Book Review: Dinner Is In The Jar

Please note: This is part of a series of reviews we are doing on food storage, emergency prep, and self-reliance type books. For more reviews click here.



 
Dinner Is In The Jar
Quick, Easy Dinner Mixes in Mason Jars or Mylar Bags
by Kathy Clark

Background: If you know Jodi and me, you would be surprised at how much we differ, while being very similar at the same time.  When my husband and I met, he told Jodi (his sister) – “I met a girl I know you’re going to like- she’s just like YOU!” When it comes to cooking, meal planning and recipes however; the only thing we have in common is our deep and abiding love for Cadbury mini-eggs- which you would know about if you were a Facebook Fan.  Anyways, I’m SO not into recipes. I wing meal planning, make things up, and barely measure stuff.   Since incorporating food storage into my daily cooking however, I have found myself using more recipes and was even EXCITED to review this book.   “Dinner Is In The Jar” is filled with meal mix recipes that can be easily stored in mason jars or mylar bags.  By following the instructions, recipes, and guides you can create a suppy of easily prepared dinners using food storage ingredients for emergencies and convenience.  A lot of the recipes have add-ons like meat, or cheese for when you are actually making them, but most of the ingredients are in fact “In The Jar”.

What I Liked: What I liked most about this book is the simplicity and instructions.  Each recipe has a list of ingredients to put in your mason jar or mylar bag.  With each recipes comes a page with labels you can photocopy that have the instructions for actually cooking the meal when the time comes.  I also liked a lot of the meal ideas.  They were meals that you would like eating and that sounded N-O-R-M-A-L.  I’m not into fancy hard recipes.

label

Favorite Tip: My favorite tip is the step-by-step instructions on how to use mylar bags instead of mason jars.  Mason jars can be expensive and using mylar bags is a great alternative.  Kathy even suggests giving these as gifts and I could totally see myself decorating the labels, tying ribbons around them and using them as neighbor gifts come Christmas.

Feedback: If I had one suggestion for getting the most out of this book, I would plan on preparing the mixes in a group with friends, family members or neighbors. Some mixes require a lot of different spices or ingredients and I imagine buying the stuff in bulk would make it more cost effective.  If you don’t plan on making these in a group setting, then probably plan on making large quantity of a few recipes, rather then a few of each kind of recipe – did that makes sense?

Summary: For someone looking to make pre-made mixes and have easy to use instructions, recipes, and labels “Dinner In A Jar” is AWESOME!


  • Jeanie

    Would it be possible if you have freeze dried chicken or beef or turkey to put it in the jar with the ingredients rather than having it as an add on? If so, what would be the ratio in cups say for a pound of fresh ground beef ? Also if you have tomato power, how could you convert that for a can of tomato sauce etc? Thank you for your help.

    • Here are some tomato powder conversions for you – courtesy of our friend Misty at your own home store.Tomato Paste:

      2 parts powder to 1 part water
      6 T powder + 3 T water = one 6 oz can
      Tomato Sauce:

      1 parts powder to 3 parts water
      2/3 cup powder + 2 cups water = just a bit more than one 15 oz can Tomato Juice:

      1 part powder to 10 parts water
      3/4 cup powder + 8 cups water = one 64 oz bottle

      and for chicken

      Ratio of FD vs. Fresh:

      2 1/2 C. FD Chopped Chicken + 2 C. Water = 1 lb. Fresh Chicken

  • Terri

    I appriciate what Grant said, however, for me it is a place to start.  I plan on making the reciepe first and only making the ones we like for longer term storage.  The only thing I found troubling was there was not a list of online places to purchase some of the dried items.  I live in the interior of Alaska and while we have alot avalible to us, there are also many things that are not and have to be purchased online.  I have found many of the items I needed online but am not sure that I have found the best prices and quality.  If anyone has some ideas of the better web sites to purchase dried items, I would appreciate them.!

