Meals in Jars

When I see news headlines like these…

U.S. Drought Driving Up Already Rising Food Prices While Economy Collapses! Get Prepared!

Drought means beef prices could rise

Multi-Billion Dollar Drought to Drive Beef Prices Up

…my first reaction is to freak out! It’s natural to experience feelings of fear and/or anxiety when reading news stories like this, right? But why, why would I waste one second of my life worrying about something I have no control over? You know what eases my fear: knowledge, preparedness, and a community of people that I trust.

About six months ago we began storing food. Buckets and buckets of organic beans, rice, quinoa, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, etc. now fill the once empty spaces of our closets. Given the access to water, we would be able to feed our immediate family and my parents (maybe even help out the neighbors) for about half a year. However, my thoughts lately are turning toward the possibility of using this food in the event prices of commodities were to increase, even more than they already have.

I’ve also been trying to organize what we do have and make it more practical for use. Today I began working on “meals in jars.” By combining beans, grains, dehydrated veggies/fruit from the garden, and seasonings I am attempting to ensure that we will have a supply of tasty and nutritious meals in the case of an emergency. Not to mention, it’s been a fun activity for the kids and I. It’s like canning beans and grains, but instead of using the pressure cooker all we do is place an oxygen absorber in the jar (smile).


There are thousands of different recipes you could follow when creating your meals in jars. Just remember to combine items that take approximately the same amount of time to cook. For example, do not intermix pasta with navy beans. The pasta will cook much quicker than the beans.

For an abundance of recipes to use as a foundation for your meals in jars look on this forum. Below I have also provided you with a few of the recipes we put together today.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (1 pint jar)
-1 cup oatmeal
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 cup sliced almonds
-1/4 cup dehydrated apples
*2 cups water necessary to reconsitute

Vegetable Millet (1 pint jar)
-1 cup millet
-1/4 cup dehydrated mixed veggies
-1/4 cup dried parsley
-1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
-1 tsp salt
*3 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

Quinoa and Lentil Soup (1 quart jar)
-1 ½ cup quinoa
-1 ½ cup red lentils
-1/2 cup dehydrated veggies
-1/4 cup dehydrated onion
-1 tsp minced garlic
-1 tsp salt
-2 bay leaves
*5 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

Lemon Dill Rice (1 pint jar)
-1 cup rice
-1/2 tsp dried dill
-1 ½ tsp dehydrated lemon peel
-1/2 tsp salt
*2 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

For each recipe, layer ingredients in order as listed. Use the size jar as indicated. Place an oxygen absorber on top and then close lid. Store jars in a safe place. Keep off shelves.

Storage Tips
-The best way to store beans, grains, and dehydrated veggies/fruit is in a sealed mylar bag along with oxygen absorbers. The individual meals could then be stored in a 5-gallon bucket. Lightweight, takes up less space, it’s just a much better option. So, I’ll continue saving for the supplies required for this system of storage.

I recommend purchasing mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and heat sealers from the fine folks over at Preparing Wisely and SorbentSystems.com who sell Made-in-America products.

Please comment and let us all know how you are finding creative, practical methods for long-term food storage.

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Year Supply of Basics

Comments

  1. I like the idea of adding dehydrated veggies to the mix so it's truly a complete meal in a jar.
    One thing I do in my food storage is to make sure I store complete meals. For example, 20 cans of tuna won't really do much good but by keeping tuna, relish, mayo, seashell pasta,and canned fruit we can have a decent meal. For times when the power is out I keep the small packages of mayo and relish. I know they're more expensive and have a lot of extra packaging but they don't require refrigeration like a big jar of mayo would.
    Good luck with your food storage. No one can prepare for every single event but it's comforting to know that by having food on hand we can take care of an important basic need for our family.

  2. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    Yes Patti! You are right we cannot be prepared for everything. But a little prepared is better than none at all;) You are so smart to store complete meals as you discribed. Carry on! And thank you so very much for sharing with us!

    • Shirley says:

      I got the kindel book called 100 easy recipes in a jar. Got it @ amazon.Can’t remember if it was free of 99c. It’s great

    • I am on a very fixed income and I keep hearing all the news about food storage, but the dehydrated veggie are somewhat expensive for me to buy separate from my normal groceries So what do you suggest for people who are over 65 and on fixed incomes?
      Thank You.

