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    Meals In A Jar

    Go to page 1, 2  Next Page >>
    Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:04 am
    Forum Host

    Each year from 2002-2008 over 5,000,000 people in the U.S. lost power for 3 or more days. With so many modern day conveniences, we have become more and more dependent on electricity for everything.

    Yet with of all our technology, we are not immune from power outages that affect large geographical areas for long periods of time. In recent years we have experienced in many parts of the world large power outages in the middle of the winter and even in summer months affecting millions of homes. Most of these only last a few hours or days but in severe cases this can last months.

    Many people get started with food storage so that they can be prepared for an emergency, especially an extended period of having no power. Therefore you often hear the term “shelf stable recipes” thrown around, meaning recipes that only need ingredients found on your shelves.

    You may have heard of gifts in a jar and kitchen gifts and those delicious cookie dough mixes in a jar.

    Wouldn't it be nice if your pantry was filled with premixed dinners that you could put together with little effort and have healthy homemade meals that your family would love?

    An additional benefit: you can control the ingredients to a tee when making your meals in a jar if anybody in the family is on a special diet such as diabetic, vegan, vegetarian, nut allergy or gluten intolerance.

    Food storage is not just for emergencies; it's meant to help us sustain life today. You can discover how to use storage items and other everyday ingredients to make tasty dishes a few times each week, which will keep your food storage in constant rotation-and save you money. So, should disaster strike, you'll have plenty of usable food on hand and you'll be an expert on knowing what to do with it. If the electricity is out for an extended time, cook on your gas grill or in a dutch oven over a fire.

    Does your family love any of these?
    Sloppy Joes in a Pressure Canner
    Chile Con Carne (Canning)
    Beef Stew - Canning
    For Home Canning: Cabbage Borscht
    Stew Vegetables
    Goulash (Canning)
    Chicken a La King-Canning

    Have your meat and potatoes ready-to-heat-and-eat:
    Illustrated Guide To Canning Meat and Poultry - Wild and Domestic
    Illustrated Guide To Canning Potatoes

    How To Can Soups (Vegetable, Dried Bean/Pea, Meat, Poultry, or Seafood)
    Information to Make Fruit Leathers And Meat Jerky
    How To Dry Jerky

    Threads of interest for power-free food preservation and storage:
    Root Cellaring
    Fermentation ~ Pickles, Sauerkraut and Vegetables
    Curing of Meats, Hams and Sausages
    Food Preservation by Dehydrating

    Recycle jars/lids for dry mixes or snacks, granolas, and cookies to save money and be earth-friendly. Make sure to use new lids for home-canned products.

    You can also purchase canning jars at most grocery stores or visit a local craft or container store for some interesting jar choices. For large quantities, consider buying in bulk: Bulk Products ~ Jars and Lids (link).

    Some recipes in the database:

    To assemble attractive mixes-in-the-jar for your pantry, make sure all ingredients fit in the jar, make sure to pack down each layer a bit before adding the next. If a recipe calls for layers to be packed down firmly, you can use the bottom of a long handled ladle to gently pack the ingredients down. If the recipe calls for only lightly packing the layers, you can just lightly tap the jar on the table or counter and then continue with the next layer.

    Some recipes may require that you include bagged ingredients. Use a resealable snack bag for these ingredients. Make sure you squeeze out all the air before sealing the bag. You want as little air as possible in your ingredients to ensure their freshness.

    Unless the recipe specifically says otherwise, all light powdery ingredients such as cocoa, powdered sugar or flour should be place at the bottom of the jar, otherwise they will mix and coat the other ingredients. Coarser or heavier ingredients such as granulated or brown sugars would come next. The last layers (the layers closest to the top) should consist of chunky ingredients such as nuts, cereals, candy pieces, or dried fruit. Once you have all your ingredients properly placed in the jar, make sure that you seal the jar tightly to help prevent the contents of the jar to shift.

    If you are making prepackaged soups for easy cooking, you can add all the spices to the mix. The only things you must keep separate are the bullion cubes (because they contain moisture), corn starch, and flour (because it will absorb moisture). You can place these items in a separate little sealed bag and put it right in with your dehydrated food.

