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This has been a multi-part, all summer experiment so it’s not exactly well planned out for blogging.  I scoured the internet for “instant” meals that appealed to us.  The problem with most instructions is that each blogger had their own starter mix which meant we had to make more than one type of mix.  We’re still trying to make up all the instant meals as well as turn them into “real” meals.

Our first version was professed as a replacement for hamburger helper.  I like this idea because it’s more designed to be a full meal.  We did make these according to the directions (well as much as I follow directions).  I would love to see more vegetables in these packets so that they do become a full meal that can be made in a hurry.

Our goal is to dry our own ingredients as much as possible and add more to the meals.

We did not buy anything to make these meals (except Parmesan cheese because we had run out but usually it’s a staple)

The “base” mix for this set of meals is:

2 cups milk powder
1/4 cup beef bouillon
1 teas dried basil
1 TB garlic powder
1 cup cornstarch
2 TB onion flakes
1 teas dried thyme
2 TB dried parsley (we use 2 teas parsley powder)

Lasagna Hamburger Helper

This was the first meal we actually ate.  We made it the night we put together all the mixes.

Original recipe:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup base mix
1 onion, chopped
2 cups water
16 oz tomato sauce
3 cups noodles (broken lasagna noodles)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella

Brown meat.  Add everything but mozzarella.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Top with mozzarella.

* I should note that I didn’t write down the instructions for the making the meal in a jar part of this recipe.  I’m not 100% sure that this was designed to be a meal in a jar or instant meal.

So we made some changes

In a large ziplock bag, add –
1/2 cup base mix
1/4 cup dried onions (onion flakes)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 cups macaroni noodles

Food Storage Meals Part One

We skipped the meat and cooked the noodle mix with a quart of homemade tomatoes.  (Bringing to a boil and then simmering for 15 minutes.)

Food Storage Meals Part One

I had a plan to make up notes and get everything ready for a blog post not long after we made the meals but it fell through the cracks.  We did top this with more parmesan cheese and really enjoyed it.

My goal is to eventually figure out how to make it a “just add water” type meal but for an almost instant meal it was a great start.

Stroganoff

This is one meal I wanted to create but was afraid of making it wrong.  Stroganoff is practically a sacred dish in our house.  It is always made from scratch.  But I wanted an instant version for camping and for emergencies.  I knew it would not be the same but it could give us the comfort we crave.  This was a good dish and well received.  The family is not going to ask for this to replace the from scratch version but it’s a nice quick meal.

Original:
1 pound ground beef
2 cups water
1/2 cup mix
2 cups noodles (egg)
1/2 cup sour cream
Brown meat.  Add water, mix and noodles.  Bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes.  Add sour cream before serving.

Our version:
In a large ziplock bag add:
1/2 cup base mix
2 cups macaroni noodles
1/4 cup plus 1 TB powdered sour cream

To make:
Brown 1 pound beef in deep skillet.  Add jarred ingredients and 4 cups water (note water amount changed).  Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes.

Food Storage Meals Part One

My husband had made the lasagna while I still assembled bags so I don’t have great notes about making it.  However, I made the stroganoff not all that long ago.  I was really impressed with how it came out.  The noodles didn’t come out weird, like I was afraid they would.  The sauce thickened.

Neither dish had that instant meal taste.  Note there is no salt added at any point.  That was great for us because we are not huge on processed foods and the salt content practically chokes us.  Neither dish felt like it needed salt.

I do plan on adding dried vegetables to both.  Tomatoes to the lasagna and mushrooms to the stroganoff.  Those are both vegetables that are not well stocked in our dried foods pantry so I didn’t want to use them in this experiment until I knew we liked the dishes.

We have decided to keep both of these and make up more.  While they do take 15 – 20 minutes to cook, we don’t really have to think about them ahead of time.  This past weekend, I made up another meal (sharing Thursday) without any preparations.  I pulled the hamburger out of the freezer, thawed in the microwave for 10 minutes and then threw, partially frozen, into the skillet.  It did take about 40 minutes from start to finish but I didn’t have to plan anything – no chopping or thinking.  I thawed the meat while I worked on other projects.  The browning the meat took the most attention but then I was able to put it all on to simmer while I went back to all those little things that needed to be done.

There might come a time when we decide to try this with dried hamburger but I don’t see that happening for awhile.

Hope this gives you someplace to start with figuring out not only how to use your food storage but to create quick meals for those days when you really have no idea what to make.

I did notice that not every one fit in a jar so we ended up using ziplock bags.  The part that makes that okay, is we’ve been saving the bags to refill.

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