We have all been there before: The cupboards and fridge are empty of anything that looks like a meal, but suddenly you remember that you have some meals stored in jars! Long-term meal storage in jars can be a life saver, both in terms of having something to eat on the fly but also being able to save money, store energy and even be creative with what’s available in the pantry.
This is why we are so excited to bring you The Ultimate Guide to Long-Term Storage: 21 Fast and Healthy Meals in a Jar! From salads to vegan casseroles, soups to main dishes, these recipes have it all and offer the perfect combination of convenience and nutrition for those times you need a meal in a pinch. Plus all of the meals are made with jars so, after all the ingredients are combined, the jar can be stored, making clean up a breeze.
Whether you’re aiming to save money, reduce kitchen waste, or be healthier and more organized, these 21 meal ideas are here to help. So, let’s get started, let’s get ready, and create irresistibly delicious meals for now and for later!
Quick Breakdown of Key Point
There are many delicious and nutritious meals you can make and store in jars for long-term storage. Ideas include vegetable bolognese, chickpea curry, vegan chili, lentil sloppy joes, roasted red pepper soup, and zucchini lasagna.
What are Healthy Meals in a Jar?
Mason jar meals have become increasingly popular for those looking for convenient, healthy meal options. With the right ingredients, a wide array of delicious meals can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer. Healthy meals in a jar consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins that are chopped, diced, or layered in airtight containers. Not only is this way of meal-prepping incredibly practical, but also it has numerous nutritional benefits as well.
Typically, meals in a jar promote eating more fruits and vegetables by preparing them ahead of time. This ensures a balanced diet filled with natural sources of vitamins and minerals that may be missing from store bought foods. While packaged items are certainly convenient, they often contain extra unnecessary sugars, fats, and salts which can contribute to unhealthy snacking. Preparing meals in jars gives the freedom to choose exactly what goes into the recipe; allowing for better control over food quality and calorie intake. And since healthy meal ingredients are seasonal and change throughout the year, using mason jars can also help introduce exciting flavors as produce availability changes.
On the other hand, some people question if mason jar meals really are as nutritious as many believe them to be. While there is no denying that properly storing food with the right combination of fruits, vegetables and proteins can provide essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthful diet; if not stored correctly bacterial growth can occur quickly leading to digestive distress or worse – food poisoning. If one chooses to take advantage of make-ahead meals in jars it’s important to practice safe storage techniques such as proper washing of all produce before use, refrigeration at suitable temperatures when needed, following expiration dates closely etc. So while meals-in-a-jar should not be considered a health panacea; taken with proper caution they do present an alternative that allows us to eat wholesome foods on busy days or traveling.
Now let’s investigate further into this phenomenon by examining the many benefits associated with meal prepping in mason jars from convenience to cost savings.
- Meal-prepping with glass jars can help you save money and reduce food waste.
- Eating healthy meals stored in jars can help you control your portions more easily when compared to plate servings.
- Research published in 2019 suggests that meal prepping with glass containers helps to increase vegetable intake, since fresh stored vegetables have increased nutrient retention compared to vacuum sealed packaging.
Benefits of Meal-Prepping in Mason Jars
Meal-prepping in Mason jars is a great way to stay organized and save money while ensuring that you always have nutritionally balanced meals on hand. With the right approach and some creativity, mason jar meals can provide convenience without sacrificing quality or health.
Probably the most obvious benefit of meal-prepping in jars is the storage efficiency they provide. By using airtight glass or plastic jars, it’s easy to make sure food doesn’t spoil before its time. It also eliminates the need for containers taking up space in your fridge, pantry, or freezer. Mason jars are also stackable and easily sealable, allowing for quick transport of your creations.
Other benefits include added convenience when compared to cooking individual meals from scratch every night. Pre-loading meals into Mason jars allows for quick preparation with minimal effort. Plus, portion control is easier when meals are already put together and stored so there’s no extra temptation! At the same time, having meals on hand is more reliable than relying on takeout or whatever’s close by when you’re running low on additional food options.