    • Terri, I haven’t done a price comparison, especially taking shipping into
      account, but I know that Shelf Reliance has recently started selling
      directly to Alaska for some items. Their quality is very high and the
      products are fantastic. We really love their food. You can get discounts
      on their products by using our special link too. Just go to
      http://jodiandjulie.shelfreliance.com and then click the “BUY” tab and
      underneath that there is an option to pick the Alaska website. Hope that
      helps!

    • Terri, I haven’t done a price comparison, especially taking shipping into
      account, but I know that Shelf Reliance has recently started selling
      directly to Alaska for some items. Their quality is very high and the
      products are fantastic. We really love their food. You can get discounts
      on their products by using our special link too. Just go to
      http://jodiandjulie.shelfreliance.com and then click the “BUY” tab and
      underneath that there is an option to pick the Alaska website. Hope that
      helps!

    • Terri, I haven’t done a price comparison, especially taking shipping into
      account, but I know that Shelf Reliance has recently started selling
      directly to Alaska for some items. Their quality is very high and the
      products are fantastic. We really love their food. You can get discounts
      on their products by using our special link too. Just go to
      http://jodiandjulie.shelfreliance.com and then click the “BUY” tab and
      underneath that there is an option to pick the Alaska website. Hope that
      helps!

    • Terri, I haven’t done a price comparison, especially taking shipping into
      account, but I know that Shelf Reliance has recently started selling
      directly to Alaska for some items. Their quality is very high and the
      products are fantastic. We really love their food. You can get discounts
      on their products by using our special link too. Just go to
      http://jodiandjulie.shelfreliance.com and then click the “BUY” tab and
      underneath that there is an option to pick the Alaska website. Hope that
      helps!

  • Grant

    I liked the book but returned to Amazon because it had ONLY 36 recipes, which could have been one of your handouts. Wouldn’t open again after I used the three recipes I liked. I agree with Lacey, there are better books for the buck to put on my 4 shelves of cookbooks.

    I recommend:

    it’s In the Bag by Michelle & Trent Snow [207 pages] Has lots of recipes, well organized and easy to use.

    Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover [332 pages] This book allows you to have pre-made mixes that you use in lots of recipes, included. I put the mix printed on the container so I can refill it without getting the book out. I also have my daily recipes taped inside my cupboard. My favorites I just pull out the book and it’s made.
    If you don’t need an instant meal, but a fast way to throw together a meal, This is IT..

  • Grant

    I liked the book but returned to Amazon because it had ONLY 36 recipes, which could have been one of your handouts. Wouldn’t open again after I used the three recipes I liked. I agree with Lacey, there are better books for the buck to put on my 4 shelves of cookbooks.

    I recommend:

    it’s In the Bag by Michelle & Trent Snow [207 pages] Has lots of recipes, well organized and easy to use.

    Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover [332 pages] This book allows you to have pre-made mixes that you use in lots of recipes, included. I put the mix printed on the container so I can refill it without getting the book out. I also have my daily recipes taped inside my cupboard. My favorites I just pull out the book and it’s made.
    If you don’t need an instant meal, but a fast way to throw together a meal, This is IT..

    • Which recipes did you like?  I have the same problem.  I loved the Taco Soup but was not impressed with the potato soup.  Consequently I am trying to cook all of them up at my house before a get together with friends in a week.  Wish that all of the recipes were golden for the price!

  • Grant

    I liked the book but returned to Amazon because it had ONLY 36 recipes, which could have been one of your handouts. Wouldn’t open again after I used the three recipes I liked. I agree with Lacey, there are better books for the buck to put on my 4 shelves of cookbooks.

    I recommend:

    it’s In the Bag by Michelle & Trent Snow [207 pages] Has lots of recipes, well organized and easy to use.

    Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover [332 pages] This book allows you to have pre-made mixes that you use in lots of recipes, included. I put the mix printed on the container so I can refill it without getting the book out. I also have my daily recipes taped inside my cupboard. My favorites I just pull out the book and it’s made.
    If you don’t need an instant meal, but a fast way to throw together a meal, This is IT..

