Cut dinnertime in half by serving up meals in a jar
I’m all about saving time in the kitchen, aren’t you? I was introduced to the concept of meals in a jar about 10 years ago by some friends at church. They made me a gift of a cutely decorated, quart size mason jar. In it, I was delighted to find all the fixings to make chocolate chip cookies. My family loved it because all we had to do was add a bit of butter, mix, and bake. It was simple, easy, and super convenient!
For the longest time, I thought that decorative desserts such as the cookie mix were the only way to utilize the meals in a jar concept. After years of building up my kitchen expertise, I am here to tell you otherwise. Today, we are going to take a look at some neat ways to utilize the meals in a jar concept.
What are Meals in a Jar?
Meals in jars are exactly what they sound like. You take the conventional method of packing along your meal, and instead, nicely layer it into a jar. Often times, meals in a jar are assembled in Mason jars. The size of the jar you use really depends on what the meal is. For example, daily nibbles like parfaits and deserts can be stashed away in smaller jars. For heartier meals, using a full sized Mason jar is more appropriate. You will also need to use full sized Mason jars if you want to create meals that will be stashed away for extended periods of time.
What is the Appeal?
What makes meals in a jar so great is the fact that you get to control what you put in your body. If you struggle with rationing out your food intake, then a meal in a jar can help you control that. With the limited space that the jar offers, you often avoid the issue of having too many servings.
Another favorite aspect of meals in a jar is the fact that they tend to be on the healthy side. There are so many great recipes that cater to healthy nutritional intake. You can easily assemble these meals all while knowing that the food going into your body is healthy.
Lastly, meals in a jar are just so darn pretty. You can pack it for yourself and enjoy it or give it away as a gift. The different layers that are visible in the jar make you more inclined to eating and actually enjoying your meal. Depending on the meal, some meals in a jar can have a pretty impressive shelf life too. Especially if the meal is a melange of dry ingredients that can be made into something special.
Find the Right Meals in a Jar Guide
For me, it all started when I purchased the book Make-A-Mixby Karine Eliason. It was then that I noticed that I started saving money by making my own ready made “master mixes”. Make-A-Mix will inspire you to try out some really unique recipes. In fact, when I first started, it was hard to choose my favorite recipe. After playing around for a while, I found that the Quick Mix found on page 21 was the one I used the most. What I like about this mix is that I can make it in smallish batches that will last about 12 weeks on the shelf. Also, I can use it in muffins, pancakes, biscuits, and even doughnuts.
I consider the master mixes in this cookbook to be an essential part of my food storage plan. Because I know just how much I’m going to be using, I purchase ingredients in bulk and make them into a series of quick, healthy meals for my family. It saves me time and money and gives me quality control over the ingredients I’m feeding my family.
The best way to start integrating meals in a jar into your life is by finding the right resource to use. When you find the right recipe that works for you and your family, you can then begin playing around with it. Playing around with recipes will eventually allow you to have a range of options when it comes to meals in a jar.
How do you prepare meals in jars?
The beauty about making meals in jars lies in the fact that you can significantly cut down your dinner prep. For example, many of the meal in jars recipes I use only require me to add in water. Automatically, this cuts down my prep time significantly. Cooking the meal is often just as simple too. Most of the meals in jars that require cooking take about 20 to 25 minutes on the stove top. If you are strung on time, then this can be a great solution. As someone who is usually really busy, I love having the ability to pluck a jar off the shelf and have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
If you plan on making meals in a jar that offer a great shelf life, then Thrive is a name you need to get comfortable with. Thrive is a reliable and conscientious company that offers consumers the ability to purchase food storage options. These items will typically include freeze dried and dehydrated foods. Freeze dried fruits are known for having amazing shelf lives. Better yet, because the food is dehydrated, it still retains its nutritional value. If you are looking to incorporate healthy options in your meals in a jar, then you will especially love Thrive. Their foods are non-GMO. All the cans are BPA free and there is no added sugar, salt, or nitrates on fruits and vegetables. The result is getting fresh, great tasting, freeze dried produce. You simply can not go wrong with that. Learn more about Thrive and get information about all they have to offer here.