    There are nearly 100 DEHYDRATOR RECIPES, more than 7100 RECIPES calling for dried/dehydrated ingredients and nearly 300 RECIPES FOR IN-A-JAR FOODS in the db. Click on the links to see them and use the sorter to get them into whatever category you wish (ingredient, cuisine, course, etc).


    Some recipes from the web:
    Canned Stew
    In large bowls cut, chop or slice the following:
    Potatoes, peeled and cut
    Carrots, sliced
    Celery, sliced
    Onion, peeled and chopped
    (A food processor works great for the carrots and celery & don't forget to keep the potatoes covered with water so they don't brown)
    1 TBSP Pearl Barley
    1 TBSP Parsley
    1 TBSP Bouillon (beef or chicken)
    1/4 Tsp Salt (optional)
    In clean quart canning jar layer:
    Pearl Barley
    Salt (optional)
    Then using a LARGE handful of each, add the following:
    Cover all ingredients with boiling water leaving 1 inch head space.
    Wipe rim with clean dish cloth, top with lid, screw on ring fingertip tight. Process in a pressure canner for 30 Minutes at 12 pounds of pressure.

    This stew can be made into:
    Pot Pies
    To use, open 2 jars of stew into a 9 x 13 pan, then add a jar of roast beef chunks, some fresh sliced zucchini and top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350F till bubbly.

    Little Red Hen Foodsite


    1/2 cup dehydrated carrots
    1/2 cup dehydrated white onions
    1/2 cup dehydrated green bell peppers
    1/2 dehydrated celery
    1/2 cup potato dices
    1/2 cup orzo (or any small pasta)
    2 Tbs Italian Seasoning
    9-10 cups water
    3 Tbs chicken boullion
    1 12oz can chicken (or pint jar)
    Combine carrots, onion, bell peppers, celery, potato dices, Italian seasoning, chicken boullion and water into a medium sized pot. Boil for 10-15 minutes. Add in orzo and chicken ~ be sure to include the juice from chicken. Boil an additional 5-10 minutes.

    Books you may enjoy:

    Dinner Is In The Jar: Quick and Easy Dinner Mixes in Mason Jars or Mylar Bags by Kathy Clark

    Cooking with Food Storage Made Easy by Debbie G. Harman

    Natural Meals In Minutes - High-Fiber, Low-Fat Meatless Storage Meals-in 30 Minutes or Less! Rita Bingham

    100-day Pantry: 100 Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals by Jan Jackson

    "Putting Food By" by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene

    "Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide" by Carol Hupping and the staff of the Rodale Food Center

    "Making & Using Dried Foods" by Phyllis Hobson

    Please feel free to share any recommendations for reference books or to make suggestions for meals in a jar. icon_smile.gif

    Last edited by Molly53 on Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total
    S/V Auspicious
    Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:26 pm
    Experienced "Head Chef" Poster
    Molly was kind enough to invite me to comment here. I'm not quite sure why. Certainly my perspective is a bit unusual and perhaps that is the reason.

    Some brief context may be in order. I live on a sailboat with only 30 amp electrical service, about 15% of what most Americans enjoy. My refrigerator and freezer are quite small--about five cubic feet each--so food unchilled food storage is important. Away from the dock while out sailing for many days or weeks at a time I am dependent on electrical power from a battery bank that must be recharged by running the engine or a generator which in turn require the consumption of fuel from tanks that are themselves limited in size.

    I certainly appreciate the concept of meals as kits whether in a jar or other container. For me the utility is somewhat limited as with constrained storage I try to have multiple uses for everything.

    With the forbearance of everyone I am going to ramble a bit about preparing for and dealing with the loss of electrical power, which seems to be the underlying theme.

    In deep storage I have a lot of dried foods including Zatarains rice mixes, pasta, couscous, and jasmine and sticky rice. Barilla makes some nice dried tortellini. I have a goodly amount of canned goods including all sorts of tomato products, mushrooms, corn, some chili (for real emergencies--I'd rather make my own), black and green olives, and treats like hearts of palm and baby corn.

