The Secret to Leaving Home: A mother’s getaway plan

Mason Jar Meal Tip #3: Design beautiful mason jar meal options for your family before leaving town.

Feed them. That’s the secret. Make it simple. Let there be options. Let there be treats. Let there be healthy choices. Last weekend I went away to my parent’s home in Smith Mountain Lake, me, myself, and I. Not only was it my Birthday Weekend, but my Auntie Josie, Ma’s sister was in town and I wanted to see her. The one major thing I have learned from leaving my Hubby in charge is to make his life easier by having the fridge filled with readily designed meals and food options for quick and easy meals. Yeah he can cook, but when you are left behind with three children with very full schedules, every little thing helps. I knew he would be busy with taking them to their lessons, baseball games, Boy Scout events, tutoring, haircuts, church, Sunday school, and practices. During the weekend I checked in at home to see how things were going and how the meals were working out. “Great,” said Himself, “right now Zuzu is having a chicken quesadilla, Daelyn is having a burger, and I am having chili.” He sounded like a short order cook at the local diner! I was thrilled they enjoyed the options.

It took about 90 minutes to prepare the bulk of the items, the brownies had been done the day before, and the Pastiera pulled from the freezer, but the payoff was full lunch boxes, fully bellies, and a happy family. Hopefully they can’t wait until I leave again…

Top Shelf
1/3 pound each raw pastured hamburger patties
One pound organic un-cured bacon
Pasta
Chili
Homemade Rotisserie Chicken- pulled

Options: Bacon Cheeseburgers, bacon and eggs, bacon butties, chili mac, chili nachos, my kids even like buttered pasta. For the chicken- quesadillas, chicken salad, BBQ’d chicken sandwiches, chicken BLT’s. You get the idea.

Second Shelf
Lazy Lasagna
Kale Salad
Pastiera di Pepperoni– pulled a few from the freezer
Philly Cheesesteaks– cut rolls to length of 1/2 pint mason jar and fill with meat. I think I used 1.5 pounds of beef to make 6 sandwiches, wrapped them in waxed paper and placed in the jars. The kids microwave these in the paper for about 30 seconds.

Options: These options were for the lunch box and quick snacks. All war broke out when Daddy ate one of the kids’ cheesesteak. Heh heh.

Botton Shelf
4 ounce un-sweetened organic apple sauce snack cups sprinkled with cinnamon.
Sliced organic strawberries
Non-melting Mason Jar Bownie Sundaes

Options: This shelf was for healthy treats and sweet treats for their lunch boxes, after school snacks, or dessert.

Not Shown: In the crisper drawers were eggs, salad greens, raw carrots, celery, shredded and sliced cheese, and cucumbers. On the counter was bread, hamburger buns, tortillas, and bagels, along with apples, bananas, pears, and tomatoes.

Notes:
1. When making MJMs make enough for 3-5 days. Use smart judgement on how long to safely store jars of food. Once my food gets to the 3-5 day mark, and if it is freezable, it goes in the freezer, otherwise it must be eaten on CORN (clean out refrigerator night), or it gets tossed. I daily keep an eye on my jars, what needs to eaten right away and what can wait. Seafood always gets eaten within 24 hours of purchase unless frozen in which I allow it to defrost in the fridge 48 hours.

2. I freeze many of my MJMs and rotate into my fridge to provide more options.

3. Vary the portion sizes. Sometimes we work from a large quart jar and sometimes I break the foods down into smaller individual portions using 8 ounce or 4 ounce jars. The smaller sizes are perfect for the lunch box and the larger for family meals. If your family is even bigger, double the recipes and fill a few quart sized jars.

4. Cooking for 1 or 2? You have two choices here: 1. Make the recipe that feeds 4-6 and portion it out into smaller mason jars and freeze to rotate into future menu plans or 2. Cut recipes in half, enjoy for dinner and the next day for lunch. With the first option, if you do this enough times, you will enjoy a large variety of meals during the week, something that is often missed when cooking for one.

5. As you can see, some of my MJMs are complete meals in the jar and just need to be served with a side of fruit and veggies, while others are pieces to a meal, such as the bacon, chicken, pasta, and chili. By making both you are giving yourself a huge amount of options.

Other tips…
Tip #1
Tip #2

Not only is this great for when you go away, why not try it for when you are home?

