Bee Prepared by making Meals in a Jar for your food storage
Meals in a jar are easy to cook The ingredients are already cut up and measured so when you get ready to make the meal you only have a few steps to prepare the meal. Most recipes just need water added at cooking time.
The size of the jar is versatile and can be made for the number of servings in your household.
The quart size meals in a jar makes a meal for a family of 5-6 and averages about 9 cups of prepared food. The meals can be made in Mylar bags, but canning jars are preferable because the jar is reusable. When canning jars in a hot water bath you need to buy a new lid every time you bottle food but making a meal in a jar is different. You need a new lid the first time you make a meal but that lid can be reused later.
Mylar bags are good to send with college students or friends that will throw away the jar.
The pint sized meals in a jar are perfect for a single person or a couple. The hardest part about cooking after your family leaves home is all the leftover food. The pint size meal makes 2-3 servings so you won’t get tired of the food. If you only want one serving you can cut the recipe in half and use a half pint size jar.
Plan on a side dish to go with a meal in addition to some kind of bread. I try to add a salad as my side dish whenever I can. In an emergency, the jar meal is more than enough for your family.
It’s a practical way to have a “grab-n-go” meal for any occasion. I keep some instant oatmeal jars at work in case I can’t break away for lunch. You can take quart sized jars out of town when you’re visiting family and some of the recipes can be taken camping. They are easy to prepare and in most cases you just add water to cook them. These meals are easy enough your kids can cook them.
Making Meals in a Jar is the easiest method of preparing food storage. There isn’t liquid in the jar and you don’t have to water bath the jars or pressure can the way you preserve foods with liquid. Measure the ingredients into the jar while working in a dry environment, put the oxygen absorber in the jar and put on a new canning lid. The oxygen absorber will vacuum pack the jar and take all of the air out of it. A FoodSaver also can be used with the jars but you cannot use Foodsaver bags because the plastic is too porous.
The cost savings buying in bulk is a huge advantage. When was the last time you bought a 25 or 50 lb bag of oatmeal? I’ve never had the benefit of that cost savings but now that I make meals in a jars I can get that savings. Also, I buy the products in #10 cans when they go on sale and I eventually have all the products to put the jars together.
Another cost savings comes because you are just using the amount of the ingredient that is needed. How many times have you purchased a bundle of celery to put in a soup and then threw away the unused portion later? When I make a soup recipe in a jar now I am not wasting unused ingredients.
Planning the number of meals you want in your food storage is easy. Just think about how often your family would eat the recipe. For example. If you want to have oatmeal once every two weeks and you want a year supply of that recipe you would make 26 jars. You will have a great peace of mind all of the ingredients are in your food storage to make the meal. If the recipe you bottle has additional ingredients that need to be added when cooking then buy those when you bottle the meal in a jar so you will know your food storage is complete.
Rotate your food Storage. The most important thing I have learned over the years is to not buy a two year supply of wheat & beans, and try to find a place to put it for 30 years. You need to be eating your food storage on a daily basis and rotating it so that your body is use to digesting that food already.
Making Meals in a Jar is a great way to rotate your food storage and your family will be accustom to eating those ingredients
The Shelf Life of the Meals in a jar has an average 5-15 years, depending on the ingredients used. The #10 cans have a shelf life of about 6-12 months after you open them. You can extend the shelf life of the ingredients in the #10 can after opening it by dividing the ingredients among canning jars and then putting an oxygen absorber in the jars. The Oxygen absorber will absorb the oxygen in the jar and extend the shelf life back to the original life of the can before it was opened. When you make a meal in a jar you are doing the same thing.
Meat and Egg products should not be kept in an open can. It needs to be refrigerated or stored in a sealed bottle.
To figure out the shelf life of your recipe, list all of the ingredients of your recipe and then list the shelf life. The product with the lowest shelf life then becomes the shelf life of your meal.
Prepare to make the meals in a Jar
If you need to buy new canning jars, buy wide mouth jars so you will have enough room to put bags of ingredients. Regular mouth jars can be used if the recipe does not instruct you to put ingredients in a baggie.
Wash the jars, lids, measuring spoons and cups the day before in the dish washer and let them air dry overnight. All items used must be 100% dry when making the jars. Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and the surface you are preparing the meals on.
Use a canning funnel to help pour the ingredients in the jar.
Most recipe instructions tell you to put the larger ingredients in the jar first and then the smaller ingredients on top. Tap the jar to knock the smaller ingredients down into the larger pieces. This will help make room in the jar so more ingredients will fit in the jar.
Some recipes will instruct you to place ingredients in a plastic bag so they can be added to the recipe in a separate step. When purchasing plastic bags, do not buy ziplock bags. Purchase the cheap sandwich size bags that use twist ties or that fold over the top of the sandwich. When a larger bag is needed, use a gallon size. Try to remove as much air from the baggie as possible before putting the twist tie on the bag. Cut the extra plastic off the bag about 1 inch above the twist tie.
The Oxygen Absorber is placed on the top of the ingredients. You can also use a jar attachment on the Foodsaver. (Instructions to follow) If the oxygen absorber has a tendency to hang out of the jar tuck the corners down into the jar to keep it in place.
The next step is to remove the dry ingredients from the rim of the jar. Before placing the lid on the jar wipe off the glass with a damp rag or a Lysol wipe and let the glass dry. This step will help the lid seal to the glass.
Oxygen Absorbers and using the Foodsaver
The class teaches how to prepare the meals for long term storage with Oxygen Absorbers and the FoodSaver
Oatmeal in a Jar
The Oatmeal in a Jar class teaches about the Health Benefits of Oatmeal and the 3 different kinds of oatmeal that can be used in meals in a jar recipes. Included is a section that teaches how to store shortening in food storage and a recipe for the cream of mushroom soup that is used in the meat and potato pie meal. The class highlights products such as powdered milk, chicken broth powder, powdered flavorings, freeze dried and dehydrated fruits that are used in the oatmeal in a jar recipes. A 17 page PDF file is available that includes the 21 recipes with instructions. You can purchase a 48 page file that has the tags for each meal in a jar.
Recipes featured in this class are:Carrot Cake Breakfast Oatmeal, Quick Oatmeal recipes and Crock pot Steal Cut Oats. Dessert Recipes are Oatmeal Raisin Cookies in a jar and Apple Crisp.
Desserts in a Jar
Dessert recipes are great to have in food storage because they are quick and easy to fix. I love pulling a jar off the shelf knowing I have all of the ingredients and I don’t have to run to the store. In 2014 decided to enter a couple of the recipes in the state fair to see how they would compare to recipes with fresh ingredients and was excited to bring home a first and second place ribbon. Now I can say they are award winning recipes