Meals in Jars: The "Add Ons" Option

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I love the convenience of the "just add water" meals in jars, but what I DON'T like about them is the cost.  And that cost comes mainly from the freeze-dried meats.  Seriously, they are expensive!!!  #10 cans of FD meats will run you $25 - $50 per can.  UGH!   For many of the recipes I used in the "just add water" method, I substituted various flavors of TVP (textured vegetable protein) for the meats.  But let's face it, TVP is not quite the same as sometimes the taste leaves a little to be desired.

So, I was really excited when my husband bought me a book about meals in jars, and it didn't require any FD meat!  Nor does it use TVP substitutes!  Instead of having all of the meal ingredients in the jars, you just put most of the ingredients in the jars.  Then, when you are ready to cook the meal, you "add on" a few ingredients, things you would theoretically already have in your food storage or pantry.  In this case, the book assumes you will use either fresh or home-canned meats at the time of cooking.  And since I do can my own meats for my food storage, and find it to be easy and much more cost-effective than freeze-dried meats, I am loving this "add on" method!

The recipes I used came from the book, "Dinner Is In The Jar" by Kathy Clark.

It is very well laid out, and includes labels for photocopying (with cooking instructions), and lists of all ingredients and add-ons by recipe.

Here are the ones I have made so far:

Chicken Pot Pie
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
Mexican Pizza
Broccoli Cheese & Rice Casserole
Biscuits & Sausage Gravy
Pasta Soup
Hawaiian Haystacks
Black Beans & Rice
Italian Cheese & Sausage Calzones
The add-ons for these are:
Chicken Pot Pie - 1 pint cooked chicken (1lb)
Cheesy Chicken Casserole - 1 pint cooked chicken, 1 c. shredded cheese
Mexican Pizza - 1 pint cooked ground beef, 1/3 c. olive oil, 4oz can diced green chiles, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can small diced olives, shredded cheese
Biscuits & Sausage Gravy - none
Pasta Soup - 1 pint cooked chicken, 10 1/2 c water
Hawaiian Haystacks - 2 Tbsp butter, 1 pint cooked chicken
Black Beans & Rice - 1 can diced tomatoes
Italian Cheese & Sausage Calzones - 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. yeast, 2 Tbsp. olive oil
As you can see, all of the add-ons are things you most likely already have in your pantry or food storage, or can be added fresh.  Since I do store all of these add-ons in my food storage and can my own chicken and beef, these work really well for me.  Some of the recipes are a little more involved, including making your own tortillas for enchiladas...and I'm lazy, so you'll notice I didn't make the enchiladas recipe in this batch...he he he!  ;)