  • Lacey

    I bought this book, and I think I will do an alternate way of storing meals. I like the idea of having meals where I open a few cans, add spices, maybe some pasta, canned veggies and voila!–it’s done in a few minutes. I think I could put a few recipes together and put the cans and other ingredients (probably vacuum sealed) in bags with the recipe on the bag. For me that is much easier. I even thought of buying those cute little military metal can openers to add to the bags just in case there is no electricity for can openers.

    The book was interesting, especially the photos using the mylar bags. One thing I would have liked to know is how many servings there were in the recipes. I would have to cook one to see how much food there is, and probably adjust to fit our family.

    Overall, this book is one of several I bought off of Amazon, and I liked it. It was a little pricey for the number of recipes there were, in my opinion. There are more recipes in the Gifts in a Jar series of books, and they are cheaper.

  • Does anyone know how many people these meals feed? We have seven children aged 18 down to 1… I’d hate to think I had a 30 day food supply and find out I only had two weeks (you get the idea.)

  • Michelle

    I didn’t see this in the article, but if you put an oxygen packet in either the mylar bag or mason jar (only if you use a new lid), it will stay good as long as the shortest shelf like ingredient, like Jodi said, so you don’t need a food saver if you don’t have access to one.

  • L3sle4

    Okay, so never mind my last question, it was answered earlier…I had decided to go with the ingredient that went out of date first, and that was also a suggestion…I have just bought this book, and it's FABULOUS!! I will be getting some friends together to make some of these up pretty soon, and will also be displaying these to some of the members who don't feel they have enough space for storing food. Love it!

  • L3sle4

    How long do the Dinner in a Jar meals last unopened?

  • Anonymous

    Okay, so never mind my last question, it was answered earlier…I had decided to go with the ingredient that went out of date first, and that was also a suggestion…I have just bought this book, and it’s FABULOUS!! I will be getting some friends together to make some of these up pretty soon, and will also be displaying these to some of the members who don’t feel they have enough space for storing food. Love it!

  • Anonymous

    How long do the Dinner in a Jar meals last unopened?

  • L3sle4

    Okay, so never mind my last question, it was answered earlier…I had decided to go with the ingredient that went out of date first, and that was also a suggestion…I have just bought this book, and it's FABULOUS!! I will be getting some friends together to make some of these up pretty soon, and will also be displaying these to some of the members who don't feel they have enough space for storing food. Love it!

  • L3sle4

    How long do the Dinner in a Jar meals last unopened?

  • My understanding was that Mylar is aluminum and wouldn't contain BPA, I am definitely not an expert though so I could be wrong. We agree that reusable jars are a great option but like Julie said in the review, if it's just something you can't afford at the moment it's better to do SOMETHING and at least use Mylar bags and get started rather than do nothing because you can't afford the jars.

  • I would take the shortest shelf-life ingredient and use that. Also it would depend on how you preserved it. If you use a foodsaver and suck the oxygen out of the jar i bet it would get a longer shelf life. And mylar bags can extend shelf life since they keep the foods protected from the light.

  • I'm going to put this on my wall. Thanks.

  • I'm going to put this on my wall. Thanks.

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • “Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”(Barry Goldwater)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve probably sampled half of the recipes in this book after family members have prepared them and I can confirm that the meals are definitely yummy, and a healthy alternative to fast foods, and a great way to utilize food storage ingredients. I’ve shared the book with friends who’ve enjoyed making and eating the meals listed in the book.

  • Robert5770

    I've probably sampled half of the recipes in this book after family members have prepared them and I can confirm that the meals are definitely yummy, and a healthy alternative to fast foods, and a great way to utilize food storage ingredients. I've shared the book with friends who've enjoyed making and eating the meals listed in the book.

  • Natalie

    The only question I have is about longivity (sp?). I use a lot of jar books for gifts and stuff, some recipes have become my own favorites, but how long would you plan to store these for? It seems different ingredients have different “life span”. Would you suggest it for 1 yr?

    • I would take the shortest shelf-life ingredient and use that. Also it would depend on how you preserved it. If you use a foodsaver and suck the oxygen out of the jar i bet it would get a longer shelf life. And mylar bags can extend shelf life since they keep the foods protected from the light.

