Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book review: Meals in a Jar by Julie Languille

I saw this book is on sale from Mother Earth News but wanted to check it out first, so I checked it out…from the library.  I’m so glad I did; I’d have been very unhappy to have spent money on it even if it was on sale.

First of all, the cutesy jars on the cover have pieces of cloth under the lids and the labels are tied on artily with string.  This is not what emergency preparations should look like.  Cutesy has no place in a prepper’s stores.  And it certainly isn’t what the end result of a sealed mylar bag will look like; more on that below.

Second, the blurb under the title says “ Quick and Easy, Just-Add-Water, Homemade Recipes”.  It’s that blurb that really gets me.  Because the recipes aren’t.

  • You need to know how to pressure can meat for any recipes that call for meat, requiring a pressure canner and probably some practice in its use for safety in the food preservation as well as the use of the thing itself.    
  • You need to acquire dried vegetables and powdered eggs to put in some recipes.   
  • Some recipes call for 20 pounds or more of meat to be prepared and cooked at one time.   
  • No information is given on how to make less than 16 six serving meals, as an example of one of the quantities, and while dividing by two might work for that one, it won’t for the recipe that IIRC called for 43 1/3 cups of something.  
  • You need to get some powdered vanilla for at least one recipe, and that stuff’s $100+ a pound.  
  •  The number of meal portions varies as well; some things are four servings, some six and some eight.   
  • To top it off, many of the recipes call for sealing the ingredients in Mylar or vac-pack bags, not jars as the title suggests, again, requiring a vacuum sealer and supplies (bags).
While it might be nice not to have to measure (and how bloody hard is that, anyway, and pre-measured means you can't adjust the seasoning to your taste as easily), the only time saving is that you don’t have to measure.  You still have to cook, and dried beans for chili, for example, have to soak overnight before you start the actual process of actually cooking the chili.  Quick and easy, not.

I do not recommend buying this book.  There are just too many things wrong with it.  Make spice packet mixes, pre-measure things that you use regularly like spaghetti and the like, but don't get this book to make life and emergency preparations easier, because it won't.