Saturday, February 4, 2012

Create Your Own Dinner In A Jar

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 A full pantry on a budget, that's one of my goals with this blog .  I was so lucky to be able to attend some classes this week at Honeyville Grain  and I learned how to have convenience, save money, and have simplicity when planning your food storage.  (you should really check out the classes they have at Honeyville!!!  They are free and you learn soooo much!!! I swear I don't get paid to say all this,they really are just an amazing company!!)  The first class was taught by the creators of the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker.  I have mentioned them once or twice on this blog ;)  and I really love their product.  But to see them in person and hear them talk about how they have used their cooker was really motivating to use mine more often.  The other class, Meals In A Jar, was taught by the store manager Lisa, and she showed us all how to save money, have quick meals, and even have our husbands and kids cook dinner!! Both of these classes made me think of how much money you can save and also have meals ready for an emergency.  I couldn't wait to share what I learned with all of you!!

The idea for dinner in a jar isn't new but Chef Tess of (Stephanie Peterson) has a great set of recipes and ideas for making 7 meals x 52 of each for a year's supply to have on hand in case of an emergency.  Don't think of having these meals just for an emergency like a disaster.  
  • Think of all the times you are running late and your family wants dinner.  If you had a meal in a jar you could call home and have your children or husband boil some water and pour in the contents of the jar and dinner would be done by the time you got home.  
  • Have you ever been asked to take a meal to a neighbor?  Dropping off a meal in a jar would allow them to easily cook the meal at their convenience. 
  • Are there nights that you are so exhausted that the thought of making dinner is almost too much to handle??  (My hands are high up in the air!)  Knowing that I had a variety of meals ready to make (NO take-out!!) in just minutes would definitely create more harmony in my home!!  
  • Have you all seen the many dehydrated meal-in-a-bucket companies that sell a "complete emergency meal kit" for mucho dinero??  Now you can make your own meals and know exactly what is in them, and also know that your family will eat them. (because you have tested them first before making 52 of them, right??)  Please don't make a whole room full of jars before you have tried them out on your family.  It saves no money by having food no one will eat!!

Lisa, the store manager at Honeyville, demonstrated how to make the meals in a jar and then cooked one for us.  It honestly only took about 20 minutes from start to finish!  Once you have all the ingredients on hand, it is just a matter of layering the food into the jars and sealing them.  She uses the Foodsaver to seal the jar.  Remember when layering your food in the jars to always have the powdery ingredients towards the bottom so they aren't sucked up into your Foodsaver hose.  Chef Tess has some amazing recipes on her site and Lisa cooked one for us called "Baked Ziti".  This is one recipe that I personally have in my storage.  I am a vegetarian but my family is not and this recipe was easily converted using tvp ingredients.  My family will eat the tvp but I won't eat the real stuff so it works out :)

You can see all the ingredients layered in the jar.  This jar would feed my family of 7 (with little kids and only 1 teenager).  It would probably feed 4-5 adults.  This is the recipe that I used to make the jar above.

Chef Tess' Saucy "Baked" Ziti with Sausage and Mushrooms
Put the following in a quart jar (use wide mouth funnel):
2/3 C Honeyville tomato powder
1/3 C Honeyville dehydrated onion 
1 T Chef Tess Italian Seasoning (available at Honeyville but regular seasoning will work too 
1/3 C Honeyville freeze dried sausage or sausage TVP 
2/3 C Honeyville freeze dried hamburger or beef TVP
1 C Ziti (3 oz) (I used elbow noodles in mine because that is what I had on hand) 
1/3 C Honeyville freeze dried mushrooms
2/3 C Honeyville freeze dried Mozarella cheese (in a baggie)

After layering you can add an oxygen absorber and close the lid or use a Foodsaver with a jar attachment to seal the jar.  The jar is good on the shelf for 5-7 years.  Attach the following 'to use' directions to the jar.  Directions:  Place contents of jar (except for the cheese) in a covered skillet or pot with 4 1/2 C of water.  Simmer 15-20 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thick.  (Solar Oven 30-40 minutes covered)  Place the contents of the cheese bag in a bowl and spray lightly with cool water, not warm water or your cheese will be glumpy mess.  Sit for 5 minutes. Uncover cooked pasta and top with cheese.  Cover again and allow cheese to melt, about 5 min.

See!!!  How easy is that!!!???  Think if you got your whole family or a group of friends and you had a meal in a jar party!! It would be fun and you would walk away with meals for your family!  Honeyville would love to have you come in and have your group too.  Then you wouldn't have a mess to clean up at your house.  Honeyville carries everything you need and you could show up with some friends and get your food storage done at the same time. Just an idea if you have a group of people that would like to make meals like this. 

Do you know what gadget goes perfect with a meal in a jar?  Yup...the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker!!!  Since all the food in your jars are dehydrated you only need to boil your food for 1 minute and then place in the cooker.  It will be hot and ready for up to 6 hours!!  Amy and Jack Loveless (the creators) taught a class at Honeyville and they were so fun!  They told stories of traveling with their cooker and how they even fed other hotel guests when there was a water main break and the hotel had no food.  I have talked about the Saratoga Jacks before, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE to view my previous posts.  The cooker just fits perfectly with the jarred meals and also with saving money because you are conserving fuel in an emergency. (use the butane portable stove to cook the food)
I wanted to share this jar of muffin mix with you too!  My sweet neighbor (I have the most amazing neighbors!!!) gave this to me for Christmas and I keep it right next to my jarred dinners so I can have muffins with one of my meals!!  There are so many meals you can store in a jar and you can convert many of your own recipes into a jar recipe.  There is a cookbook called "Dinner Is In The Jar" that has great recipes and also labels to print out for the jars.   It is available at Honeyville and online.  This post ended up really long (sorry) but think of all the ways that having your meals ready to go will save you time and money.  There will be no more excuses as to why you stopped at the drive-thru again!!


  1. What about jarring cooked meals, say rice with curry chicken in a jar, heated in a pressure cooker and then cooled just as you would can something non-acidic. You can jar steak in gravy, how about entire cooked meals and not just the dry ingredients.

    1. It is not recommended as a safe procedure to can rice or dairy products in a home canning setting. You might want to take a look at the current guidelines for safe processing of canned foods at home:

  2. I've done extensive research on canning dairy products. The only reason the FDA doesn't recommend canning milk or butter is because they don't have a recommended amount of time.. plus the dairy conglomerate would lose out on a lot of money if people canned their own milk and butter. I do and it's marvelous. I can pint jars of milk and it sets for 6 mths on the shelves. Same with butter. For milk you set your warmed milk in warmed jars in your pressure canner, make sure it jiggles for approx. 7-10 mins and then raise the pressure to 10lbs... then shut it off. That's all there is to it. The milk is drinkable, useable and wonderful. Now.. canning entire meals.. it is really dependent upon what it is. Each vegie, meat, etc requires a different time for processing so if you process say corn, it will not be appropriate for the meat that is in the meal. I would recommend looking into the meal you are wanting to store. Spaghetti, chili, sauces, etc are simple.. they have tomotoes which is high in acid. Always research before attempting to do so and remember.. our government makes suggestions on who's paying the most that year to get their product to the forefront. It's not always what they make it appear to be.

  3. Hi there. Thank you so much for this post. Can you share how to make the raspberry streusel muffins that you have pictured? Thanks!

  4. Emergency Food Storage Meals-It’s time to prepare for our families needs; learn here all freeze dried Meal recipes for your families emergency food storage needs.


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