A companion to the upcoming book of similar title, this blog gives recipes to make your own homemade and healthy Meals Ready to Eat. Whether you prepare these for survival in emergency situations or to provide healthy meals for work and camping/backpacking, or if you just need portion control for your diet, there are recipes here for nearly everyone! // ALL ingredients are dehydrated or freeze-dried, or shelf-stable, and all recipes are for one serving. // At least ONE new recipe will be added each week.

MRE Recipe: Caribbean Coconut Chicken

Caribbean Coconut Chicken: This is so delicious, nutritious and very filling. Yes, the coconut has fat, but it's a healthy fat. Eat this worry-free!
Dairy-Free. Gluten-Free. Make as spicy as you'd like. I personally don't care for a lot of spice but my husband can tolerate a lot!
Remember, all ingredients are shelf stable, freeze-dried and/or dehydrated.
Baggie 1:
1/2 cup instant rice (or rice you pre-cooked and dehydrated)
½ tsp turmeric (optional)

Baggie 2:
1/2 cup chicken dices
1 tbsp scallions
½ cup dehydrated strips of orange bell pepper [or red, yellow or green]
½ cup dehydrated carrot strips
1 tsp garlic flakes or powder
3 tbsp powdered coconut milk
3 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes
pinch hot red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste (we leave them out)

Rehydrate Baggie 1 with ½ cup boiling water (more or less).  Rehydrate Baggie 2 with 1 ½ cups boiling water.  Let sit until completely reconstituted.  Serve chicken mixture on top of rice.

1. Add ¼ cup of dehydrated halved cherry tomatoes to Baggie 2.  You will need to increase the amount of boiling water for this bag.  

2. Add 1 tbsp of tomato powder to Baggie 2.

Remember that all ingredients are freeze-dried, dehydrated, or otherwise, shelf-stable.

Be sure to let me know how you like this recipe!

Cost of Ingredients

We are almost out of freeze-dried beef chunks, beef crumbles, chicken and turkey, so I went online to take advantage of sales. Couldn't believe the prices! How much did I really spend last year when I got all of the meats plus other ingredients, like artichoke powder?

Money is really tight this year. Lots of medical problems, surgeries, and more. Can't afford to restock our meats. So what shall I do?

I hit the grocery store.
  • Cans of chicken and other meats now reside in our pantry. Including Spam (hubby's choice, not mine!)
  • We already had lots of tiny and whole grain pasta, instant rice and potato flakes.
  • Endless supplies of oats!
  • Have lots of spices.
  • I had bought, in the Spring, a giant bag of soup veggies from Vitamin Cottage, so in addition to those I dehydrated this past Summer, we're good for veggies.
  • Fruits, stocked up from dehydrating and from www.justtomatoes.com
My point is ... if you don't have the money to buy freeze-dried meats, look through your grocery store. Maybe buy some cheap fresh meats, cook and dehydrate according to your dehydrator's instructions.

There IS a way to eat healthy, on a budget, using shelf-stable ingredients.

So tomorrow's dinner...

No, wait! It's my son's birthday tomorrow.

THURSDAY's dinner is chicken noodle soup. Gonna make it in my big crockpot. Easy to take the ingredients to make over a campfire. You'll notice there is no onion in this. Yeah, my son doesn't like onion. I'll add some to mine and hubby's portion.
  • 1 can chicken
  • 1 box whole wheat rotini
  • 1 cup dehydrated soup vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon garlic granules (from Sam's)
  • Season to taste (sometimes I add turmeric because it's so healthy).
  • Add 4 cups of water. Stir. Heat until pasta is cooked through and al dente / tender.

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Sorry I haven't been posting regularly. Preparing for an upcoming knee replacement surgery. Please be patient!

Dehydrated Fruit

While I do dehydrate a lot of fruit for our snacking, desserts and oatmeal, there are certain things I buy ALWAYS from www.justtomatoes.com.  Have for many years!  Order soon, and use my discount code “BACK-TO-SCHOOL” for 15% off. And if you order over $100 worth of product (after the discount), then you get free shipping (ground).

So, yesterday, I made a bunch of oatmeal breakfasts for my husband. Enough for at least 3 ½ weeks for him. That’s when I noticed that I was running super-low on fruit powders. Today, I ordered some more, including a couple of fruits that I have trouble dehydrating.

