Easy Meals at Your Fingertips
We are moving across the country in a few weeks and will be living with family for awhile until we get settled. I am on a mission to create handy meals that I can cook quickly, without much fuss. I’d like to be able to add water, some spices and cook it on the stovetop. They also need to be healthy – otherwise, I might as well just go buy some hamburger helper.
I recently purchased a wonderful book by Stephanie Peterson called – The Meals in a Jar Handbook: Gourmet Food Storage Made Easy – that is going to help me finish my goal. It’s been a useful purchase and I’m really impressed. I’ve found tried and tested recipes from a name I know I can trust, Chef Tess.
The Meals in a Jar Book is a great starting point for recipes that you can convert to suit your family. For instance, we like spicy food at our house. The hotter the better, in fact, so I always add additional spices to the recipes. That’s one of the things I really love about these recipes, there are many ways to modify them to fit your needs.
I’m not a purist when it comes to getting these meals together. Meals in a Jar highlights Honeyville products, and while I think their food is fabulous, I use THRIVE freeze dried and dehydrated foods for my recipes. I think you should get your ingredients, for the best possible price, wherever you can. Even if it’s the bulk buy bin at the local Winco.
I’m planning on using my meal creations over the next 6 months while we are in transition. Even still, your meals in a jar will have a shelf life of 5 to 7 years, so be careful about the quality of the product you are putting into them. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste.
***Continue below for the recipe Cheesy Sausage & Pea Tortellini***
Frugal Meals in a Jar tips
- -Take a look at the recipe you are converting and decide what can you buy in bulk at the local grocer. Can you get pasta, rice, powdered milk or cornstarch for a better price locally and not pay for shipping?
- -Now analyze the recipe and see what have previously dehydrated yourself. This is a great way to use the things you’ve dehydrated and give them a purpose. I don’t know about you, but I can be a dehydrating queen and then not use what I put so much work into – because I haven’t decided on a specific use for it.
- -You are left with a list of things that you should purchase. Of course, if you want to get it done quickly, then order it all from THRIVE. Ultimately, it’s whatever works best for you and your budget.
There are several things that I find I always need to order. I have a monthly purchase set up through my Q and I use it to purchase the things that I know I cannot buy locally or dehydrate myself. I have total control, I set a monthly budget and they send me what I want.
What kind of things will you most always need to order for these recipes?
- –Meat – so far I’ve purchased freeze dried sausage, ham, chicken, and beef. They cook quickly and have no other preservatives, so I’ve accomplished my healthy and quick goal right there.
- –Eggs – I’ve tried preserving fresh eggs in various ways, but none of them are going to be useful for meals in a jar. Purchasing it powdered and canned is the way to go for maximum storage time.
- –Sour cream – makes a recipe really shine. I haven’t figured out how to dehydrate my own, though, so for now if I want that particular item in my recipe, I’m going to have to purchase it.
- –Dairy – cheese, butter, and yogurt are also at the top of my list. Powdered milk can almost always be purchase locally for a better price.
- –Sauces – Thrive has a variety of sauces that I really like. Veloute is the base for making a mushroom sauce and chicken gravy. Bechamel is the base for alfredo and cheese sauce. Espagnole is used in making beef stew and enchilada sauce and Tomato sauce is used if you are making a meal with marinara or bolognese. I have not found a prepackaged equivalent at the grocer.
- –Some Fruits and Vegetables – These may be on your list if you do not have access to them for dehydrating. I purchased freeze dried peas for my recipe because I haven’t dehydrated any this year. Plus the freeze dried peas are a different consistency than dehydrated and will cook much quicker.
Cheesy Sausage & Pea Tortellini Meal in a Jar Recipe
Ingredients for one jar:
2 cups dry small cheese tortellini (I purchased these at Winco)
1/2 cup instant milk (from my food storage)
1/2 cup THRIVE Sour Cream Powder
3 tablespoons Cornstarch (purchased in bulk from the grocery)
2 teaspoons THRIVE Vegetarian Beef Bullion
1 teaspoon each – Spices to taste – I used garlic granules and Italian seasoning
1/4 cup dehydrated onion (from my food storage)
3/4 cup THRIVE Cooked Sausage Crumbles
1/25 cup THRIVE freeze dried Peas
1. Add the cheese tortellini
2. Add all the powdered ingredients – milk, sour cream, bouillon, and spices
3. Use a butter knife to move the powdered ingredients into the tortellini so you have space for the rest
4. Add the sausage crumbles
5. Add the dehydrated onion
6. Add the freeze dried Peas
Top with an oxygen packets and seal the jar or use a FoodSaver to remove the oxygen. This meal has a shorter shelf life because of the dried tortellini – so plan on 2 years. We had this for the first time the other night and it was a BIG hit with my family. The 12 jars I’m making will certainly not last 2 years!
Remove the oxygen packet and discard. In a large skillet bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the contents of one jar and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Stir occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
This recipe is adapted from The Meals in a Jar Handbook, page 38 – Cheesy Ham and Pea Pasta. Won’t you stop on over and check out my Pinterest Board for other Meals in a Jar ideas?
Have you signed up for the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle? Refer 10 friends and get the bundle for free. Find out how.