Best 3 Meals in a Jar Recipes that Are Ready in Less than 15 Minutes

I told you I’d be completing two projects this month as part of National Preparedness Month. The first was my powerless laundry experiment, and today I’d like to share the other project: 3 of the best meals in a jar recipes.

I’ve put together three quick meals that can be made in 15 minutes or less and have them sitting in my pantry.  The concept behind these is similar to freezer cooking: get most of the work done ahead of time so you can just pull out a meal and with minimal prep have it on the table for dinner shortly. Now, you can fill your stomach without waiting and avoid that time-consuming preparation.

Jar Meals Recipes

Why Prepare Meals in a Jar in Advance

But there are a few benefits to these meals in a jar as opposed to freezer meals: (1) They don’t have to be kept in the freezer because they are shelf-stable!  That saves precious freezer space. (2) There is no thaw time required.  You can “forget” about dinner all day, and then have a meal on the table in 15 minutes using these meals. (3)  There is very little prep time to put the meals together originally since all your freeze-dried veggies/meat are prepped for you (plus, they are super healthy)!

Whooo Hooo!  No more spending hours prepping veggies and meat.  These meals took me a total of 10 minutes to put together (or just about 3 minutes per meal) and they are now just sitting on a shelf in my pantry ready to be made up for a quick dinner one night!

jar meals in Pantry

I’ve wanted to do this for some time for a lot of reasons:

1.  Prepare Meals in a Jar for Crazy Nights

I try to avoid eating out for dinner for our family because of the cost.  I also feel that mealtime around the table is important for our family.  But truth be told, there are just some nights I do not feel like cooking.  Sometimes I’m sick.  Other times, I’m just tired or have had a bad day, or am running late.  Maybe I’ve forgotten to thaw out meat.  Sound familiar to anyone?  I like having a few meals ready to go…no thinking is required…just add water and heat, and we are eating yummy, healthy food at the same time it would have taken to go through the drive-thru at Mcdonald’s.

2. Easy Mason Jar Meals for Husband

Another time I plan to use these “quick meals” is when I go out of town.  Occasionally, I am out of town for a day or two for business.  These are easy, healthy, but familiar meals that my husband can make in minutes with minimal instructions.  Or, if we go out of town together (which we tend to do once a year), I can leave these meals for the sitter (typically my Mom) to help save her sanity!

3. Prepare in Advance Meals in a Jar for Date Nights

These meals would also work well for just an average date night.  I don’t usually want to cook up a big separate meal for my kids if my husband and I are going out to eat, but I don’t necessarily want to feed them cereal or pizza either (though that has happened more than once!).  With these meals, either I or the sitter can whip something tasty and healthy without much effort.

4. Meals in a Jar Are Suitable for a Natural Disaster

If our family were to be faced with a serious natural disaster, I’d use these meals for the first few days.  I like these because they are REAL food, with REAL calories and REAL nutrients…all of which we’d need for extra energy in the cleanup effort following such an incident.  In addition, they are familiar meals for our family which would bring some comfort in a stressful situation like that.  Last, they are easy and quick!  Time will be valuable in a disaster situation, but with these meals, I could use a variety of powerless cooking options, and we’d be eating in minutes.

For my meals, I chose three meals that we eat rather often at our house.  I can combine all the ingredients beforehand and just add water (and heat for two of them).  Here is what I chose:

3 Easy Meals In a Jar Recipes

1. Spaghetti in a Jar

This is hands down our family’s all-time favorite meal.  All six of us love it…especially this particular sauce.  You could also just do a jar of prego with some noodles and maybe some freeze-dried sausage or ground beef if you don’t want to make your own sauce!  Original recipe here: The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.