Mango, whole
Raspberry, whole

Banana, powder
Blueberry, powder
Mango, powder
Peach, powder
Pineapple, powder
Raspberry, powder
Strawberry, powder
I didn’t order whole blackberries or blueberries because we still had plenty of those. I also usually order peas but when I was going through my storage, I found some.  I sometimes order tomato slices but I still have plenty from what I dehydrated last year.

They used to do mushrooms, scallions and others (I think they still do garlic) but they discontinued some things several years ago because of lack of interest. Join me in asking them for more vegetables. That survival and prepping for emergency people really need a good source of HEALTHY (no additives) vegetables, fruits and other ingredients. I just called and put in my request. Do the same! (800) 537-1985

What do I use all of the fruit for? My son needs more fruit in his diet, so he (almost daily) gets mango, blueberries and blackberries, and usually munches on peas as a snack. I munch on their “fruit salad” and raspberries , blue/blackberries, and mango, and, of course, what I dehydrate (plum, nectarine, peach, apple, banana, pineapple and grapes).
I also make delicious crumbles and other desserts.

As far as the powder, we use that to flavor oatmeal. We particularly love tropical oatmeal (powders – banana, mango, pineapple, plus coconut flakes), raspberry and cocoa (so yum), peach, and PB&J (peanut butter powder with raspberry, peach or strawberry powder).

Give some of these a try. Trust me, they make DELICIOUS foods. And so healthy.

p.s. I do not get any compensation of any kind from Just Tomatoes.

MIJ Diet: Lentil and Rice Soup

As my last post mentioned, I decided to help my weight loss along by using Meals In Jars (MIJ), aka Homemade Healthy MREs.

My "diet"  requirements:
  • gluten-free
  • tasty
  • filling
  • healthy
  • dairy-free (as much as possible)
  • low-sugar (pre-diabetic .. although I would rather use raw sugar and honey than asparatame!)
  • low-sodium (I have high blood pressure)
So, the other day, I made my go-to dinner for the family: lentil and rice soup. This time, I made it from mostly dehydrated or shelf-stable ingredients.
  • Lentils (pre-cooked and dehydrated)
  • Rice, Brown (instant)
  • Mixed Soup Veggies (I get these at the local Vitamin Cottage)
  • Garlic powder (NOT salt)
  • Chicken bouillon powder (low sodium)
Because I made this at home, I also added a dollop of bacon grease! I know, not the healthiest choice, but bacon makes otherwise bland meals quite delicious!

To make this yourself, use the same amount for rice as you do with lentils. Add a couple of tablespoons of mixed dried veggies, and season to taste.

VEGAN: eliminate the bacon grease!

Nutrition label for recipes

So many people have asked if I plan to calculate nutrition (calories, calcium, iron, carbs, etc) for my recipes, that I decided to do so!

While I won't be showing the nutrition for recipes here on this blog or in my facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/Mealsinjars/), I **WILL** be adding them to the books I'm writing.

Meanwhile, here's a link I found where you can, for free, calculate nutrition too.


MIJ Diet: Homemade MREs for Dieting

As some of you might know, I have a LOT of health problems. I can barely walk.  In November, I have a right knee replacement surgery scheduled.  A few months after, the left knee.

I have migraines, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, low potassium and magnesium, insomnia and other symptoms. PLUS, recently I was told the rheumatoid arthritis in my spine is so severe, that I will probably be in a wheelchair within the next 5-10 years.

That means no more farming. (We just have our tiny 2 acres but already we've sold our goat herd, with only chickens and turkeys remaining.). We will need to find a smaller place, closer to the city (Denver) for doctor appointments, therapies, and so my special needs son can get a job within walking or biking distance.

My only hope is to lose weight.  A LOT of weight! Like... another person-worth! When I weighed two weeks ago, I was down to 252 pounds (my highest was 299).

So, even tho I am changing the way I eat foods (more produce from our garden and more eggs, chicken and turkey from our farm), I decided to have more of my dehydrated / homemade and healthy MREs to my food plan. For the purposes of this posting, I'm calling it the "MIJ Diet" (Meals In Jars).  Gluten-free and low-sodium. 

Hubby needs to eat lunches with less sodium anyway, so he too will be eating more MIJ..

Son's epilepsy meds often cause his weight to jump around, so we need to more stabilize his weight, and get as much nutrition in him as possible, even tho he is a picky eater!

Help us be more healthy!

And maybe you too can be more healthy.

