: Boil 5 cups of water. Mix contents into water and cover for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.