Spaghetti meal in a jar

Add the following ingredients to a jar (in the following order):

  • 1/2 cup tomato powder
  • 1.5 tsp freeze-dried parsley
  • 1.5 tsp freeze-dried basil
  • 1.5 tsp freeze-dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp freeze-dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp freeze-dried onion
  • 1.5 – 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup freeze-dried sausage crumbles
  • 1/ 2-1 cup freeze-dried mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2-1 cup freeze-dried tomato diced (optional)

Place oxygen absorber in jar and seal lid as tightly as you can.  Add a note to the jar that says,

“Add 4 cups water.  Simmer until sausage is hydrated.  Serve over spaghetti noodles”

2. Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup?   I think this is the only soup that everyone in our family really enjoys.  Much heartier and healthier than Campbells!  (-; 

Add the following ingredients to a jar (in the following order):

Place oxygen absorber in jar and seal lid as tightly as you can.  Add a note to the jar that says,

“Add 8 cups water.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add noodles and 1 cup water.  Simmer for 10 more minutes.”

3. Chicken Salad in a Jar

This one would work well for lunch or dinner and doesn’t even require heat to eat it, so we could eat it even if we couldn’t find our powerless cooking options after a disaster.  Feel free to change up the veggies and fruit you add to your salad to suit your tastes.  Original Recipe Here:  10 Minute Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

Add the following ingredients to a jar:

Place oxygen absorber in jar and seal lid as tightly as you can.  Add a note to the jar that says,

” Add 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cold water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup mayo if desired.  Serve with bread or crackers.”


Suggested Read: One Jar Meal

What’s Your Favorite Meal in a Jar Recipe?

How about you?  How do you feed your family on busy nights or when you are out of town? Personally, I want to try making Vegetable Barley Beef Soup. I’m sure everybody will love it!

Do you want to try one of these recipes? Or have you created your own style of stuffing a meal in a jar? Let us know in the comments section below and share your thoughts!

You might also wanna check out other related topics like A 72 Hour Kit For Staying at HOME, Best Dried Food, Food Storage Comparison, and more on our website.

Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

44 thoughts on “Best 3 Meals in a Jar Recipes that Are Ready in Less than 15 Minutes”

  1. This made me realize we need to do some of these for my daughter. She has a lot of food restrictions so even if we had help from an emergency agency she wouldn’t be able to eat most of the food. I’m going to put some jars together for her. Thanks

  2. Can you mix freeze dried foods with dehydrated foods in the same “meal in a jar”, or should they be made up in separate jars and then mixed before serving?

  3. I have a husband who uses oxygen 24-7. I’ve been wondering how people handle that problem when there is no power for the oxygen concentrator that fills his oxygen bottle. I have thought about a generator, but they are so expensive!

    • Yes, generators are expensive. A smaller one should do the trick though. I haven’t heard of another option for situations like that.

    • Head to your nearest hospital, they usually have emergency power. You could also make sure you have an extra full bottle of oxygen on hand.

      • Great idea Betsy! I think having an extra bottle of oxygen would be a really wise thing as hospitals may be over-run / difficult to get to.

      • I know this is a late response, but in case anyone else is reading:

        Speak to the home health company you use. They should be able to provide an H-cylinder, which would last a couple of days (assuming you use 2 lpm). The tank is quite large, and is generally on a wheeled cart. An H-cylider is often provided when there is a concern about power outages.

  4. Misty, I will be doing some of these meals up. Brilliant Idea , Thank you for sharing . I have been following your blog for a little while and it has been a real source of help to me , informational and other wise . Matilda

  5. I don’t understand why you would need to cook “husband meal” for when your husband is at home alone. Can’t he cook his own damn pasta ?

    I would’nt marry a guy who’s virility is too fragile to cook his own meal. I am not his mother.

    • My husband is actually a wonderful man and not fragile at all. He can cook his own meals. (-: But I also understand that for anyone who isn’t used to caring for four young kids (heck, even for me and I”m used to it), dinner can be a very stressful time. I like to make that a bit easier for him when he graciously takes over (usually after a long day at work) so I can rest, go out with friends, go on a business trip or whatever. He is great and we work to support each other. 🙂

  6. Hi! This is absolutely wonderful – my hubby is deployed and lacking food options so he will be grateful for a little taste of home. My first question is in regards to the oxygen absorbers??? I’m new to this canning thing, obviously 🙂 I clicked your link to amazon and they are listed in multiple cc’s options (100, 300, 2000!) – which would I choose? My second question is in regards to adapting this to my family recipes. Can I do this for anything as long as I substitute in freeze dried items for fresh (and of course adjust amounts to a single or double serving size)? Thanks in advance for your help!!