      • Do you possibly have some extra income to purchase your own personal home dehydrator? They are fairly inexpensive , I found one on Amazon for 35.00. Then when veggies are on sale stock up and make your own!

  3. Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal says:

    Those headlines do freak me out. Thank you for linking up to Your Green Resource – I shared it on twitter.

  4. aseedinspired.com says:

    You are speakin my language.
    We just put a way our whole cow for the year.
    With a family of 9 we really try and think ahead …and especially at times like this.
    Good post.
    loved it.
    T

  5. fce25ca0-eab0-11e0-b133-000bcdcb8a73 says:

    Do you cook and dehydrate your grains and beans, like lentils, quinoa and millet? I'm asking because it seems to me you then have a meal that you just have to add hot water, not really cook, which could be an advantage in many situations.

  6. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @Andrea Thank you for sharing this:)

    @aseedinspired.com A whole cow…A family of 9! You are my hero. We have to take responsibility for ourselves. Good for you:) Thank you for your encouraging words.

    @I wont retype all of that;) I did not cook and dehydrate. Dang it! What a great ides! I will try this and if it works well, I'll do it from now on. Thank you for the recommendation.

    • Katzcradul on youtube has a video about cooking and dehydrating beans. She is awesome and her video could help get you started if you are interested. Of course she has many other video’s as well. There are many great video’s about prepping and food storage.

      • Diana Chastain says:

        I just watched Katzcradul’s video on quick cook beans and I am so inspired. Does anyone have insight on dehydrating hamburger?

  7. Thank you for posting this. A few years ago I purchased Dinner is in the Jar by Kathy Clark. Unfortunately, I never got around to making any of the jars up. But now having seen your post it has got me thinking about it again. I even went and pulled out the book!

  8. I just bought a book on this. I think it is called Dinner In a Jar. By the way, I went to the link you provided for more recipes and killed an hour and a half. Thanks. This is such a practical and useful idea!

  9. Thanks for linking up to the Frugal Tuesday Tip.

    http://learningthefrugallife.blogspot.com/

  10. Stephanie says:

    I actually just starting exploring making my own "instant soup" this year. So far, I've had a lovely success dehydrating an herbed lentil soup that I can rehydrate with hot water and (ideally) a minute or two in the microwave at work. I didn't test that batch with just using hot water and a thermos, but that would likely work too.

    Next up: Curried DIY Lentil Soup…

  11. Andrea (From Seed to Stomach) says:

    Because I only cook for two of us, making a big pot of seasonal soup, one of my favorite activities, can be a little tricky. I usually freeze leftovers, but then I have a freezer full of containers full of mystery soups! Recently, I realized that the wide-mouth pint-size ball jars are freezer safe! I bought a package of those Label Once erasable labels and now the freezer is neat and organized. One of those jars of soup is perfect to take to work for lunch or to heat up for a fast convenience dinner after a long day. I'm still perfecting my dry storage strategy and like these tips.

  12. How much water is needed for each recipe?

  13. I too was wondering how much water to cook each recipe?

  14. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @Anonymous and @Terri I have made edits to the post including water amounts. Thanks for your questions:) It makes me better!

  15. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  16. I'm curious to see where you purchase your organic beans and so forth and so on. Interested in beefing up our food storage this year.

  17. I've been wanting to try doing some of these… I have a foodsaver with a jar vacuum sealer attachment. Do you think would this be enough to replace the oxygen absorbers?

  18. TipGarden.blogspot.com says:

    Quick question. I read in the post where it said to keep them off shelves. Can you help me understand better? If I do put them in canning jars temporarily and then do a whole batch of mylar bags, can I store the jars on my pantry shelves?

  19. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @TipGarden You want to keep the glass canning jars off of the shelves just in case of an earthquake or if there is a chance they will fall and break:) As I mentioned, mylar bags are your best bet:)

  20. How long should you be able to store these with the oxygen absorbers? Just wondering if they need to be used within a certain time, or if they are good for long-term storage. Should be absorbers be changed at some point?