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About this Blog

Hi! I am writing a book of how to make your own homemade and healthy MREs ... Meals Ready to Eat. This blog is a companion to the book.

Benefits to making your own MREs? YOU control how much sodium you include in each recipe, how many veggies or fruits, how healthy or how decadent.

  • All recipes are single-serve (one serving per recipe).
  • All recipes use ingredients that are shelf-stable, like dehydrated, freeze-dried, bouillon cubes, powdered milk, tiny pasta, etc.
  • Amounts of water needed to reconstitute the recipe may vary according to the moisture content in your dehydrated / freeze-dried ingredients.
  • To make a pasta dish gluten-free, just use your pre-cooked-and-dehydrated gluten-free pasta instead of other pasta.
  • To make a dish dairy-free when a milk, butter, cheese or sour cream is called for, please substitute rice milk in place of milk or sour cream. There is no rich dairy-free dehydrated substitute for butter or cheese. Not that **I** know of. If you know of a source, please please let me know!


p.s. ... do you have any suggestions for recipes you'd like to see?

MRE RECIPE: Asian Beef with Broccoli

As you know, we love Asian food! This is a recipe that is a bit more complicated but it's worth it.  I use three separate bags for cooking this (you could use jars) so that the broccoli doesn't become mush and keeps its individual flavor. Same with the rice.  If you prefer, use white rice. And you could make your own beef broth/powdered bouillon instead of using a store-bought cube.

Remember, all of the recipes I am writing for my book are single serve, and use freeze-dried / dehydrated ingredients.

Bag/Jar 1:
1/2 cup precooked roast beef pieces
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tbsp brown sugar
(To reconstitute to thick, add 3/4 to 1 cup of boiling water, seal tightly, shake until well reconstituted, and set aside until ready to combine with the others.)

Bag/Jar 2:
1/2 cup broccoli
2 tbsp scallions
(To reconstitute, add 1/4 boiling water, seal tightly, and shake periodically.)

Bag/Jar 3:
1/2 cup instant brown rice
(Add 1/2 cup boiling water ... more or less to taste.)

Combine, or serve/eat separately. As always, salt and pepper to taste. Add liquid soy sauce if desired.

  • Dairy-Free: naturally
  • Gluten-Free: naturally, but check on your rice, bouillon, etc just to make sure.
  • Low-Carb: Eat this without the rice, and it'll be low-carb!
  • Low-Sugar: there really isn't a whole lot of brown sugar in this. If it's too much, feel free to take it out, or reduce.
  • Nightshade-free: naturally

MRE RECIPE: Finnish Turnip Casserole

I love this recipe for Finnish Turnip Casserole. (Hubby is Scandinavian.) This is a single-serve dish, best baked in a dish over a campfire, in a toaster oven or a kitchen oven. BUT combine the dehydrated ingredients ahead of time so it's ready any time. Place the bread crumbs in a tiny 2 oz plastic cup with lid (I get them at Wal-Mart), and put that in the bag of mixed ingredients before you seal it.

Note: You'l have to dehydrate the turnip yourself.

1 cup dehydrated shredded raw turnip
3 tbsp whole egg powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ginger powder
pinch ground nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste
4 tbsp breadcrumbs

Combine in small baking dish (ramekin) with 2 cups of boiling water and mix to a thick consistency. Top with breadcrumbs and bake until casserole top is brown.

Usually served with special meals, like for holidays.

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This is not the typical recipe. For my Homemade Healthy MRE recipe cookbook, I am including the usual soups, stews and so forth, but also am branching out to the unusual. Please comment below with any unusual recipe you would like me to write, using dehydrated ingredients.
  • Nightshade-Free: naturally

MRE RECIPE: Instant Pancakes

Easy to mix in a mug!
I love pancakes! Such a comfort food, not just for me, but also a lot of other people. My son prefers them with chocolate chips. You might like powdered bananas in them. Experiment!

4 cups all-purple flour
1 cup instant powdered milk (goat, cow, rice...your choice)
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup powdered buttermilk
1/2 cup butter powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbls whole egg powder
2 Tbls baking powder
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp baking soda
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Measure and sift the ingredients. Combine well. Store in an airtight/moisture-proof jar or baggie until needed. When ready to use, measure out 1 cup of dry mixture and add a little over 1/3 cup of water. Combine. Remember, it's ok to have lumps! Cook on a hot and sprayed griddle or frying pan as you would any other pancake, flipping when the first side bubbles and the edges become a little dry, about 2 minutes on each side. I like to top mine with instant or homemade jam.

