Meals in a Jar – Book Review

   Meals in a Jar is a book written by Julie Languille in 2013 and published by Ulysses Press.  Julie lives on Whidbey Island in Washington State and her bio indicates she owns a dinner planning website and is a preparedness and food storage workshop teacher.  I believe, although I am not sure, that Ms. Languille wrote The Prepper’s Pantry under the name of Anne Lange.

  • My review:
    • What I liked:
      • The canning section was very basic but probably most people getting this book have some experience with canning and it gave some great charts on times for canning, including some unusual things like rabbit, shrimp and succotash!
      • I liked the ingredients and equipment section because it gave real world practical advice and even brand name suggestions.  Examples are the suggestion for clear gel that’s capable of being used in the pressure caner, the suggestion of Washington State University Cougar Gold cheese because it preserves well (not just because I’m from Washington State either!), and the use of dry milk and oils. 
      • I liked the section on breakfasts because I do see this as being the most practical.  I can see putting the ingredients together for pancakes, waffles, cereals, muffins.  I can see this being useful if you are on the run to have a jar pre-made with cereal that you just add some yogurt or milk to and eat on the run, or throw in a camping or overnight bag. 
      • I liked some of the recipes as basic home cooked meals, and didn’t preserve them.  For example the carnitas recipe was way too big for my household of two people, but I used her general recipe for cooking a smaller 3 pound pork shoulder and it worked well. She has definitely taken comfort food and home-style recipes and made them useful for long term storage.
    • What I didn’t like:
      • Although the title says meals in jars, even the beginning of the book starts out with the bigger idea of “ready-made meals” which really is a lot more than just meals in jars.  If that’s what you’re looking for you will find some ideas for meals you can put in your Ball jars, but most require mylar bags and/or vacuum seal machines of some sort.
      • Its really aimed at preppers, people with very large families, or those with way too much space on their hands.  Some of the recipes were so basic, like popcorn, but seem to have been aimed at those who thought they might need or want to have 15 portion sized popcorn packets ready at all times.  Yes, it could make it easy to go camping and just pull out a portion or two, but I don’t see the big advantage of dividing in jars versus keeping the popcorn in bulk. 
      • Some of the recipes are questionable in my opinion.  For example canning bacon.  I didn’t find any support at the National Center for Food Preservation that you should can bacon.  I did see lots of people doing it online though.  But I prefer to be ultra safe so I wont be doing bacon canning.
  • Who is this book good for and who is it bad for?
    • Its good for preppers, those with large families, those who camp or backpack, those who may have harsh winters where they cant get out for long periods.  Not so good for small households, those who prefer fresh foods, those who dont like dry milk or eggs,
  • Rating: out of 10 … I give the book a 7.  But do remember I am cooking for a 2-person family and don’t feel the need to have lots of food in reserve.

  • Further reading:

  • Interview with Laura Languille at Back Door Survival
  • Interview with Laura by Apartment Prepper

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