    Things rotate of course, but in general I have the freezer well packed (mostly chicken but often a pork tenderloin, ground beef, ground turkey, Morningstar sausage, homemade soups and stews, and sometimes a large homemade lasagna). Even without power, if you have to open a well insulated freezer the temperature will stay lower when it is more full.

    Wandering back toward the specific topic, while I do can some things like spaghetti sauce I have found for my needs that vacuum-sealed bags like those from Foodsaver are more efficient uses of space. More liquid things go in jars (themselves slipped into athletic socks) and more solid things in the vacuum bags.

    In the face of limited or absent electrical power the immediate question becomes heat. While there are certainly lots of options for convenience, space efficiency, and energy density it is difficult to beat propane. 20 lbs lasts me three(ish) months cooking two or three meals five to seven days per week.

    In an energy constrained environment it helps to plan ahead when cooking. That is one reason I keep a pork tenderloin on hand. If you cook one or even two whole tenderloins (same fuel consumption) you can use the leftovers in sandwiches a day or so later with any remaining going toward a pseudo barbecue. Similarly chicken can become chicken salad and then chicken tacos (tortillas are easy to make but even store-bought ones last a long time). Reheating is more efficient than original cooking.

    Remember to use the heat of cooking as effectively as you can. If you are boiling pasta or rice there is no reason not to slip some eggs in to hard-cook them at the same time. If you are using a gas fired oven (that doesn't need electricity for the thermostat or other function) or outdoor grill to cook a meal consider what else you can cook. If the oven is on why not pack up vegetables in a foil packet and cook at the same time rather than use the cooktop?

    I do apologize if I have wandered too far from Molly's intent. I hope my humble thoughts have some value to you all.

    sail fast and eat well, dave
    S/V Auspicious
    Debbie R.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:18 am Groupie
    Those books look fantastic! I think I'll go put them on my amazon wishlist.

    Also thinking it might be good to have my MIL teach me canning.
    Debbie R.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:31 am Groupie
    S/V Auspicious wrote:
    Some brief context may be in order. I live on a sailboat

    I wonder how many people are going to wish they were on one themselves.

    S/V Auspicious wrote:
    In deep storage I have a lot of dried foods including Zatarains rice mixes, pasta, couscous, and jasmine and sticky rice. Barilla makes some nice dried tortellini.

    Barilla's spaghetti has a pretty good amount of protein in itself.

    S/V Auspicious wrote:
    while I do can some things like spaghetti sauce I have found for my needs that vacuum-sealed bags like those from Foodsaver are more efficient uses of space. More liquid things go in jars (themselves slipped into athletic socks) and more solid things in the vacuum bags.

    I think this might work better for me too. Thanks for the idea. I also see that at least one of the cookbooks talks about putting things into bags also. Thanks for sharing and the info.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:55 am
    Forum Host
    We'd be very happy to help you learn to can, Debbie. icon_smile.gif
    Debbie R.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:21 pm Groupie
    Well, I spoke do DMIL about it. She had alot to say about it. She's about 70 and has been canning most of her life. Her grandmother, mother and son have all had huge gardens the required canning to keep from wasting produce. I think I'm going to stick with buying commercially canned stuff. However, I think dehydrating could be a great new thing to do. I could see going to the farmers markets during harvest to pick up stuff at a cheaper rate.

    I was looking thru those books. They had plans for building your own dehydrator! And also for a chicken coup. That would be So Cool. My grandparents had chickens.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:14 pm
    Forum Host
    What a great thread! icon_biggrin.gif
    Molly, loved all the information you gave in the intro! Those books and the recipes in the database are so cool. Ill take my time checking them out more, cause for me as a student making good use of everything and having healthy meals in minutes is very important. Thanks for all the input! icon_biggrin.gif

    S/V Auspicious wow, what a story! Im sure living in such small space is quite a challenge. But Im sure its worth it for all the places you go to and things you experience. I really like your ideas of making best use of energy. I never really thought about putting eggs into my pasta water, but why not, it sure saves energy. Kudos to you for operating so efficiently with what you have and thank you for sharing your insights with us.

