This is a photo of the finished product. Looks kind of pretty in a food sort of way. It sort of reminds me of when people get married and do the sand in the jar thing. It also reminds me a bit of the Grand Canyon, which was one of my favorite trips with Chelsea.

manly meal in a jar

I'm sort of an amalgam of stereotypes, by the way. I was the “jock” (captain of football, wrestling and track teams), the drama geek (I'm telling you I didn't score the Robin Hood part only because I was 6'4″ – so typical!), the band and symphony geek (trumpet and bass, thank you very much) and the academic. So when I look at this jar, I see the sediment layers of the Grand Canyon. The millions of years it took a little river to carve it and the insignificant period of time the cowboys of the west crossed it.

cutting beef jerky

And, if there's one thing I know people of the west like, it's dried goods. I learned that on all the Orgen Trail video games at school. I mean, if you had enough dried goods and your cousin Edna didn't get Cholera , you were set. What might you do with all these dried goods? Make chili, of course! Also, without refrigerators, you had to learn how to make jerky. And jerky was a great way to store protein. So I thought I'd make a meal in a jar with all ingredients ready to be added to hot water.

Manly Meal in a Jar

#shop manly meal in a jar
Chili Con Carne in a Jar
  • 2 cups peppered jerky
  • 2 cups red kidney beans
  • 1 cup white beans
  • 4 Tbsp dried chopped onions
  • 3 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 quart Kerr jar
  1. Dice jerky into 1/2" cubes and place in bottom of Kerr jar. Layer other ingredients on top of jerky, close with lid and store until ready to cook.
  2. Soak all ingredients from jar in 9 cups water overnight, then cook on medium-high approximately 1 hour. Add a can of tomato paste before cooking if you want a richer flavor.

jerky goes in the bottom

So I took a bag of jerky and chopped it up into about 1 cm x 1cm cubes (going European on this one, yo). Now if you can't manage the metric system, you can also do .4″ cubes. Even a half-inch will work, too. I wanted to use the most plain jerky I could find because I don't want the chili to be overwhelmed by some zany jerky flavor that wouldn't match the chili flavor profile.

adding beans and spices to our meal in a jar

Now, for the “body of the chili” as I like to call it, I use kidney beans. Chelsea demands I put a measurable amount on here but I must say, to be honest, I almost always cook to sight and taste. This means I look at it, measure with my eyes and brain's desired quantity and apply. I do a followup investigation with my tongue later on. If you've ever made homemade chicken noodle soup and know you like extra chicken but the recipe only calls for one chopped chicken breast, you look around to make sure no one's watching and you…dare I say it? You add ANOTHER CHICKEN BREAST!!!

That's what I'm talking about.

You can also change up the type of beans based on your flavor preferences. I just discovered white beans and man, those things are a game-changer.

spices on top of the jar

Now, for my chili con carne, the carne bit is covered. I then add the white beans to mix it up. You know, get a little crazy. For spices, I put chili powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt and a bit of dried chopped onions. The amounts for all these are about two to three tablespoons for the pepper, a tablespoon for the salt, about three to four tablespoons for the dried chopped onions and two tablespoons for the onion powder and chili powder.

I like about two cups of kidney beans and then fill the rest of the space with white beans.

#shop Grand Canyon

It's fun and decorative if you alternate the mixing process to create the Grand Canyon. Go for that layered effect that looks like it took eons to create!

finished jar with a little extra room

There's a picture of the finished product. Now, put the lid on and store it for a chili kind of day. Maybe when its…”chili” outside (mwa ha ha). Or for an easy overnight camping meal.

#shop manly meal in a jar (great for camping!)

Buying ingredients in bulk and portioning them into individual meals like this is a great way to feed the family easily and save a ton of money.

What's your favorite meal in a jar recipe?