Here are some of our favorite meals in a jar ideas for easy, ready to eat, homemade to-go food for families who insist on nutritious meals even when they’re busy. From dance class to lunch bags, these meals in a jar will keep the family full and happy. As a bonus, I’ve included my favorite curry mayo recipe that goes well with many of the recipes in this post. As ANOTHER bonus, we’re introducing you to Kristy Bernardo’s latest book, Weeknight Keto!
This post WILL be helpful to you if you’re looking for meals in a jar that:
- feature healthy proteins and veggies
- are primarily low-carb/Keto
- put together so they’re ready to cook or take out the door as is
- contain a lot of homemade ingredients
- feed a lot of people
This post WILL NOT be helpful to you if you’re looking for meals in a jar that:
- feature lots of carbs
- are dry/just add water
- contains a lot of store bought ingredients
I won’t be offended if that is what you’re looking for and you go off to look for what you need. Have a great day!
Why Keto or Low Carb Meals in a Jar?
I’ve chosen to focus on lower carb, higher protein ideas because so often my family uses meals in a jar when we’re involved in the physically demanding disciplines of dance and martial arts. Keto meals are guaranteed to fill a body without burdening it with sugars and grains.
“…the Keto lifestyle has brought a lot of good things into my life. It’s helped me keep my weight in check, the heartburn that plagued me almost 24 hours a day has disappeared and I just feel better.”
Weeknight Keto for Quick Meals in a Jar
The whole purpose of Kristy’s book, Weeknight Keto, is to make low carb meals quick and easy for any family. As she points out in her introduction,
“Speaking as a mom of two teenagers, my daily life gets pretty hectic. Those busy days and nights can make preparing a meal feel like a chore even for me, who passionately loves to cook! These recipes are my easy weeknight go-to meals. Many of them have portions that can be made ahead of time,too, making them almost as easy as opening a box and running a microwave.”
The point is not to just throw together anything for our family to eat while they’re on the run. We want to give our family truly nourishing, healthy food ESPECIALLY when they’re busy and on the go. The busy times are precisely when we need healthy meals the most to keep us well and our immune systems functioning.
To learn more about Weeknight Keto and to get your own copy, please visit this link from Amazon.
When to Use Meals in a Jar?
I firmly believe that it’s important to eat dinner together as a family as many nights a week as you can. Studies have repeatedly shown that children who have regular family meals have healthier relationships with their families and with their food. You can read about the proven benefits of the family dinner hour below. If you’re struggling to make it happen or to see great results from it, I’ve included five ways to make the dinner hour a joy instead of all out war.
—->>>Read 5 Ways to Improve the Family Dinner Hour<<<—-
Still, some nights we’re simply not all home! Our family home educates but sometimes I wonder where the HOME in homeschooling can be found? It can feel like we’re never here with:
- music lessons
- dance lessons
- voice lessons
- church activities and classes
- service projects
Here are some other times you and I might need these ready to eat meals in a jar:
- lunch at the office or school
- road trips
- field trips
- late for work or school
- cooking for one or two people
- feeding a crowd, especially of kids
- to set up at night and bake in the morning – remember, canning jars are heat resistant (just remember to remove the lid)!
The truth is, because of the make ahead nature of meals in a jar, you can really use them every day!
Meals in a Jar Recipes
The first recipe I’m going to share with you is from us here at Homestead Lady. This is my favorite homemade mayonnaise recipe – a simple curry mayo. I don’t enjoy commercial mayo but I could eat homemade with spoon! To learn how to make basic homemade mayo (it’s even lower carb!), please visit the post below.
—->>>Click for Homemade Mayo Recipe<<<—-
The added touch of curry in this recipe gives it a little more depth and tang. Watch this short instructional video and then read the recipe. If you have questions, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
- 2 tsp. Lemon juice
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
- 1 tsp. Curry powder
- 1 Cup Avocado oil - or any light oil
- Add the ingredients in the order they appear in this recipe into a wide mouth canning jar. Put them in one at a time.
- Let the ingredients rest for a few seconds while you prepare your immersion blender.