Layering Your Meal in a Jar
One of the distinguishing features of meals in a jar is in the way that they are put together. You will often notice that meals in jars feature distinct layers. These layers are the different ingredients that will go into making your meal. You never just mix all the ingredients together. Rather, you layer them in so that you preserve the integrity of each ingredient.
Try It out for Yourself
Now that you know a little bit about the awesomeness of meals in a jar, it’s time to dip your feet in the water. If you are looking to try a delicious and hearty meal in a jar, check out this fantastic recipe. This is one that will soon be your family favorite –
Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole Meals in a Jar
For each jar, you will need to use the following Ingredients.
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 cup freeze dried THRIVE Chicken
- 1/4 cup freeze dried THRIVE Cheese Powder
- 1/4 cup THRIVE Veloute Powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup THRIVE Butter Powder
- 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
- 1/4 cup dehydrated onion
- 1 cup freeze dried THRIVE Broccoli
- 1/2 cup freeze dried THRIVE Celery
Layer all the ingredients, in order, into a quart size mason jar and tap down as you go. I just bang mine on the counter, but you can also use a butter knife to get all the items in. You want to make sure that you get rid of any unnecessary pockets of air. The goal is to start with the bulkiest item (rice) and add a powder that will work its way into the extra space.
You can add a 300 cc oxygen packet or use your FoodSaver to remove the air before sealing the jar. This will give your easy to prepare dinner a shelf life of 5-7 years. So far, ours are flying off the shelf long before we get to an expiration date. The key is to make these be meals in a jar that your family will love.
Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a large skillet. Empty the contents of one jar into the water and stir. bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. You will want your mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. As it simmers, be sure to stir it occasionally until the rice is cooked.
You’ve probably seen these pretty mason jars, layered full of mouthwatering food on Pinterest. (Be sure to check out my Meals in a Jar board). One thing you may have noticed is how pretty each jar is. I’m not so worried about how pretty they are, but how much food I can get inside of them. That means that my “layers” are not so photogenic. But of course, when you make your meal in a jar, you can assemble it to your liking.
Final Thoughts on Meals in a Jar
If you are ready to start making meals in jars then be sure to check out Thrive first. They have everything you need in order to start making mouthwatering meals in a jar. Click here to order THRIVE Foods and find out about the monthly Q. You will love the convenience of creating your favorite meals in a jar. Also, we are sure you will enjoy knowing that there are healthy meals right at your fingertips. It’s like magic!
Ten Acre Homestead says
This looks amazing. What a great time saver that must be and would be pretty handy for camping trips as well. Thanks for sharing!
Are you saying, that if I use a 300cc oxygen packet or use a food saver machine, my meal in a jar is good on the shelf between 5-7 yrs. ?
Hi Evelyn, Yes it sure is! As long as you are using dehydrated or freeze dried foods, they will be good in a mason jar for 5-7 years.
James Warner says
would be nice if some one would do enough research to be able to do away with all the (Thrive) advertising.
Most of these things can be done with homemade products
Agree, I thought the purpose of this was to be self sufficient. Youre just buying pre made food from someone else and sticking it in a jar. You can dehydrate these things yourself and then you’ll really know what’s in it!
This is just one part of my food storage plan, guys! It’s nice to have some variety.
Lea in NC says
I’m confused. If you’re using Thrive foods that expire between 15-25 years, why do they only last 5-7 when they car combined in a jar and sealed well? I want to do this, but I wonder if it’s worth pre-combining the ingredients for a 5-7 yr shelf-life. I want it for longterm storage. Thanks!
Hi Lea, the food that lasts for 15-25 years has been sealed in a factory and has the longest shelf life. Once you open those cans, the shelf life is only a year. To extend it I place them in canning jars and use my FoodSaver attachment to remove the oxygen. Sometimes I add oxygen absorbers instead. This gives what’s in the jar a 5-7 year shelf life. Unfortunately, even the best home appliance or oxygen absorber cannot match what can be done by the manufacturer.
I love this idea! Adding it to the rotation. How many servings would you say you get from this recipe as is?
What can we use if there is no veloute powder?