Another way BRK is KEEPING IT GLASSY

17 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:21 AM | Permalink

    You have become a real pro at this. Happy Birthday

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

      Thank you Larry!

  2. Lori H
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:14 AM | Permalink

    Love this idea! And the fridge looks so organized too!

  3. Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    genius! i still have a while til i have to do a BIG fridge full of food, but i know what i’ll be doing when the time comes 🙂

  4. Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Love this idea! I recently started storing all my dry goods in my pantry in mason jars. Love the fridge idea.

  5. brandy
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    do you have two fridges? or is your fridge empty at the end of the week? or is all your normal stuff just hidden behind the MJMs? when i say normal stuff I don’t mean garbage food, i mean blocks of cheese, condiments (pickles, peppers) that sort of thing. or do you process EVERYTHING when you get home? i am trying to wrap my head around your fridge.

    i use MJs for my prepped lettuce (vacuum-sealed) and have recently been lamenting lack of storage options for larger amounts that need stored in the fridge. DUH – I need more jars!

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

      Hi Brandy,
      I do have 2 fridges but only use the second for entertaining and during the holidays. There is stuff behind the jars like sour cream and condiments, on the door are more condiments, sauces, salad dressings. I have two shelves above the big top shelf in the photo- pickles and such on a lazy susan. I have a meat and cheese drawer and two crisper drawers. By the time I got home on Monday the jars were almost gone and today I am slow replenishing- roasted a spaghetti squash and an acorn squash and made the kids whoppie pies, I have a roast beef to do later today too. So it ebbs and flows and I am learning to just keep replenishing as we eat things instead of waiting to do a big cook day. It is never perfect. More jars= less laundry. More laundry=less jars;-) So little time to do it all…

  6. Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    This is a great idea and everything is so organized and neat. Happy Birthday!!

  7. Coconut
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    Happy Belated Birthday to a Glassy Lady. LOL

    It’s been a while since I posted on here. Your new site design is lovely, very clean, sharp.

    (I do, however, miss seeing that picture of your kitchen at the top of each page.)

    You sure do have all aspects of managing everything down to a science, and an art.

    Well done, and with flair, as always. 🙂

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

      So good to hear from you! I hope you are doing well and your healthy eating has been beneficial to improving your health!

  8. Posted May 24, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    You are just so creative – one of these days I’ll make a MJM! Glad you had fun at SML.

    My brother is doing okay – he has about ten “good” days between when one chemo ends and one starts – he even has been back to work the last few days!

  9. Lauren N.
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    I would LOVE to see a how to start post!
    For example what sizes and shapes do you think are best,( I see a lot of wide mouth jars, But few flip tops?) About how many jars per person do you use in a week?
    What do you do to keep the lids from rusting? Etc

    Thank you for starting this awesome site

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

      Hi Lauren,
      Here is the page of all my mason jar meals and were to start. I have all sizes to that I can portion out meals for my family’s lunch boxes. I keep the supply of meals in the fridge going and rotating all the time, like if I am out of a jar of pulled roasted chicken I try to roast a chicken again within 2 days of running out. With that chicken I can make sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, etc. But check out this page for all my tips and recipes…

      http://www.bigredkitchen.com/recipes/mason-jar-meals/

      To prevent rusting, you have to dry them immediately after washing.
      Enjoy!
      Robin Sue

    • Posted June 5, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

      Here’s an idea for lids as well:
      http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Wide-Mouth-Plastic-Storage-8-Count/dp/B000SSN3L2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338903466&sr=8-1

      I use regular canning discs and rings, my reusable Tattler discs and rings and these basic plastic lids.

      I have found a dry erase marker on the lids or glass helps my family be able to find what seems obvious to me, but hard for them. 😉

  10. amanda kessens
    Posted June 6, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

    Do you have to sterilize the mason jars when cooking mason jar meals?

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 6, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      Nope, because I am not canning, only using the jars as storage just as I would tupperware.
      Enjoy!

  11. sheila
    Posted January 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the info, I have been wondering what I could do to cut down on food waste, why not save small amounts of various leftovers in the small jars freeze them, and pull out of freezer later to complete recipes or make meals. Complete meals could be taken to elderly or sick friends who would enjoy home cooking when they can’t cook.

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