    Kosher Kook #2
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:48 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    I also received a kind invite from Molly to contribute. I see a number of ideas that I'm looking forward to trying, particularly the dehydrated meals in a jar. My canning skills are severely limited (read: absent,) but I'm counting on a friend of mine who is an avid canner to help me out should the need arise.

    I've done a bit od dehydrating, and thanks to a wonderful site ( picked up quite a wealth of information. One bit that I've not yet seen on this site is to include an oxygen absorber (available at just before sealing the jar. After a few hours, the jar will "seal" as though canned (though not heat-treated; the absence of moisture and oxygen prohibits bacteria growth.) And because the lid has not been heated, it does achieve a seal once again (with time.) This is a great method for taking advantage of frozen vegetables/fruits when they are on sale. Just dump the contents of the bag on the dehydrater tray and you're ready to go. (Frozen produce has already been pre-prepped as far as any blanching or steaming necessary.) I've also used this strategy to rotate freezer contents that I'm not necessarily ready to utilize. I highly recommend the Excalibur food dehydrator. Not only do the square trays hold significantly more food, I find them easier to clean and more evenly-processing than the round, top-to-bottom models.

    I've also used a vacuum sealer both for frozen and long-term storage food (such as rice & beans.) The shelf-stable items then go into tubs to prevent infestation by pests. I believe that mylar bags should have been included in my plan, so will be considering that upgrade as well. Our pantry includes also various commercially-canned and commercially-freeze-dried foods.

    We recently bought a home with an electric stove, where previously the stove was propane, but we do have a small back-packer's stove, a propane burner and a Coleman campstove, as well as the ol' charcoal grill.

    That's all I can think of for now...great forum, Molly, thanks for inviting me!
    Debbie R.
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:19 pm Groupie
    Kosher Kook #2 wrote:
    I've also used a vacuum sealer both for frozen and long-term storage food (such as rice & beans.) The shelf-stable items then go into tubs to prevent infestation by pests. I believe that mylar bags should have been included in

    What's the difference between mylar bags and freezer-type bags from Ziplock, etc.?

    Thanks for all of the info. I'm thinking dehydrating might be the way for me to go too.
    Kosher Kook #2
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:55 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    Mylar bags are metallic and keep sunlight out. Sunlight, moisture and oxygen are the major factors in deterioration in food quality and preservation. Check out the dehydrate2store website. That chick has numerous videos and tips for dehydrating!
    Kosher Kook #2
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:58 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    One more thing: if you go through the dehydrate2store website link to honeyville grains, she gives a discount code for any of their products, including the oxygen absorbers. Very reasonable prices, too, and a flat shipping rate of $4.49 (I think.)
    Debbie R.
    Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:28 am Groupie
    Well, if we store the dehydrated bags in large storage containers for pest control, why would we need to be concerned about sunlight? Are the mylar bags cheaper than the grocery storage bags? Or the sealing more effective?
    Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:45 am
    Forum Host
    Debbie R. wrote:
    Well, if we store the dehydrated bags in large storage containers for pest control, why would we need to be concerned about sunlight? Are the mylar bags cheaper than the grocery storage bags? Or the sealing more effective?
    The idea behind this thread was for preparing pre-made (or nearly so) family dinner meals easily utilized during temporary power outages. Mason jars and mylar bags are perhaps better than large containers for this purpose. I suspect that bulk, long-term, commodity food storage is likely a different topic of conversation altogether.

    I can see that the mylar bags would be effective against UV affecting the nutrition and appearance of stored food, but how good are they against pests like rodents?
    Debbie R.
    Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:15 am Groupie
    Sorry if I got sidetracked. I wasn't thinking really LARGE storage. But we were w/o power for 7 days and others for ten and man, it was miserable. It made quite an impression. It would have been nice to have had something that wasn't cold or straight out of a can, particularly since I can't eat alot of salt. I think it might be surprising how much food a person eats in a week if you were to put it all on the countertops and table...

    I did a quick inventory of my stuff, and I don't think I have more than a month's worth.
    Kosher Kook #2
    Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:54 pm
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    For protection against rodents, etc., the preferred method is to use 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids. I'm told that you can obtain those from bakeries, but you can also buy them.

    Sorry for getting off track, Molly.
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