It’s important to note that while meal-prepping in jars can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, it isn’t always wise to overcommit yourself without first considering all of the details such as budget, ingredients, and recipes that suit your needs. Those unwilling or unable to invest time into planning out meals may find meal-prepping too cumbersome for their lifestyle.
With that said, if done correctly and with consideration of various variables such as budget and health goals, meal prepping can become an invaluable part of a successful nutrition plan designed to simplify life overall. Continuing this discussion on how best to store and label these mason jar meals for weeks in advance will further discuss this topic – so let’s move onto that next!
Storing & Labeling Jars for Weeks in Advance
When it comes to preparing jars for weeks of meals ahead of time, there are a handful of options available. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; the method or methods you use will depend on your lifestyle and the resources available to you.
For starters, if your kitchen has enough counter or shelf space, you can simply stack them on the counter or in layers on open shelves. This is an easy, straightforward way to keep your meal jars accessible and organized. It is also important to make sure that any sharp edges or corners are covered with padding so that your jars do not become damaged.
If counter or shelf space is at a premium, you may want to invest in some additional storage solutions such as bins and drawers specifically designed for meal prep containers. These bins and drawers come in a variety of sizes, making it easy to store multiple jars at once while conserving valuable countertop and cabinet space. Plus, they offer an added layer of protection against spills and messes.
When working with a lot of meals in jars, labeling them properly is essential. You can use masking tape and marker to quickly label each jar with its contents and date prepared if desired. If you prefer a cleaner look, there are many labels available that can be printed out specifically for this purpose. The key is finding what works best for you.
No matter how you decide to store and label your jars, doing so properly allows you to easily refer back to their contents when needed and reduces the chance of spoiling because the meals were not stored correctly or labeled appropriately. With all this in mind, let’s move onto the next section about 21 fast & healthy meals in a jar!
21 Fast & Healthy Meals in a Jar
Meal-prepping and stocking your pantry with meals in a jar are growing trends for those looking to save time and money while eating healthy. With the help of some mason jars and a few kitchen staples, you can turn just about anything into an easy meal that you can keep for several days or freeze for long-term storage. From omelettes to chili, here are 21 fast and healthy meal-in-a-jar recipes you should try.
Start by layering grains like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta at the bottom of your jar. Fill it with vegetables, like bell peppers and mushrooms, then place a protein on top such as turkey sausage or hard boiled eggs. Try topping off your layers with a sauce like tahini or pesto for extra flavor. To make your meals even more creative, mix up the ingredients so you can create all kinds of inventive dishes in minutes.
Meal prepping in jars can be an excellent way to save time during the week without compromising your health goals. Packing meals ahead of time will help you stick to your plan and prevent unhealthy snacks from sneaking into your diet. On the other hand, some argue that meal prepping can be expensive and unsustainable when done too often. By researching local farmers markets or organic delivery services, however, you can get access to fresh produce at reasonable costs while reducing packaging waste along the way.
Creating your own meals in a jar can be a great way to guarantee a healthy and delicious meal time after time with minimal effort — perfect for busy weeknights or preparing lunches in advance. With that in mind, let’s move on to some quick and easy weeknight meal ideas that are sure to make anyone’s dinner rotation exciting.
Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals
Quick and easy weeknight meal options are essential for busy lives. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day and having to figure out what to whip up for dinner. Finding simple, healthy meals that can both be thrown together quickly and taste great is the ultimate goal.
A convenient option for these types of meals is the jar. The variety of ingredients you can store in a jar that yield delicious, healthy meals is countless. From finished dishes with quinoa and black beans to grocery store hacks like pre-chopped vegetables and salad kits, the possibilities with jars are almost endless.
