Meals in Jars

This is what I have been busy with this week. Dick and I have continued with our joint book. That is moving ahead. I have also been blogging about being a full timer and handling, or better avoiding, severe weather. This got me thinking again about being stuck somewhere awful, like post hurricane, without access to a grocery store or bank. We normally keep our cupboard well stocked enough that we should be able to last for three days just on what we have. Problem is, I am concerned about what if it was longer than that? Our friend Jack got stuck for more than three days during tropical storm Deborah. I decided the smart thing to do is have a week of food for an emergency. This should be safe, easy to access food that requires a minimum of cooking, just in case.

I looked into MRE (military style ready to eat meals). I decided not for me. They are insanely expensive and don’t look very appetizing. They also seem a bit silly. Honestly, do I really need to keep dehydrated prepared military food? We will never touch them and in 25 or 10 or whatever years we will just toss them. If life as we know comes to an end then a few MREs are not going to help. We old people are the first to die. Military MREs for us are just crazy. If things get that bad I think, I would prefer dying of starvation.

I then considered making my own version of MREs. I started with menus for homemade MREs that are based on ready to eat combos of stuff like raman noodles and package entres. One look at the salt levels and the other gunk in those turned me right off. Hubby dearest pointed out that the portion sizes are also very small.

The next possibility is making my own MREs from scratch. Which begs the question of storage in what form? We live in a travel trailer. Wight and storage are always at a premium. I usually have at least one or two frozen meals for those days I just don’t feel like cooking. Problem is our freezer space is severely limited. I then did a general search and came across a bunch of recipes for “meal in a jar”. These come in two types. Type 1 is a set of dry ingredients that altogether make up a whole meal if you just add the liquids, water eggs milk ect and cook. Those are actually a great idea and I may try some yet. But what really caught my eye was home canned meals. At our elevation anything like a meat stew has to be cooked for an extended period at 10 pounds pressure or risk getting botulism. As luck would have it, it’s also canning season and Canadian Tire had a pressure cooker and canning supplies on sale.

I used to have a pressure cooker. It was big clunky thing that with an old fashioned gauge and weighed a ton. When I sold it at a garage sale to a Hutterite woman, I thought, good riddance. I do know how to use a pressure cooker. I did pressure canning years before in the days when I had a huge garden and very little money. Pressure cookers have improved a lot since those days. One nice thing it this pressure cooker is not a heavy cooker. It’s startling lightweight aluminium. I also found another nice little addition to the canning hobby during my shopping. I have a nice twelve quart stackable holding case. This will give me the stability and protection for the jars that I need so that they travel well. Overall weight is tolerable.

While shopping I found some 30% off chicken breasts on the bone in a large package. I stripped the meat off and put it in smaller portions of meat for stir fry and future dinners. All the bones and scraps I collected in one container for soup. I also searched the supper market for good quality fresh veggies in season and low priced. I walked away with green peppers, celery, spinach, carrots, and then there were a bunch of green onions from what is left of my pot garden. This morning I chopped veggies, and chopped and chopped and chopped again. One bowl of chopped veggies went back into the fridge for stir fry supper. The rest I used to make enough chicken soup with tons of fresh veggies to fill my small crock pot and a single one quart test jar. The pressure cooking is currently hissing and spitting its way through the seventy minute high pressure cycle for killing botulism. One part of chicken soup will be for eating tomorrow when the temperature is supposed to be cold. The other will be frozen for future use. And I will have one sealed quart chicken soup that will require only reheating and will keep for about one year.

The plan is I will keep making soups and stews and each time add more quart jars until I have twelve jars in my container. I will then have good food, in a convenient form, made the way I like it, in storage just in case we hit a hurricane or blizzard and we’re stuck unable to get out. And as long as I keep rotating the jars and keep making more fresh jars as I do, I will also have convenient ready meals for those days I can’t face cooking. And if “life as we know it” does come to end I will have a 12 homemade meals worth eating before the end.

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