Meals in Jars: The "Just Add Water" Option

Saturday, September 21, 2013
There are lots of different "plans" or options when it comes to doing food storage, and they all serve certain purposes.  There isn't really one right or wrong way to do food storage - well, okay, there is ONE wrong way, and that is to not do anything at all.  That would be bad...

I'd like to introduce you to a method of making up your meals in advance, and storing them in sealed jars, so that all you have to do is add water and you've got yourself a meal!  You use dehydrated and freeze-dried products.  You can opt to do a portion of your food storage, or even all of your food storage, this way.  These are incredibly convenient!  Especially for nights where you need a quick meal, or you just aren't in the mood to fix something from scratch but you don't want fast food again.  My only "con" with these is that they can get a little pricey with the freeze-dried meats (they run $20-$50 per #10 can).  But many of these can be made with "fake meat", otherwise known as TVP (textured vegetable protein), which is much cheaper than freeze-dried meat, so that you can do either the freeze-dried meat or a TVP substitute.  For the jars you'll see below, I went the cheap route and used the various "flavors" of TVP. 

Most of these recipes have been developed by Stephanie Petersen, aka "Chef Tess".  She calls this her "52 Method Meals-in-a-Jar".  She has produced a cookbook for Honeyville Grains that includes several of these recipes, but she has also graciously posted the recipes online for free!  So that's what I'm going to link you to.

To get the basics of how to do the jars, and sealing, and the basic rules to follow, please check out her FAQ post:

52 Method Jar Info

*Note:  It is REALLY, really, REALLY, really important that you read and follow the safety guidelines for sealing these jars if you use the freeze-dried meats.

Now on to the recipes!

Potato Sausage Cheese Casserole

Taco Soup

6-Grain Peanut Butter Cup Cereal

Dallas-style Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Veggie Casserole

White Chocolate Eggnog Cookies  These are from a basic cookie mix made by Chef Tess, that she then uses to make several different variations of cookie mixes in jars.  Great for gifts!

Beefy Taco Rice  The recipe posted online has been scaled down for a single-person option.  Here is the recipe for the full quart jar size:

In a quart jar:
1/2 cup freeze-dried ground beef or beef TVP
1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup freeze-dried bell pepper
1/2 cup dehydrated onion
1 Tbsp. Chef Tess Southwest Fajita seasoning
1 tsp. dehydrated minced garlic
1 Tbsp. dehydrated minced ancho chiles (I found some dried chiles at Walmart that I used)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 cup tomato powder
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. beef bouillon

Add contents of jar to 5 1/2 cups boiling water.  Cover and simmer on low 25-30 minutes until tender.  Top with cheese or sour cream if desired.

Bean & Rice Fajita Casserole

Turkey Noodle Skillet Meal  (I cheated on this one - I didn't want to buy the big #10 of freeze-dried turkey, so I substituted chicken TVP, and now it is "Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal".)

Country Style Hamburger Stew

Carrot Cake Breakfast Pudding
Chef Tess has a TON of other recipes, too!  These are just a few that I made for testing and for my Meals and Mixes class today.  You can find additional recipes on the 52 Method Jar Info page (link above), and on the Cookin' Counsins Blog under the topic, "Chef Tess".

These next two are from other sources online:

Lemon Dill Rice

Mac & Cheese from Rainy Day Food Storage blog.  (There are quite a few other meal-in-a-jar recipes on this site as well.)

If you'd like additional recipes and ideas, I'm gathering them on a Pinterest board, and you can follow along if you'd like.

101 Uses For Your Jar Sealer


ArmyMomx2 said...

Thank you so much for these recipes! I manAge our Church food pantry and realized this would be a great way to provide square meals for families.

I plan on using vacuum sealed bags for storage.

Candi said...

That's a terrific plan!!