Having quick recipes to make use of Mason jars can be a major time saver as well. Plus, with little actual cooking involved, you don’t need to spend hours hovering over a hot stove – an added plus on busy weeknights where time is of the essence. Instead, you can mix and match different ingredients in your pantry to create diverse meals while saving space in the fridge.
The benefit of prepping meal-specific recipes in these jars is washing fewer dishes afterwards. Since many can be prepped in advance and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to eat, all you need to do at dinner time is heat it up and enjoy – leaving minimal dishes behind for you to clean up afterwards.
However, some may argue that storing your meals for too long can leave your food less than optimal tasting and texture wise. Jars are made for storage which might mean sacrificing freshness unless served upon creation for balance tastewise While this can depend on variables like ingredients and individual tastes, by creating something from scratch every night with fresh ingredients may help you get maximum flavor out of any dish while kicking off more creative cooking projects along the way!
Regardless of whether quickness or freshness are more important to you when it comes to weeknight meals, jaring up your meal elements ahead of time can save time and reduce stress on busy nights. Now let’s transition into understanding what kitchen staples are necessary for meal-prepping with jars – so you have ideas ready each weeknight!
Kitchen Staples Needed for Meal-Prepping
Meal-prepping can be a great way to save time, money and reduce stress while also ensuring you have easy access to nutritious meals. Preparing meals in jars makes meal-prepping even easier, as all you need to do is portion out your ingredients, screw on the lids and store away! To get started with this type of meal-prepping, it’s important to stock up on some kitchen staples that will help make long-term storage simpler and more efficient.
When it comes to meal-prepping with jars, one of the most crucial items is a container for each individual meal. While mason jars are popular, there are many other types available, such as Ball jars, Weck jars and Kilner jars. Choosing the right one may depend on how long you plan on storing your meals and whether or not you need them to be air-tight.
Another must-have item is an airtight sealer or lid. Without it, there’s no way to guarantee that the contents of the jar will remain fresh and safe from moisture, pests and odors. If you choose mason jars as your containers than regular lids work just fine; however, if you opt for other varieties of jars then specialized seals may be necessary for an airtight fit.
A thermal cooker, such as an Instant Pot or Crockpot could also come in handy when meal prepping. Not only does it make cooking much quicker and easier but these types of cookers can create heat more evenly than boiling water, which helps preserve the nutrients in food. They are also compact enough to store away easily when not in use. Lastly, having basic kitchen items like measuring cups and spoons can help ensure accurate portions while providing convenience while serving or eating the meal later on.
Using these tools can help make long-term storage simpler and more efficient for those looking to meal-prep with jars. Now let’s move onto our next section: Long Term Storage Tips & Ideas!
Long Term Storage Tips & Ideas
Long term storage of pre-prepared meals in jars is an invaluable convenience for busy families and individuals. However, done incorrectly it can cause food to spoil quickly and result in a waste of resources. Understanding the best ways to pack, store and use this type of meal will ensure that they stay as fresh and delicious as possible for several weeks or months.
For starters, when packing meals into jars, be sure to either Cook the foods first or keep them separate until you are ready to serve. This ensures that they do not spoil while stored. You should also remember to always follow expiration dates on perishable ingredients. This helps avoid eating expired or spoiled food down the line. Additionally, make sure the jars are fully sealed before putting them away. Moisture is a common issue with long-term storage in jars, so pick a storage area that does not have too much humidity or exposure to moisture that could encourage mold growth.
In terms of storing the jars themselves, consider your environment carefully. Heat can cause problems as well—common sense would tell you to not leave them out in direct sunlight all day! If your kitchen gets very warm throughout the day, think about moving the jars to a cooler area such as a basement or garage during hot days. It is also a good idea to rotate your stock regularly—check back every couple of weeks and make sure no jar has been forgotten about for too long!