  21. I have the same question as Toni. Does anyone know?

  22. @Toni With the oxygen absorbers these meals should stay fresh for up to 20 years. And there is no need to change them:)

  23. happyinreno says:

    Love your website! Such great information. I was wondering how many 1 jar feeds.
    Thanks so much for posting this. I am definitely going to be doing this project.

  24. egg preserving, now you can stock up!
    http://preparednesspro.com/safely-preserving-eggs/
    unfortunately I’m allergic.

  25. I think we need to spread the word. We can not live in a vacuum and need to start community helps. We started a farm share, and now feed 14 families on our farm. There are many small farms around like ours, with older couples or single widows trying to run them. Offer to help in exchange for keeping a cow there. Help with the garden in exchange for growing some veggies there.

  26. I just love this ideal! Since it is just me & my husband, I want to know where to get all if these beans & dehydrated food at. I am now researching for my area (which is very hard for everyone like easy way out) so any suggestion near southeast WI would be great!

    • other Suzy says:

      Suzy, we get our freeze dried veggies and quiona too from srmarketplace.com. Their food is great and they ship it right to your door with fed ex. Highly recommended! My name is Suzy too:)

  27. I am new to all of these wonderful ideas so this may sound ignorant but …… do you have to soak your beans overnight and then dry them before adding them to the jars??

  28. This is an amazing idea! How many servings do you get out of one jar?

  29. I was wondering about the almonds in the oatmeal. Will they go rancid and are you rotating these meals or are they for emergency only. I am working on our food store and when you are stocked meals come together on there own I have found.

  30. Is there a way to seal the jars if you don’t have the little packets?

    • Not that I am aware of Tracey. Does anyone else know of a different way?

      • If you have a Food Saver system with the accessory hose, and the jar sealers that come in two sizes for regular and wide mouth, you should be able to use that instead of the oxygen absorber packets. HOWEVER… if there are a lot of “powdery” type ingredients, they can get sucked up into the hose and gunk up your machine. I would put seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder etc in a small packet and tape it to the side if I were using my Food Saver for this.

        • I use the rolls of Food Saver bags and cut n seal a ”baggie” in the size needed for my seasoning , vaccum seal it, and insert it into the jar itself. Been doing this for a couple years now. My ”meals in a jar” are always requested at Christmas. Seems to work great for me.

        • can also place a cupcake paper into the top of jar to keep powdery stuff out of hose. I’ve had no problem with mine doing this with my sugar, flour, ect.

        • What I do is cut a paper towel in half and keep folding it till it fits snugly on top of your ingredients in the jar then place the lid and vacuum sealer lid on and seal it up. It keeps the fine food particles at bay . I ruined a machine in the early days before doing this easy step.

      • How about oven canning the jars to seal out the air?

      • go to pump-n-seal.com. This is a fantastic product ( no I have no financial interest in this, lol). I have one and wouldn’t trade it. Around $35, you can seal any glass jar.

  31. I would also like to suggest mylarbagsdirect.com for really low cost supplies…seem to be the cheapest i have found…they seem even cheaper than the sites you listed but I only took a quick look at those sites…Thanks for all your hard work…there is no doubt in the direction of the economy…and those that are wise will build up their storehouse!

  32. JeanneS says:

    I live in earthquake country, and discovered a great way to protect canning jars from mild-to-moderate shaking: when you go through your laundry, don’t toss out those odd socks that you can’t find a mate for — instead, use them as a jar cozy. And in a worst-case scenario where the jars do break, the jars with only dry contents inside them will at least be held in place by the sock for less scattered glass & easier clean-up.

    When sealing jars with your Food Saver system with the accessory hose, to avoid sucking up powdery ingredients that might clog your intake, tuck a (dry, un-used) paper coffee filter over all your ingredients, down inside your jar, to prevent spices from getting sucked up when the vacuum attachment is turned on.

  33. Jessica says:

    What size oxygen absorbers do you use? I have never bought any before, and I am seeing several sizes…?

  34. Love your blog. I am making these………but forgive me…I can’t find the exact preparation directions. Did I miss them somewhere? I see the recipes and the water requirement, but what do you do? Boil the water first then add the jar ingredients, or combine it all and then heat? Sorry for the dumb question!