    • Hi Samantha! 100 cc’s would be fine for a jar this size. As for substituting, yes, you can pretty much do a one to one on most freeze dried foods since they don’t shrink like dehydrated. You can find a veggie conversion chart here. There is also a book that Thrive Life put out which is very helpful. It includes tips for most freeze dried foods as well as conversions. You can find that here. Good luck! I”m sure your husband will love them!

      • Misty, You should really put out something about the oxygen absorbers. I bought a bag a while back and have no idea what to do with them. Perfect example of a woman overwhelmed by all of this.

        How do you know how many cc’s to use for the size of the container. I would assume it depends on the size, moisture content, etc. This is very confusing to me.


        • That is a great idea for a post Regina! In the meantime, the general rule is 300cc’s per gallon (by volume) of product. Moisture content shouldn’t matter much since oxygen absorbers only remove oxygen and not water. Well, let me rephrase that. You shouldn’t be packaging anything with a an oxygen absorber if it has a high moisture content. Even brown rice etc. Here is a great article from another blogger named Gaye: https://www.backdoorsurvival.com/survival-basics-oxygen-absorbers/

  7. Have you tried making the spaghetti sauce with less brown sugar? If so, was the recipe still flavorful? Your recipe looks like it would taste great, but I am a diabetic.

    • The sugar just balances the acidity of the tomatoes Betty (plus, I do like a bit of sweetness in my sauce). But you can balance acidity with well caramelized onions as well. Or, try adding some finely diced carrots or celery!

      • Your idea about the addition of carrots sound delicious. I will add some of the dehydrated carrots to your recipe and omit the brown sugar. Also, I will add a little bit of stevia powder. Sounds good. Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Misty – great ideas, tools, and instructions as always – thanks! I may have missed it in your post but wonder what the shelf life is for the 3 ‘meals-in-a-jar’ that you listed?

    Thanks again!

    • Sorry for the delayed response MOlly. I kinda checked out over the holiday! 2 years if sealed appropriately in a jar with an oxygen absorber!

  9. Can you use home dried foods? I have some of this already dried, tomatoes especially. Would home dried meats work, are they dry enough to last?

    • I guess ultimately it depends on what you mean by dried foods Becca. Do you mean dehydrated? Dehydrated foods are very different from freeze dried foods. For example, a sun dried tomato is very different from a freeze dried tomato. They don’t hydrate the same at all. Same with meat. Jerky is completely different from freeze dried meats. I don’t even know if they would hydrate. You can read more about the diffferences (and see pictures) here: https://simplefamilypreparedness.com/2011/03/freeze-dried-vs-dehydrated-foods.html

      I would think you could make meals in a jar with some dehydrated products though as long as they hydrate okay (like dehydrated carrots do), but you’d have to adjust the amount (use less than what is listed above since dehydrated products shrink when dried and freeze dried don’t) and add more water (they take more water to hydrate).

      I hope that helps!

    • Hi Jen! Freeze drying at home is extremely expensive and truly, not very effective. There are machines that will do it, but they are costly. The least expensive one I”ve found is nearly $5000 (https://harvestright.com/store/freeze-dryer-stainless-steel.html) and some are as much as $20000. I’ve never used one, but I”ve been told that they remove far less water (and are therefore less effective) that the commercial freeze dryers that the brands use. The foods I link to in this post are all freeze dried and the cost is reasonable. Most (not quite all) cost about what you’d pay at the grocery store for the same amount of fresh food, but you don’t have to invest the time and money into drying them yourself. I hope that helps! Let me know if you still have questions!

  10. As usual, another helpful posting. I just want to make sure: on the chicken salad recipe, we simmer the ingredients together in 8 cups of water and do those ingredients absorb all that water or will we have a good bit to poor off? Would these sealed jars hold for a while, like maybe up to a year? I’m thinking these would be great to give to my dad. Since my step-mother passed away, he’s tried to do better at making healthy meals for himself, but it’s been a struggle for him. These three recipes seem perfect to give to an older person who isn’t so handy in the kitchen…okay, for younger people who aren’t handy in the kitchen, too!


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