Canning Your Own Homemade Convenience Foods

Crystal Miller




You have finally gotten to the point where most of your meals are cooked from scratch.  You are seeing the savings in your grocery budget and are so pleased to be able to feed your family wholesome health building foods. 


But, it would be so nice to once in awhile be able to make a fast and easy meal without compromising health and without busting the budget. 


What is the answer to this dilemma??  Canning up your own good quality foods so they are sitting on the shelf ready to eat!


You can also freeze your own foods, however freezing requires that you defrost the food first and that is one extra step that makes it not quite as convenient as it could be.


The first thing you will have to have is a pressure canner.  You can not use a boiling water bath canner for this.  Purchasing a canner is a big expense.  But like so many other homemaking tools it will pay great dividends in the years to come.  I have 2 pressure canners and have had them for 10 or more years.  I have had to replace the seals once.  These canners have canned hundreds and hundreds of jars of food for my family.


The next thing you will need is a basic knowledge of how to can.  At the end of this article are a couple of good resources that will help you to learn how to do this. 


You will need basic supplies like canning jars, rings, new lids and a few utensils like a jar lifter, canning funnel, and a lid wand are the basics.


Before you go out and buy canning jars, ask around and let people know you are interested in canning jars.  I have had more jars given to me then I could possible use!  Also garage sales are another great place to pick up jars at reasonable prices.


Some people have asked me, “Is canning really worthwhile as far as money goes?”  Like so many other areas you have to use common sense.  I need to have low cost foods available for me to can.  In the late summer and early fall I usually have a garden full of produce that I am able to can.  I don’t generally buy anything like fruit or vegetables to can unless the cost savings is very worthwhile.  I am able to buy peaches and applesauce from the store much cheaper than what I am able to can them for.  So I stick with foods that are ready available for me to can.


What I have focused on is canning my own regular home cooked foods.  By doing this I am not buying extra foods, but utilizing what I already have and I am making my life simpler by having these foods on the shelf and ready to go. 



What Kind of Foods to Can


What I like to have on hand is, cooked chicken, cooked hamburger, chili, chicken soup, spaghetti sauce, and bean soups.


Really almost anything that you make can be canned.  What I do is try and think of canning as just a regular part of my kitchen duties.  When I make a pot of chili I double or triple the batch so that I can take the leftovers after dinner, or the next morning, and can them.  If I make spaghetti sauce I make a very large batch so that I can have a few jars leftover to can.  Same goes for any type of soups.


I also like having meat canned.  I look for the chicken leg/thigh quarters and will cook about 20# in my table top oven and then proceed to can the cooked meat. 


Hamburger can be canned too.  Cook the hamburger until it is hot, it does not need to be cooked all the way through.  The canning process will cook it completely.  Add water and/or broth and a bit of salt.  Pack the hot hamburger and liquid into quart jars and can for 90 minutes at 10#’s pressure.  You can use this hamburger for quick meals such as tacos, hamburger gravy, added to spaghetti sauce, or beans or any other use you would normally have for cooked hamburger.


How to Can Soups


To can your favorite soups you will need to take a look at the ingredients in your soup.  If you have vegetables, meat and beans for instance, you would need to look at the recommended time for canning each of these ingredients.  You take the longest cooking time and can the whole batch of soup for that time.  In the case of above ingredients, meat and beans typically can for about 90 minutes, so this is how long you would can the whole batch.


This is the same for other stews and sauces. 


You don’t need new recipes to do this, simply can your family’s favorite foods and have them on the shelf ready to go.


I make it a goal to can something each week.  I keep my canner, lids & rings, and canning utensils in an easy to reach place so that canning can become something that is simply done as part of the kitchen chores. 



More Resources:


Ball Blue Book of Preserving…  this is a must have book!  It is filled with information and recipes. I found my copy on Ebay for a very reasonable price.


Principles of Home Canning..  this is a fantastic online, step-by-step on line guide to home canning.  If you have never canned before this will be a great help to you.


How to Can Chicken

How to Can Spaghetti Sauce




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The Homestead Kitchen