    Shannon

  35. These are some really good ideas. I am working on getting our pantry stocked and have heard of mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. I am gonna check those out. Thanks for the information.

  36. Reneda Baer says:

    I am just beginning to learn about food storage and preparing for disaster. I love the idea of meals in a jar, but I am woefully short on jars. {and I can’t really afford to buy up a huge amount of them at once} This may seem like a completely ignorant question, but it is a serious inquiry – would it be safe and work if I were to substitue putting the ingredients into a large freezer bag instead of jars? Storage would be easier as well {and require less room} I just don’t want to do something that will be unsafe for my family.
    THANKS!!!!

    • Mice will chew thru bags, seriously ! Buy some jars at garage sales, just make sure the rims are not chipped. Good Luck.

  37. Enid Mejias says:

    I use half gallon mason jars fill up with all dry ingredients like fine flour, sugar, salt, corn meal etc. fill up to inch head space then cover the inch head space with coffee filter add the mason jar lid with my vacuum jar seal adapter and vacuum away and never clogs my hose! Just make sure that inch headspace is well covered with the coffee filter! I vacuum seal everything dry beans,oatmeal,rice,never goes rancid. I save the ball mason jar box and put all my jars inside and drape the same plastic over as dust cover. I store all my jars under the kitchen table floor and chairs that is not being used!

  38. Love this! I think these would make great, practical Christmas gifts. So many people are not aware of the need to stock up, and this would help them.

  39. Do you dehydrate your own veggies or do you buy them? If you dehydrate them yourself do you have any tips for dehydrating?

  40. I use our vacuum sealer with a jar lid attachment and seal those lids down. I have never needed the oxygen absorbers.

  41. Hi, are you familiar with this item? Check this website: pump-n-seal.com .. It’s a FANTASTIC product. I put my dehydrated veggies in jars and seal them with the pump n seal. I wouldn’;t think you would need a mylar bag then??

  42. Patti says:
    September 28, 2011 at 12:14 am
    “I know they’re more expensive and have a lot of extra packaging but they don’t require refrigeration like a big jar of mayo would. ”
    Just for your info…..mayo doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I grew up on non-refrigerated mayonnaise and to this day, my parents don’t refrigerate it. Its the stuff you add to it that causes the problem.

  43. It seems to me that all those jars would take up alot of room, and it would be expensive. I think it would be good to vacum seal the bags and use the jars for other food items. Anyone else have thoughts along this line?

  44. I am interested in this idea, but I was wondering something. I have never done anything like this before so excuse my ignorance. Could you put the dry ingredients in a mason jar and then put a lid and screw cap on and boil seal it? Would this work? And then also, do I understand this correctly when you say that you put some humidity absorber into the jar, that no sealing other is needed, other than just to place the lid on the jar?

  45. Debbie Hake says:

    opened my first package of absorbors to just use a few and within mins the (pink dots- good purple dots- bad) had turned purple. please tell me the other 7 aren’t really bad? it was within mins- really! can they still be used?

  46. How are you keeping weevils from getting into your stored grains & beans?

    • @Joyce All you have to do is freeze the rice, beans or grains for 3 days to kill all the bugs. Then just seal in jars , buckets or mylar as usual. Any eggs that hatch after can’t live without oxygen.

    • You can oven can the grains & beans as well i heard. fill the jars, do not put a lid on, cook at 200 for 1 hour, remove the jars 1 at a time with a heavy towel, then there’sprocess you do with the lid like wipe it with a hot damp rag or something, and close the jar. Oven can your grains & beans keeps large quantities of dry ingredients free of weevils. I heard this works flour and cornmeal and sugartoo

  47. Trena Knight says:

    Someone posted that the shelflife on these are 20 years. Would this not be true in recipes that call for flour? I heard that flour goes bad and has a very short shelf life. (white flour)

  48. That’s a good ideal you have. Have you ever checked out oven canning dry goods? We found this in are Country side volume 95 #5 and it works great we have been using this method allot. It works on all dry goods. flower,beans,rice,pasta,almonds,corn meal anything dry and don’t have allot of oil in it. and the shelf life is very long. If any one has any questions send me a email will be happy to help.

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