When friends or family are unwell or in need of a little TLC, I always imagine myself turning up on their doorstep with a steaming hot casserole for their dinner. Does it ever happen? Rarely! Also, the timing needs to be right.
In an attempt to make this gift more convenient for everyone, I decided to investigate making a meal in a jar. This concept can get pretty tricky, with people using all sorts of weird dried vegetables, meats and condiments. I just wanted some simple ingredients that would be tasty on their own, store well and provide a base meal where fresh vegetables or meat can easily be added in at the time of eating for a more substantial meal if desired.
The meal in a jar keeps for a long time, so if they don’t get around to cooking it up for a few weeks, it will still be really delicious. They can just whip it out any night they please.
After much research, here are the meal in a jar options that I made:
Noodle soup in a jar mix (Dinosaur Soup!)
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup dried minced onions
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried basil
4 chicken bouillon cubes (I used 1/2 pkt chicken noodle soup)
3 cups of noodles ( enough to fill jar)
Layer all spices at bottom of a one quart (I used 500g) jar.
Place noodles on top of spices filling the jar.
Print this on a card for the recipient.
1 can diced tomatoes
8 cups of water
Place tomatoes and water in a soup pan and bring to a boil.
Add noddle soup mix and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Enjoy with a nice fresh salad and a crusty roll.
Enjoy soup with a loaf of french bread or garlic rolls.
I got this recipe from:
Lentil Soup Mix in a Jar (this will perfectly fill a 500 mL mason jar)
6 oz green lentils (just under a cup)
1 T curry powder
3 T dried minced onion
1/2 t garlic powder (I brain-farted and put 1t in all of mine….they are still good!)
1 T dried parsley
1 t kosher salt
5 oz red lentils (just under a cup)
2 T chopped dried apple
1. Layer ingredients. I like to put green lentils on the bottom, followed by seasonings, then red lentils, then as much chopped apple as I can fit under the lid.
2. Cooking instructions – add three jars of water and simmer 30 minutes (this instruction works no matter how you scale the recipe – 6 cups of water for a 500 mL mason jar, or 12 cups for a 1L mason jar).
Some lentils may need to simmer a bit longer, and people may want to puree the soup a bit (or add more water if they want a thinner soup). But the basic instruction is so simple and requires no extra ingredients and just one pot.
TIP: dried apples rings are a pain in the butt. I drop mine into a running food processor a few at a time. If you aren’t making a zillion jars, you could just hand chop them, but they are TOUGH.
If curry is not to your liking, here are a few alternate suggestions (omit the curry for all of these):
classic French – 2 t herbes de provence
italian – 1 t italian seasoning (or mix of basil, rosemary and oregano), 2 T chopped sundried tomatoes in lieu of apples
moroccan – 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t cardamom, 1/2 T cumin, dried cilantro in lieu of parsley, dried raisins and apricots in lieu of apples
southwest/mexican – 1 T chili powder, dried cilantro in lieu of parsley. Omit apples
I got this recipe from:
Cajun Dirty Rice Mix in a Jar Recipe
For the gift jar
one 1 pint jar (500ml) with a tight fitting lid
1 cup brown rice. (You can also use white rice, but reduce cooking time to 10-15 mins in the instructions)
2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large stock cube with its wrapping (or 1 tsp stock powder)
Layer the ingredients one at a time into the jar in this order – half the rice, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, remaining half of rice, wrapped stock cube.
Fit the lid on the jar and screw it on tight.
Write or print out these instructions on a thick piece of paper and attach to gift jar:
“Bring 2 cups of water plus the stock cube to a boil in a large sauce pan. Stir so the stock cube dissolves. When the water boils, add remaining contents of the jar. Stir. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 30 minutes or till the rice is cooked, but not mushy.
Serves 4 as a side dish.”
I got this recipe from:
Here is a PDF of the instructions and labels I made up for you to print (some are doubled-up, sorry about that!):Meal in a jar labels
Meal in a jar labels page 2
I printed out the labels for the jars and the tags which give the instructions for cooking the meal in a jar. The instructions were super simple and the meals quick to cook.
If you are re-using jars from pasta sauce or other food, you can deoderise and have the smell removed by rinsing with water and bicarb soda – see the how-to over here.
I made all three of these for two of my friends. One friend is going through chemotherapy and the other friend was about to have her third baby. These meal in a jar gifts have hopefully given my friends a few easy meals to enjoy with their families.
Note to self: I could make these and take them camping!! Aaahh Haaahhh!
I hope you are inspired to spread a little love around with these diy meal in a jar ideas. There are heaps of good ideas out there. Please let me know if you have discovered any good ones on your travels.