      • Michelle

        I didn’t see this in the article, but if you put an oxygen packet in either the mylar bag or mason jar (only if you use a new lid), it will stay good as long as the shortest shelf like ingredient, like Jodi said, so you don’t need a food saver if you don’t have access to one.

  • Kaytee

    ” Mason jars can be expensive and using mylar bags is a great alternative. ”

    Mylar is a plastic, and with all the recent findings about how plastics release toxic chemicals (like BPA) into food and drinks– even the “food safe” ones– I think it would be better to invest in REUSABLE jars. More ecologically sound, too.

    • My understanding was that Mylar is aluminum and wouldn’t contain BPA, I am definitely not an expert though so I could be wrong. We agree that reusable jars are a great option but like Julie said in the review, if it’s just something you can’t afford at the moment it’s better to do SOMETHING and at least use Mylar bags and get started rather than do nothing because you can’t afford the jars.

      • Mylar is a “metalized plastic”– yes, with aluminum as the metal. However, eating aluminum isn’t a good idea, either.

    • Also, mylar bags are also reusable.

      • Mylar bags are reusable to a degree, but every time you re-seal them you lose storage volume. Same for the bags that come with “vacuum sealers”. To open them, you need to cut below the seal, to re-use, you need to seal below the cut.
        Glass jars retain the same volume. Also, you can use non-canning jars with a vacuum sealer, if you can get ones the canning lids fit (some do)

  • Natalie

    The only question I have is about longivity (sp?). I use a lot of jar books for gifts and stuff, some recipes have become my own favorites, but how long would you plan to store these for? It seems different ingredients have different “life span”. Would you suggest it for 1 yr?

  • Kaytee

    ” Mason jars can be expensive and using mylar bags is a great alternative. “

    Mylar is a plastic, and with all the recent findings about how plastics release toxic chemicals (like BPA) into food and drinks– even the “food safe” ones– I think it would be better to invest in REUSABLE jars. More ecologically sound, too.

  • Sorry for the double-post, our import feature appears to be a bit messed up.

  • Sorry for the double-post, our import feature appears to be a bit messed up.

  • Joyce

    I just bought this book too! I like how “normal” the recipes are as well. Nothing you would have to bribe your kids to eat.:) I haven’t tried any of the dishes yet, but I’m looking forward to it. The book has inspired me to adapt a number of my own recipes to the same concept. My mind is actually racing with ideas!

  • Joyce

    I just bought this book too! I like how “normal” the recipes are as well. Nothing you would have to bribe your kids to eat.:) I haven't tried any of the dishes yet, but I'm looking forward to it. The book has inspired me to adapt a number of my own recipes to the same concept. My mind is actually racing with ideas!

  • Anonymous

    I never thought of this. Right now my mother and I get together and make 25 meals each a month so that we do not have to cook just pull something out of the freezer and thaw and cook the meal in the oven. It has saved me because I have 5 toddlers and getting time in the kitchen to cook dinner does not happen. I am new to this food storage but I am have started and I am excited about what my food storage will look like in a couple more months of buying items for it.

  • jenniferwilcoxson

    I never thought of this. Right now my mother and I get together and make 25 meals each a month so that we do not have to cook just pull something out of the freezer and thaw and cook the meal in the oven. It has saved me because I have 5 toddlers and getting time in the kitchen to cook dinner does not happen. I am new to this food storage but I am have started and I am excited about what my food storage will look like in a couple more months of buying items for it.

  • Annette

    Thanks for this post, it’s what I’ve been waiting for. I saw a video on youtube about putting meals in mylar bags, and I bought one of the books they suggested only to find out it didn’t have what I wanted at all. I can’t wait to check this one out!

  • Annette

    Thanks for this post, it's what I've been waiting for. I saw a video on youtube about putting meals in mylar bags, and I bought one of the books they suggested only to find out it didn't have what I wanted at all. I can't wait to check this one out!