On most days my house is a hive of activity. There's a steady stream of family and friends that regularly cross my threshold, not to mention the three men I live with and cook for on a daily basis. There's Hubby, the American and the Little Man, all of whom have different tastes, schedules and appetites. Here's how I stopped being a short order cook and turned my fridge into an open all hours self serve buffet.

Why food in jars?

Cooking in jars is very trendy at the moment, especially desserts.  A quick search on the web will source dozens of pages with pretty little cakes and sweet treats in jars, but there are lots of good reasons outside of the cute factor to cooking and storing food in jars.

Controlled Portion Size

Controlled portion sizes are more economical.  Many of the members in my family have a healthy appetite, and what can only be described as a voracious sweet tooth.  Making desserts in jars limits their portion size.  Rather than helping themselves to one quarter or one third of a cake or dessert, they are limited to one helping, this makes the recipe serve the intended number of 6 people, rather than just 3 double helpings.

Controlled portion sizes are great weight loss tools.  As someone who is trying to lose some extra weight, the jars allow me to cook individual calorie controlled portions.  This means no heavy helpings, making staying on track so much easier.

Controlled portion sizes are great when cooking for only one or two.  Rather than cooking what seems to be an overwhelming serving for 4 or 6, the recipe is broken down into individual servings. 

Freshness and Hygiene

Single serve portions are far more hygienic. When you bake a whole cake, every time a family member goes to cut a slice, that's a whole new set of germs being introduced.  The container is uncovered and exposed to airborne contaminants, and then there's fingers touching the cake as a new slice is cut and served. As each jar is a single portion there's no risk of double dipping, and at least in my family even if a jar is unfinished it's highly unlikely anyone else would want to eat out of that jar. 

Single serve portions stay fresher, for longer.  With cakes and desserts baked into jars, they are sealed as soon as they are cooled, and then only opened again when the are intended to be eaten.  This means the food will not dry out due to repeatedly being exposed to air, and has no opportunity to have bacteria introduced after sealing.

Convenience and Portability

Preparing food directly in jars is a very convenient method of cooking.  In some cases the jar acts as the mixing bowl, cooking dish and serving plate all in one.  Canning jars can tolerate the low temperatures of the freezer, so once at room temperature excess portions can be frozen, to be defrosted and reheated at a later date.

Food in jars are very portable.  There's no need for casserole pot holders, cupcake carriers, etc to transport your food.  The lids form an airtight seal which won't dribble, drip or leak.  The jars are microwave safe so they can be taken to work and reheated there and eaten straight from the jar.