Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar
There is just something about the combination of chicken and noodles and veggies and creamy sauce that makes this Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar a little taste of warm comfort! Maybe because it tastes similar to a creamy chicken noodle soup. Maybe because the combo of chicken and noodles and sauce always seems to have magical properties (if you don’t believe me, check out my Chicken Alfredo Bake). Who knows? Not that I want to question a good thing… So go with me on this one when I say this is WAY better than any “completely from food storage” should ever be allowed to taste!
The recipe is adapted from one that I got from Chef Tess’s Turkey Noodle Skillet Meal.
As with other meal in a jar recipes, this Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar contains all the ingredients (except water, of course) needed for the meal in dried format. That means the meal is shelf stable for up to ten years. And it’s ready to go when needed. You just need to add water and cook.
It’s a great way to rotate your food storage and have a quick meal ready to go whenever needed! And this one is perfect when taking in a meal to a friend or neighbor, or even to give as a gift. I especially love that I can control the ingredients and tweak them to match my family’s tastes.
Items You Will Need:
- Wide-mouth quart mason (canning) jars, with new lids, and rings
- Foodsaver vacuum sealer with hose and wide-mouth jar sealer attachment, AND/OR 100cc oxygen absorbers (one per jar)
- Instruction labels or Sharpie marker to write instructions on lid
- (optional) Printable gift tags for Cricut machine
- Egg noodles
- Freeze-dried diced chicken (see note below for important pandemic-related update)
- Freeze-dried vegetable mix (see notes below for substitution information)
- Dry minced onion (you can usually find this at most grocery stores or club stores like Sam’s or Costco)
- Instant non-fat dry milk (Carnation brand can be found in most grocery stores) or regular non-fat dry milk powder if you have some in your food storage already
- Cheese powder
- Butter powder
- Italian seasoning (found in most grocery stores in the spice aisle)
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar
- Layer each ingredient, one at a time, into a clean wide-mouth quart mason jar in the order listed in the recipe.
- When adding the powdered ingredients towards the end, you may need to shake gently to settle contents to make room for everything. The powdered ingredients should settle to the bottom around the noodles.
- If not using a Foodsaver to vacuum seal the jar, place one 100cc oxygen absorber on top of the ingredients. (You can use an oxygen absorber in addition to vacuum sealing the jar as well.)
- Wipe rim of jar to make sure it is clean. Then place new lid on jar.
- To seal:
- If using a FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jar, carefully place the wide-mouth jar attachment over the top of the jar and lid, attach it to the FoodSaver, and vacuum seal following your model’s instructions (for most newer models you’ll use the Marinate or Accessory option). Once done, remove the hose from the top of the jar sealer, and then carefully remove the jar sealer attachment off of the jar. Place ring onto jar and tighten.
- If using just an oxygen absorber, place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring. Allow jar to sit undisturbed as oxygen absorber works. At some point, the lid of the jar should suck down and seal. You will know it is sealed when you press on the center of the lid and it does not flex. (If it flexes, it is not sealed.)
- Attach instruction label to top of jar, or write cooking instructions on lid with sharpie marker.
- Store jar in cool, dry place away from direct sun.
A Note on Storing or Gifting the Meals in a Jar
You’ll need to store the jar(s) where it will not be jostled as this can inadvertently pop the seal. And you should check on the seal periodically to make sure that it is holding. Most of the time this has not been a problem for me, but occasionally I find one that loses the seal over time. Using an oxygen absorber in combination with the vacuum sealing with the FoodSaver will help keep that seal extra tight.
There’s no need to get fancy with these if they are going into your food storage, but you should make sure to label them, and it helps to write the cooking instructions on the lid as well. If you’d like, my friend Amy at The Happy Scraps has designed printable label stickers that you can use, and she also has gift tags available that you can cut with a Cricut machine if you’d like to give these meals in a jar as gifts!
Questions and Substitutions
How long are these Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar meals good for?
As long as they are stored properly and the seals stay holding, these jars are shelf-stable for up to 10 years! Shelf life for the meal is calculated using the shelf life of whichever ingredient in the meal has the shortest shelf life on its own. In this case, that is the freeze-dried chicken and powdered milk, each with realistic shelf lives of 5-10 years.
Freeze-dried meat is so expensive, can I substitute something else?
Absolutely! Freeze-dried meat can be very expensive, even when you can find it on sale. If cost is a factor, you can choose to substitute a vegetarian meat substitute called TVP or “textured vegetable protein”. It is soy-based, and made to resemble the taste, if not always the texture, of meats. Wholesome Provisions makes a version of chicken TVP that is similar to chicken chunks (although I have not tried this brand personally). I have used the Augason Farms brand of chicken TVP in years past – it is more like ground chicken, but it works just fine in this meal. (No more TVP for me due to a soy allergy.)
Update for 2020: As the pandemic has progressed, it has become increasing more difficult to find freeze-dried items, especially freeze-dried meats. And if you are lucky enough to find some, it is often marked up beyond belief. SO, for right now, I DO NOT RECOMMEND using freeze-dried chicken in this recipe unless you can find it at a reasonable price and have the budget for it. A great alternative is to use the TVP option above OR make the meal as written, but leave out the chicken all together. Then, purchase some canned chicken online or at warehouse stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco (or even better can your own!), and store that or gift that together with the jarred meal.
Where do I find freeze-dried vegetable mix? All I can find online is dehydrated – is there a difference?
There is actually a big difference. The dehydrated vegetables are heat dried, and are more difficult to rehydrate, and they don’t taste quite the same as their original versions of themselves. I do not recommend using dehydrated versions of peas or corn in this recipe, as you would have to cook it so long to get the peas and corn soft that you would destroy the noodles. I personally use the Honeyville brand of freeze-dried vegetable mix. Fresh and Honest Foods also has a version (which I’ve never tried before). However, you can easily make your own “mix” using a combination of freeze dried peas and corn (and/or dehydrated carrots and bell peppers) if you have them already in your food storage, or you can even go just straight freeze-dried corn or peas.
How do I make the Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar to eat?
Stove Top Instructions: To make the meal, remove the ring and gently pry off the sealed lid. Empty contents of jar (minus oxygen packet if present) into large skillet. Add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let sit 3-5 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.
If you’re looking for other great meal in a jar recipes, be sure to check out these others from the blog:
- Taco Soup in a Jar
- Beef Taco Rice Meal in a Jar
- Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar
- Beef and Bean Stew in a Jar
- Creamy Chicken Veggie Casserole Meal in a Jar
- Bean & Rice Fajita Casserole in a Jar
- Potato Sausage Cheese Casserole in a Jar
Chicken Noodle Skillet Meal in a Jar
- Layer ingredients into clean, wide-mouth mason jar in the order listed above. Shake to settle contents.
- Place new canning lid on top of jar. Using wide-mouth attachment for a FoodSaver, vacuum seal lid onto jar following instructions from your FoodSaver manual. (You can also insert an oxygen absorber before putting on lid if you'd like.)
- Remove vacuum attachment and put ring on. Tighten by hand, but don't over tighten.
- Label and date. Store in cool, dry location.
- Empty contents of jar (minus oxygen packet if present) into large skillet. Add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let sit 3-5 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.