Glass Canning Jars – Perfect For Freezer Meals

I’ve been doing a lot of meal planning lately, and that typically means a lot of frugal freezer meals, especially soups, stews, meat sauce, and other family favorites.

Recently I removed a plastic ziploc bag of my homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer, let it thaw slightly, then pushed the contents out into a saucepan. So far, so good.

Then, as I usually do, I put the ziploc bag in the sink and proceeded to wash it out with hot soapy water. The bag split along the seam, so I threw it out.

As I stood there looking in the garbage, I wondered how frugal it really is to use plastic freezer bags or containers? I’ve thrown plenty of them out, either because they absorb the odor of the food or they eventually split open or the covers crack. (Actually, they go into recycling, but it’s still wasted money to me.)

I started wondering if there was a better, more frugal way to store these meals in the freezer.

Then I noticed my canning jars sitting in the pantry. I’ve always enjoyed ‘putting by’ jam, jelly, and vegetables over the summer and fall, so my pantry is pretty well stocked with goodies preserved in canning jars.

But, when it comes to meals, I prefer to freeze them, either in meal size portions for the whole family or single servings. Having a freezer full of spaghetti sauce, chili, soups and stews, is a real help for us, especially during the busy school year. For the freezer, I’ve always chosen plastic bags and containers, but now I was wondering how frugal that really is.

It suddenly occurred to me that the solution to my quandry was right there in my pantry…

Canning jars.

I know what you’re thinking; that’s way too expensive. I agree that your initial expense may seem daunting. Your start-up cost to purchase the jars, lids, and rings could add up, but let’s take a look at the real expense.

When you compare the cost of canning jars to that of plastic, you may cringe a bit at first. It will add up to a pretty penny when you buy your supplies. But, when you compare the one time cost for glass and accessories to the cost of plastic purchased over the years, you’ll see a real savings.

Aside from the occasional broken canning jar and a bent lid or two, this is a one-time investment. When you take into account that you probably throw out a plastic bag a couple times a week, you are throwing out quite a bit of money. That’s your money in the trash, never to be recovered.

Glass canning jars are convenient, too. I’m making chicken noodle soup now and will freeze individual servings in small canning jars. Then to heat the soup I can simply set the jar in a pot of slowly simmering water. The soup will thaw and be warmed through without even dirtying a pot. If you use a wide mouth jar for your single servings, you’ll also have a ready-to-serve container.

Glass jars are safe to heat in and eat from. As far as heating plastic containers, the jury is still out about whether or not it is safe. Have you put a plastic freezer container in the microwave and noticed the material start to deteriorate around the edges? This doesn’t happen with glass. Have you ever tried to heat frozen food in a plastic bag or container on the stove top. It’s a worry.

And you’ll never get a better seal than with a canning jar lid. This keeps flavor in and air out, helping to prevent freezer burn.

If the price still has you worried, do a bit of research into wholesale and resale shops that offer glass canning jars at a reduced price. You may even luck out at a garage sale somewhere. In that case, an investment in the lids and rings is all you’ll need.

The next time you reach for a box of freezer bags or containers at the store, check the price. Do some comparisons and see if you wouldn’t benefit from investing in canning jars to freeze your meals. I love to keep my cash out of the trash, don’t you?

Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below. I look forward to learning what you have found to be your best tools for freezing meals.

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