Mason Jar Meals: “Fast Food” for Preppers

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – canning is the perfect way to provide “fast food” for preppers.

Last night we got home from 2 days of traveling.  We were tired and hungry.  It was so nice to pop a lid off a jar and heat up a tasty, nutritious and filling meal in less than five minutes, without worrying about all of those nasty additives that a store-bought can of soup would contain.  The instant gratification from a home-canned meal is wonderful on a day that you just don’t feel like cooking, and invaluable when disaster strikes and you are unable to use your usual methods of preparing a meal.

You can preserve your own recipes easily – find the guidelines HERE.

Canning meat – HERE.

Canning beans – HERE

Soups, stews and chili can help you quickly produced a well-balanced meal.  Click the preserving tab at the top of the page for more recipes.

Some meals need only a quickly boiled carbohydrate like rice or pasta to make a satisfying meal at the drop of a hat – here are 3  tried-and-true canning recipes to enjoy…

Hungarian Goulash


  • 4 pounds of stewing meat (beef, pork, etc.)
  • 4 tbsp of REAL Hungarian paprika (must be the real stuff for an authentic flavor)
  • 2 tsp of dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 carrots, sliced into coins
  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of red wine vinegar
  • Water as needed


  1. In a bowl, mix Hungarian paprika, dry mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and begin to sauté your onions and garlic.
  3. Dip your stewing meat in the spice mixture, then place the meat in the stockpot to brown with the garlic and onions.  Brown lightly – the meat does not have to be thoroughly cooked.
  4. In quart jars, layer your meat and vegetable mixture, carrots, peppers and potatoes.
  5. Add 6 cups of water, vinegar and the jar of tomato paste to the stock pot and mix with any drippings or spices that remain after browning the meat.  Bring this mixture to a boil.
  6. Ladle hot liquid into sanitized jars over the layered contents.  Use a table knife to remove any air pockets in the jars. If necessary, top up with water, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
  7. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When heating your goulash, whisk in 1 tbsp of flour in order to thicken the sauce.  Once it is hot, stir in a half cup of sour cream or yogurt and heat only until the sour cream is warmed through.

Serve your goulash over egg noodles, potatoes, spaetzle or dumplings and don’t forget a side of fresh sour dough bread!

Beef Stroganoff


  • 3-4 pounds of stewing beef or sliced sirloin
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to deglaze pan


  1. In a large stockpot, sauté beef, onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter until lightly browned.
  2. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and enough water to deglaze the stockpot.  Use a metal utensil to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the flavorful pieces there.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and stir well, bringing to a boil.
  4. Ladle the stroganoff into sanitized jars, distributing the sauce evenly across the jars.
  5. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When you are ready to serve the beef stroganoff, stir 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt into the heated sauce.  Serve this over rice or noodles.

Chicken Cacciatore

The rich herbed tomato sauce and the tender chicken will not last long on the pantry shelves – as soon as you serve one jar of it, your family will beg you to make it again!

To make life even simpler, this is a raw-pack recipe!


  • 3 pounds of boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (a mix of breasts and thighs is nice)
  • 2 cups of red and green peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups of onion, cut into 8ths
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 2 tbsp of oregano
  • 2 tbsp of basil
  • 2 tbsp of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Layer chicken, peppers, onions, mushroom and garlic in quart jars.
  2. In a large stockpot bring wine, tomatoes, and herbs to a boil.  Ladle hot liquid over the layered ingredients in your sanitized jars.
  3. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When preparing the cacciatore, stir in a small can of tomato paste when heating to thicken the sauce.  Serve over pasta, with a side of garlic bread.

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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19 Comments  to  Mason Jar Meals: “Fast Food” for Preppers

  1. Catherine Trosan says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but in the above recipes, how many quarts do they make? Sound delicious and I have just started pressure canning. Thanks and love the site.

    • Daisy says:

      Catherine – I didn’t put the amounts because it really depends on personal preference, as well as the size that you cut up your meat. I will say APPROXIMATELY 6 quarts can be made from each recipe. I generally find, myself, when I cook from a recipe, that I end up with a little more or a little less than the recipe says I will. This can also come from variation of package sizes – I rarely find meat in packages that are precisely one pound, at least at our little local butcher shop. Sorry for the confusion!

      Thank you for the very kind words – if you have any questions about pressure canning, please feel free to ask and I’ll help if I can.
      :) Daisy

  2. Catherine Trosan says:

    Thank you so much for replying–can’t wait to try these!

  3. wheelerdealer says:

    stupid stupid stupid question since I am soooo new to all the canning. I’m accustomed to cooking in a slow cooker or cooking roasts, etc. for HOURS AND HOURS to get them tender. When you can a meal, it is cooked when you’re pressure cooking them in the jars? Was going to pick up a vacuum sealer machine and canning/pressure cooker if I can even find one in a store and not wait to order it.

