Mason Jar Meals

On Pinterest, I learned of a new way to save meals called Mason Jar Meals. The idea is to save homemade foods in mason jars to take for lunches, or simply save leftovers in a container that is microwave safe yet seal-able and secure.

At first, I was dubious. Glass? In my lunchbox? Could we say, "recipe for disaster?" Actually, no. While mason jars are made of glass, it's pretty darn sturdy glass. If I bang my lunchbox around that much, I deserve to have to starve for stupidity.

Same goes for microwaving a meal inside. Have some common sense and remove the lid. Cover with a paper towel, and nuke. Mason jars are made to be dunked in boiling liquid and remain there. Sturdy stuff, but fair warning-- the glass is an excellent conductor and food heats up pretty quickly. Don't boil your meal.

Okay, so I gave it a shot. Buying meals from fast food joints is more than bad for your diet, it's bad for your wallet. By making meals ahead of time like salads (put the dressing on the bottom and start layering!), soups, and leftovers I've saved a ton of money and lost seven pounds.What's more, I had tasty meals I know I could eat. Clogging up the stoma with fast food breading, pasta, and other methyl-ethyl-bad-stuff just doesn't happen.

Color me suitably impressed. My little half hour of lunch is fun again!

Now I'm beginning to experiment with certain known recipes, like Pepperoni Pizza Soup. In a large mixing bowl, add one can of tomato soup, one can of either milk or water (I like milk). Give it a good whisking. You can also mix this in a blender. Pour into mason jars to make individual servings. Layer into the jars shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and other things you like on your pizza. I added a few frozen pepper strips, some instant minced onion, and a grind or two of fresh Italian herbs.By the time I nuked the soup at work, the flavors had married into a delicious soup. It smelled so good people stopped by my desk to ask what I was eating for lunch!

The coolest thing so far was Pigs in Blankets. You see, you can also bake in your mason jars. No, they won't explode. Mason jars are made to be dunked in boiling water and sit there with hot jellies inside for 30 minutes or more. While the dry heat of an oven is slightly different, the heat resistance of the glass is great. Simply make up some corn bread mix (I used the little box of Jiffy with the ingredients called for on the package) and spoon some into the jars. Add a few sausages like Little Smokies or cut up a hot dog. Use Spam! Experiment. I used Little Smokies and didn't fill the pint jar. I knew I couldn't eat that much! Then poured in a little more bread mix to cover my Little Smokies. I put all the jars (4, in my case) on a cookie sheet and put them in a pre-heated oven. at 400F for about 20 minutes. Then I let the jars cool slightly before I screwed on the lids finger-tight without burning my fingers. Pretty soon, I heard the distinctive "pop" of the jar lids sealing down as the contents cooled. When they'd cooled completely, I had four jars of Pigs in Blankets. Amazingly yummy and filling, though definitely not Low Carb.

I've branched out and played a great deal. Most of the time, I've come back to salads and leftovers. Salads are easy meals, and I can always have my dressing in a separate container for dunking rather than the shaking method if I desire. Leftovers are even easier when they're a MJM. I can put the hot food in the jar, finger-tighten the lid, and wait for the POP! One sealed meal, waiting for me in the fridge. No more science experiments in the fridge because the glass makes a meal easy to see the contents. Sure, sometimes a not-so-pretty-in-the-jar meal is still delicious like French Onion Soup.

By the way, a great trick is to use a plastic box like a dollar-store shoebox or sweater box for holding your jars so none migrate to the back of the fridge. A wipe off pen makes a great label on top note, keeping the jar lid reusable. Here's my table full of mason jar meals set up by recipe on a Sunday. That way, I knew I would have enough jars and MJMs for the week ahead.


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