MRE RECIPE: Cajun Gumbo

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of driving through Louisiana. I made a point to stop in the French Quarter, and tasted my first gumbo. So very yummy.

This recipe is so delicious and super-easy to make. Add freeze-dried cooked shrimp if you'd like. Spice it up or tone it down. Your choice.

1/4 cup instant rice (brown or white)
2 Tbs dried diced sausage
2 Tbs dried diced chicken
1 Tbs diced onion
1 Tbs diced bell pepper
1 Tbs diced celery
1 tsp powdered chicken broth (or 1 chicken bouillon cube)
1 tsp Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all and store in water-proof air-tight container/bag. When ready to eat, add 1-2 cups of boiling or very hot water. (Amount will depend if you want it soupy or quite thick.) Stir. Cover. Let sit approx 20 minutes, or until all ingredients have reconstituted.  Stir and enjoy!

If you can't find a freeze-dried or dehydrated version of your favorite sausage, do it yourself! Just thinly slice, cook, then drain/pat away every bit of fat, and dehydrate at a high temp. Check regularly to see if any more fat is accumulating, and if it is, pat it off.  When the sausage is super crispy and dry (not greasy), it should be ready.

Another Note:
Lots of people put okra in their gumbo. Finding dehydrated okra is impossible (if you know a source, please please tell us in the comments below!). So, here's a tip about dehydrating okra: freeze it. That way, it won't get all oooey goooey. So... freeze till almost solid, slice thinly, place on dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate at around 115 degrees F till crispy.  Frozen to dehydrated, with a brief stop in between.

  • Dairy-Free: naturally
  • Gluten-Free: naturally
  • Low-Carb: If you eliminate the rice, this is low-carb.
  • Low-Sugar: naturally
  • Nightshade-Free: If you eliminate the bell peppers, this is nightshade-free. Did I miss any other nightshade ingredient?

Chia Seeds

Hoping to start using chia seeds more in recipes because look how super-nutritious they are!

I wonder if I can grow them?

I wonder if I need to dehydrate them?

Hmmm... things to think about!

MRE RECIPE: Apple Pie Oatmeal

Apple Pie Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick oats
3 tsp apple dices
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1 tsp raw sugar (our preference ... use what you want)

(If desired, add 1 tsp cheddar cheese powder)

Combine all ingredients and seal in a small air-tight/watertight bag (I use jars or seal-a-meal or mylar).  When ready to make, rehydrate with 1 cup of very hot water, stir, let sit covered 10 minutes, stir and enjoy.

Gluten-Free: Use certified gluten-free oats for this!

I make this and other quick oatmeal breakfasts in large batches!  Very yummy.  For a burst of protein, add your favorite nuts, flax seeds or chia seeds. 

MRE RECIPE: Indian Pork with Apples and Eggplant

This dish is really made by the combination of cumin and cinnamon. Adjust hot chili pepper flakes to taste!

1/2 cup cubed pork loin or ham
1/2 cup apple dices
1/2 cup eggplant dices
1 tbsp hot chili pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp vinegar powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Combine and seal. When ready to eat, rehydrate all with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of boiling water. Should be a thick stew. Adjust seasonings as necessary.

  • Dairy-Free: naturally
  • Gluten-Free: naturally
  • Low-Sugar: naturally
  • You will probably have to dehydrate the eggplant dices yourself. Slice eggplant into long slices and grill until done. Cut into dices and dehydrate until crispy.

MRE RECIPE: Indian Chicken Curry - Murghkari

Woo doggy! This is yummy!

1 cup chicken dices
1/2 cup onion dices
1/4 cup tomato dices
2 tbsp tomato powder
2 tbsp milk powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp curry powder
s & p to taste

Combine and seal. When ready to prepare, add enough boiling water to make a thick creamy dish (approx 1 1/2 to 2 cups).  Serve with flatbread (naan) or rice. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

  • Dairy-Free: use rice or coconut milk powder instead of cow or goat milk powder.
  • Gluten-Free: naturally. Serve with rice instead of flatbread.
  • Low-Carb: naturally, if not served with bread or rice.
  • Low-Sugar: naturally.

Writing Recipes

Thought I would take a picture of my dining room table!

Here are my supplies (well, some of them!) and my notebook for writing ideas for recipes, then actually creating them for testing.