    • Daisy says:

      Not a silly question at all! Yes, foods DO cook thoroughly in a pressure canner. If you’ve ever used a stovetop pressure cooker, you know how fast that can cook up a tender, juicy pot roast? It’s the exact same concept in your pressure canner. The only “fail” I’ve had was cooking beans in jars without soaking them first. However, if you soak them overnight before you can them, they cook perfectly. P)

      Please let me know if I can answer any other questions for you!

      ~ Daisy

  4. Heidi says:

    I stumbled upon you and I am going to devour all your different recipes for canning. I have a P canner but never used it yet because I am bit afraid of it. I am a whiz at jams, jellies, and pickles.
    I think I should choose one of these recipes up here, put them in jars and just go for it.

    • Daisy says:

      Hi, Heidi! Welcome!

      First, you aren’t alone in being worried about pressure canning. The first time I did it, I sent the kids off to school and put the dog outside, just so I’d be the only victim if I somehow blew the thing up. I think everyone is nervous about doing this. The risk is honestly very very low with the new pressure canners. There are a lot of safety features there!

      The how-to is right here:

      Please feel free to ask if you have ANY questions at all – pressure canning tech support, right here!


  5. CJ says:

    Those recipes sound delicious!!! I am currently looking into dried meals and trying to run my dehydrator as much as possible. It is exhausting to prep – but I wouldn’t live any other way!

  6. Judy M. says:

    Daisy, Thanks for the great sight and the many recipes and suggestions, they are great! I would like to say to all the new canners out there afraid to try! Don’t be afraid, it is so easy and you are not going to blow anything up. Read your pressure cooker book before starting. I have seen some people on youtube do some really stupid things and they are still here so fear not ! Also remember that in a severe situation you may not have water enough to prep dried or dehydrated meals right away so canning solves that problem. Just open and heat. I use all methods for storage and have for years. There is also a method of canning dried goods in the oven that also works great but it is only for dried goods. I can crackers this way. Put the crackers in sterilized jars and heat in the oven at 225 degrees for one hour and then take out and immediately apply lids and rings and set aside to cool. Be careful because the jars are very hot.

  7. Jen says:

    New to canning…Do you have to leave space at the top,of,the jars? Is there a standard space used unless otherwise noted,1″ maybe?

  8. Kathy says:

    The recipe calls for 1 bottle of red wine. How big of a bottle and what kind do you use? I haven’t canned with wine before. Does the taste of wine fade or get stronger depending on shelf life of the Cacciatore?

    • Daisy Luther says:

      Hi Kathy. I just use a standard bottle of wine – which is about 750 mLs or 25 ounces. I chose something fairly inexpensive for this recipe. In my opinion you can’t taste the wine at all, it just makes the sauce richer and more flavorful. I hope that you enjoy the Cacciatore – we love it! :)

  9. Miklos Bacsi says:


    True Hungarian Paprika is a hit and miss.
    I mean, I literally live in the great plains of Hungary, and they can range from not being spicy, to mediocre at best… if your lucky you actually get a good, tasty, spicy paprika… but they are all sold at the local market as “spicy paprika”.

    Suppose you mean the pre-packaged red powder?

    Also, they are not beef eaters… at all – literally.
    I know an American ex-pat that complains about this… the lack of beef.

    They are, however, big pig eaters… pigs are everywhere… pig in this, pig in that, they even have a deal to export pigs to China now. [Seriously.]

    So, “traditional”… no beef. :)

    Miklos Bacsi.

  10. Losier K. says:

    Yes, my friend. That is how you say. Great pork eaters, and are not beef. Traditional meals are not red meat.
    Although like any tradition, it is changed over time. This recipe is valid and very flavorful.

    See also:
    in Spanish (my country):


  11. Wanda Edwards says:

    Can I can cooked meals??????

  12. Tonya Maxwell says:

    I am so happy to have found this absolutely wonderful site! I was trying to find out if my raw honey would spoil…

    Thank you so much.. not only the answer I was really praying for, but so much more!

  13. sarah says:

    I have read a lot about canning whole meals and one thing that I have repeatedly heard is to use spices sparingly because they intensify during processing and storage. Do you have issues with these recipes being ‘to spiced’ after storage? Thank you for the great recipes – I will be trying them out shortly!

    • Daisy Luther says:

      I dialed it way back on the spices for that very reason. I haven’t had an issue with these, but some things that get horribly strong are : ham, sage, and rosemary. I don’t use sage or rosemary at all when canning, and I can ham but use it more as a condiment than a main dish.

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