In today's world of tight schedules and hurried life, it would be nice if there were a convenient way to have home-cooked meals that were portable. In fact, there is a way. You can make up a batch of meals in jars once a week or once a month and have a supply of breakfasts or lunches at your fingertips. In addition, you have control over making them nutritious meals and saving money on dining out as well.
Meals in jars consist of almost any food you want. Make up a frittata and portion it into jars instead of a baking dish. Cold foods like dry cereals and salads lend themselves very well to be meals in jars. Bake fruit breads and cupcakes in jars for dessert, as well as pies and cobblers in jars. Use your imagination to come up with meals that fit your taste and budget.
Use small, half-pint jars for individual portions. Canning jars are the best because they are made to withstand temperature changes well. Grease the jars in advance so the food will not stick and make cleanup difficult. For cooked hot food and cold meals in jars, spoon the food into the jar, let cool if necessary, seal and refrigerate. Pour hot puddings and mousses into clean jars instead of ramekins then refrigerate normally. Put the lids on the jars after they have set. Bake cupcakes, fruitbreads, cobblers, casseroles and pies right in the jars. Let the baked goods cool to room temperature before putting the lids on. Store meals in jars in the refrigerator.
To reheat meals in a jar that you want to eat warm, remove the lids and place them in a microwave oven on the “Reheat” setting. Rotate and stir frequently. If you use an oven or toaster oven to reheat them, place them in the oven when it is cold then turn on the heat. This helps ensure that the glass will not suffer thermal shock and crack. Check and stir often. Eat the meal right out of the jar.
In addition to having your own meals in jars at the ready, baked specialties in jars make great homemade gifts. Let the items cool and put on the lid as usual. Tie a ribbon around the jar just under the rim and make a pretty bow. Print special labels with the name of the item and any instructions, such as “Keep refrigerated,” for the top of the lid, or include this information on a tag tied on with the ribbon.