- Place the immersion blender into the canning jar until it rests on the bottom. Switch to High and begin to blend, staying at the bottom of the jar for a few seconds.
- Once the curry mayo has started to emulsify (turn lighter and thicker), slowly bring the blender to the top of the jar, blending any loose oil as you go.
- Perform a gentle up and down motion until all the ingredients are incorporated fully.
- Keep refrigerated for about two weeks or use right away.
Sometimes your mayo will refuse to fully thicken. This is because the emulsion (or mixture) has broken. To prevent this, be sure to do the following:
- Make sure ALL your equipment is CLEAN and DRY.
- Use an immersion blender - avoid a stand blender.
- Allow the ingredients to rest before blending.
- Do not add too much juice or oil - be precise in your measurements.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes your emulsion will break. We offer some advice in our recipe for regular Homemade Mayonnaise. Be advised, we tried these methods and sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. Because of that, we also include in that article some advice for using up failed homemade mayo.
- Place a bed of fresh greens in the bottom of your pint or quart canning jar.
- Add a hearty dose of your curried salad.
- Place a lid on top – I prefer to use the plastic reusable lids that Mason brand makes.
- Be sure to include an ice pack or use a cooler with your mason jar meal in order to keep bad bacteria from forming in your food as it waits to be eaten.
You could use this curry mayo to replace the Buffalo sauce mentioned below from Weeknight Keto if you want a different flavor.
Remember, if you need troubleshooting advice for your mayonnaise making, you can visit our recipe for homemade mayonnaise below. We include ideas on what to do with failed mayonnaise because, hey, it happens sometimes. We also show you which immersion blender we use.
—->>>Read how to make Homemade Mayonnaise – Plus Troubleshooting<<<—-
Weeknight Keto Suggestions for Meals in a Jar
Speaking of Weeknight Keto, use your copy to visually scan it for recipes that would work easily as a meal in a jar. If you’re still waiting for your copy to arrive, I can help you out with a short list. Any of these recipes Kristy has created would work well transported (and a few even baked!) in a canning jar:
- Baked Garlic Shrimp
- Cottage Pie
- Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese
- Zucchini Noodle Lasagna
- Mexican Chicken Cauliflower Rice Bowls
- Buffalo Chicken Egg Salad Bowls
The Buffalo Chicken Egg Salad Bowls is the first thing we made from Kristy’s 75 recipes and it did, indeed, get put into canning jars and taken to dance class. It was a big hit and filled my athletes bellies for the night!
And, incidentally, don’t forget dessert to include in your mason jar meal. Kristy can help you with that, too, as shown below. Holy cow, does that look good!
To Transport Meals in a Jar
Once you’ve filled them, it’s really important to keep your mason jar meals safe from damage or food spoilage. Using a portable container like glass means you’re not using plastic – yay you! However, glass is breakable, so you’ll want to use some caution. Here are some ideas:
- When packing one jar into a lunch bag for a girl, simply wrap it in a kitchen towel. Then, pack other food around it and include an ice pack of some kind. If you’re putting into the lunch bag of a boy, first place the jar into a sock and then wrap it in a kitchen towel. Why? Uh, boys do crazy stuff with their backpacks. Ask me how I know. An added layer of protection can keep the glass from breaking. If either child uses their bag as a weapon, soccer ball or baseball diamond, then there’s nothing I can suggest that will help. The jar is toast.
- When you’re feeding a lot of people on the go, I suggest using the box the mason jars can in for packing the food up to go. The boxes come with cardboard dividers so each jar has it’s own safe place to rest. If you can, use a hot box like the one I have featured in this article (Off Grid Cooking Methods) to keep your food either warm or hot. The hot box acts as an insulator for whatever temperature the food already is. It’s like a big bean bag chair but for food, not sitting.
- If you’re taking a mason jar meal to the office or some place you regularly go, I suggest investing in a small ice chest. These are sturdy, reusable and design to keep food cool.
Other Meals in a Jar Ideas
Goodness knows I love the Internet for inspiration beyond my cookbooks. Here are some tasty ideas for more meals in a jar.