Momma Told Me: Consider Meals In A Jar for Easy Dinners This Busy Fall Season- With Recipes

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Consider Meals In A Jar for Easy Dinners This Busy Fall Season- With Recipes

Meals In A Jar
Momma Told Me: 10 minutes now, 2 minutes later.

Growing up Momma always had a lot of tricks up her sleeve, especially when it came to easy dinners that could really stretch a dollar. One of her favorite things to do was to prepare our favorite family meals in bulk, then freeze additional portions for the upcoming month. She'd do this with fried rice, lasagana, stroganoff, and more; turning hot sales from the weekly ads into extended savings for our household. With the beginning of a new school year, and our family's decision to join 3 Winter bowling leagues, I've been looking for some time, and money saving, inspiration as well. One of the things you'll find sprinkled throughout my Pinterest boards as of late are creative ideas for meals in a jar. No, I'm not referring to Chef Boyardee or anchovies, I'm talking about hand layered ingredients that instantly transform into delicious meals with the simple addition of a few added ingredients.
Chicken Noodle Soup In A Jar
Chicken Noodle Soup In A Jar
It's hardly molecular gastronomy; creating a delicious meal in a jar is as simple as breaking down some of your favorite recipes; especially those that hinge on various dry ingredients. A year ago there was a nasty outbreak of the seasonal flu spreading through our neighborhood. As one of the few houses not 'hit' yet by the bug I felt compelled to soothe those around me, and prepare for the inevitable outbreak in our own home. I wanted to make the traditional 'Chicken Noodle Soup,' but processing such a large quantity in my small kitchen would have proved a challenge. Instead I purchased a package of food safe canning (mason) jars from my local Smart & Final, along with the dry ingredients necessary to turn my family recipe into a ready to make mix. By purchasing the chain's First Street brand of in house products I was able to buy the ingredients in bulk, for easy handling and extreme savings.
Honey for Corn Bread In A Jar
Our family shops at Smart and Final year round for cooking staples like flour, salt, cornmeal, pancake/waffle batter, and more. However, we also frequent the chain for it's extensive range of food service buys, such as ramekins, paper cups, plastic Souffle Cups with Lids, canning supplies and more. On my recent trip I even found I could include a 4oz ladle with each of my yearly flu season soup bundles for just over $2 a piece! Inspired, I set out to share just how simple a home-style meal in jars truly can be. A lot of people think this means 'canning,' and, in a sense it does, but you can often avoid the preserving process by handling dry ingredients in sterile environments, and making 'freezer friendly' pre-cooked dishes, like my Mini Apple Pies in a Jar.
Mini Apple Pie In A Jar Process
Mini Apple Pie In A Jar
People make meals in a jar for a variety of reasons; some are looking for easy family dinners they can prepare during the busy week, while others are looking for heartfelt gifts to give during the holidays. Regardless of your reason my Comfort Foods Trio (Chicken Noodle Soup, Country Corn Bread, and Mini Apple Pies) are sure to help the cool Fall months, and treacherous flu season pass all the more pleasant. Begin with ample canning jars to store your meals in a jar, and a large work space such as a dining table. Buy your ingredients in bulk at a big buy store such as Smart & Final, and look for in house brands like First Street, to really stretch your pennies. Measuring will be key, so be sure to have measuring spoons and cups handy, as well as the appropriate size jars for the content that will be going in. And finally, before you begin, sanitize all of your canning jars in the dishwasher, or a hot water bath.
Mini Apple Pies In A Jar
Whether you are gifting your meals in a jar, or simply keeping them on hand in the pantry, you'll want to include the preparation instructions. Momma was always sure to pick out a decorative ribbon, and some scrap-booking sheets, from the local craft store, just for this purpose. If you have messy handwriting, or are making a large number of jars, you can print the simple instructions and paste them onto hand cut tags, though I prefer the personal touch of handwriting. Be sure to include a breakdown of the necessary added ingredients, and the ingredients already inside just in case your recipient has allergies! Cut a small slit at the edge of your handmade tags and run your ribbon through. Tie a gentle bow or not along the can's lid for decoration.
Meals In A Jar
Chicken Noodle Soup In A Jar
While you can find a variety of creative ideas for quick recipes in a jar, I've compiled the 3 featured above for easy reference. Chicken Noodle Soup, Country Corn Bread, and Mini Apple Pie in a jar recipes are perfect for the upcoming cool months and busy school nights. Creating affordable and flavorful meals in a jar doesn't have to be complicated; I've seen beautiful layered salads, and even instant oatmeal with dried fruit (just add water), you'd be surprised what can be pulled of with little ease. Just remember, the beauty in preparing these meals ahead of time is the money you can save when canning in bulk; buy quality brands like First Street and save money without compromising quality. See more of my great Smart and Final First Street finds in our Google + album.

Do you have a favorite Fall meal with a time/money saving twist?

What Daughter Says: Try a new method of advance meal preparation with meals in a jar to save money and time.


14 comments:

  1. That is such an awesome idea! So dang creative...and practical! I love the cut out heart in the Mini Apple Pie jar. :-) This is such a great gesture to give to someone who is sick. Do you happen to have recipes for all these items. :-) They all look so yummy.

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  2. ok this is way awesome! i love that you prepared these in jars its so cute and such a great way to prep meals ahead of time of give to friends and family. Love it!

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  3. We give meals in a jar at Christmas time. People really love to use them around the holidays because it's such a busy time of year.

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  4. I am in love with the idea of the pies in a jar. These will make great gifts for the holidays. I am pinning for future reference.

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  5. I absolutely love Meals in a jar!! I love getting them as gifts too! They make a meal preparation so easy! And they are meaningful and very cute. Plus they store well on the shelf for when it is needed.

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  6. Jodi, all of the recipes have printable links attached in the final paragraph of the post.

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  7. I have a whole cookbook of this "food" in a jar. It comes with labels and everything. I like even better that these are prinables

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  8. What wonderful gifts. I can only imagine how happy your recipients would be! There is nothing like chicken soup when colds hit - my mother always said it was the best cure! Your jars are beautiful too!

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  9. I have a housewarming to go to that this would be perfect for. I even have the perfect fabric to cover the lids with!

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  10. I love meals in a jar. They make great gifts -- to give or receive.

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  11. I love this idea, I'm definitely going to do it.

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  12. I love your food-related pics and posts - they just all look delicious. I wish I had the patience to make meals in a jar...or at least one of the cookie mix jars that I see on Pinterest.

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  13. What a great idea! My family aren't big soup eaters, but I was thinking that I should make some for myself to eat at lunch time. This would be a perfect way to be able to plan ahead of time!

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  14. I love all of these, especially the soup in a jar! What a great idea to give as a gift to someone who is sick (or maybe gets sick often). The Apple Pies look like so delicious :)

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