Finally, some people debate if freezing meals will prolong their shelf life or not. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you choose to freeze your meals or not; frozen meals require more careful thawing in order to avoid bacteria proliferation or contamination, so if you chose this form of storage be aware of this added risk factor.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy convenient, delicious meals without worrying about spoilage! To summarize what has been discussed before we move on to our conclusion: pack food properly, remember expiration dates (check regularly!), store in an appropriate environment and rotate stock as necessary. Now let’s move onto our conclusion…
Long term storage of pre-prepared meals in jars is an invaluable convenience for busy families and individuals, but can spoil quickly and result in a waste of resources if done incorrectly. To avoid spoilage and preserve maximum freshness and flavor, one should Cook the foods first or keep them separate until ready to serve, always follow expiration dates on perishable ingredients, make sure the jars are fully sealed before storage, store them in an area that is cool and not exposed to too much humidity, rotate their stock regularly, and be aware of the added risk factor of frozen meals when thawing.
Creating meals in a jar, or as some may call it: meal prepping, is an excellent way to store meals for long-term use and enjoy healthy eating options. Preparing these meals will save time during the week, reduce food waste and make it easier to stick to a healthful diet. The recipes provided do not require advanced cooking skills and can be made quickly with simple pantry staples.
When making a meal in a jar, consider which ingredients are best suited for a long-term storage environment. Compartmentalize ingredients that are cooked before being added to the jar and include lots of protein and vegetables on top of carbohydrates. Make sure to choose items such as whole grains, lean meats and fresh produce for the most nutritious meal possible.
The vast array of combinations available makes this type of meal prepping incredibly versatile. Even if you only have one hour to put together your jars full of meals for the week, you can still create delicious, nutrient-packed entrees without compromising flavor or your budget. Furthermore, these meals can also be customized so they fit almost any food preference or dietary restriction you may have.
Overall, meal prepping using jars is a simple yet effective way to keep track of what you’re consuming while taking the stress off mealtime preparation and decision-making throughout the week—allowing you to focus on more important things.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered
What are the best ingredients to use when storing meals in jars?
When storing meals in jars, it is best to use ingredients that are nutrient-dense, shelf-stable, and have a long shelf life. Protein sources such as dried beans and lentils, hardy vegetables like carrots, beets, and Brussels sprouts, and whole grains like quinoa and steel-cut oats can all contribute to a healthy meal stored in a jar. Nonperishable pantry items like canned tuna or salmon, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and nuts are also great ingredients to include in meals stored in jars. Finally, adding healthy fats such as olive oil or nut oils helps to enhance the flavor of the dish. By combining these shelf-stable ingredients with fresh herbs, spices, and other condiments as needed, meals stored in jars can be nutritious and delicious.
What types of meals can be kept in jars for long-term storage?
When it comes to meals that can be stored in jars for long-term storage, the possibilities are endless! From hearty soups, stews, and chilis to healthy salads, bean dishes, and even vegan desserts, virtually any meal can be kept in jars. Because glass jars keep air and moisture out, they’re perfect for maintaining freshness and flavor. In addition to being able to eat right out of the jar, you can also use them to bake with! Whether you opt for oven-safe wide-mouth jars made of heat proof tempered glass or just regular Mason jars covered with a baking sheet before placing them in the oven, this ensures that your meal is kept safe while baking. Finally, with no fear of freezer burn or spoiled food because of air exposure, jars are an excellent option for those looking to invest in long-term storage meals.
How long can meals be kept in jars for long-term storage?
Meals stored in jars can be kept for long-term storage for anywhere between 6 months and 5 years, depending on the type of food being stored. For best results with long-term storage, you’ll want to properly seal your jars and store them in a cool and dark location. Meats should be vacuum sealed to ensure freshness, while fruits and vegetables can be preserved in various solutions, such as brine or vinegar. Vacuum sealing drastically increases the shelf life of foods, so whenever possible it is recommended over traditional canning methods. Additionally, it is important to check the seals of your jars occasionally to make sure that no air has entered; otherwise, the food may spoil faster than intended.