Meal in a Bag: Chili with Beef and Beans

Christian Prepper Gal
By Christian Prepper Gal September 15, 2020 08:46

Meal in a Bag: Chili with Beef and Beans

This meal-in-a-bag is great for camping, backpacking, hiking, thru trail hiking, bug out bags and long term food storage! This is a homemade chili recipe using dehydrated, freeze dried, and powdered ingredients that have already been prepared. It does take a little time for preparation, but will be so worth it when it comes to time to eating it!

I first discovered meals-in-a-bag when I thought it would be a great idea to make my own MREs. The actual MREs were just a little too expensive for my budget, and I felt like I was paying way too much for food that my family members may not even eat. Anyway, I had a crazy idea of making my own MREs and did a YouTube search finding out that others had the same idea!

While looking through the videos I found that quite a few were using dehydrators to dehydrate their own meals. I thought, what a great way to make meals for my own MREs! So, I found the least expensive that was still good quality dehydrator and ordered it!

I started out dehydrating some veggies and even made some mac and cheese MREs and some spaghetti MREs. In my endeavors to learn more about dehydrating foods I came across videos for something called meals-in-a-jar.

Then, I thought if I could make meals-in-a-jar, why couldn’t I make meals-in-a-bag? And, lo and behold, I found there were even some videos on that and I could! Well, I actually already had made meals-in-a-bag, I had just been calling them MREs.

The only issue I had with the videos I was watching for camp/trail foods was that most of those meals only had a shelf life of a few months to maybe a year; because of the way they were prepared. When I discovered the meals-in-a-jar, I found out that I could dehydrate the ingredients separately and the shelf life of those were anywhere between 10 and 25 years!!

Related: Making Your Own MREs at Home

Chili With Beans and Meat

I didn’t want the expense of purchasing a #10 can of pinto beans when I could prepare those myself, so I soaked and cooked the beans and proceeded to dehydrate them.

Chili With Beef and BeansI also dehydrated some frozen red and green bell peppers with onions to us in this recipe. Beforehand, I had purchased a #10 can of Mountain House ground beef/hamburger meat.

If you feel safe in doing so, you can make your own “Hamburger Rocks” by dehydrating your own ground beef.

I’ve made them myself, but felt a tad bit safer for using the commercially prepared ones for long term food storage.

I also purchased a can of commercially prepared tomato powder; I want to make my own but haven’t gotten that far yet. All of the other spices and ingredients I already had on hand. I made sure that everything I used had a shelf life of at least 25 plus years when stored properly.

The chili should actually have a shelf life of at least 25 years when stored properly, but I will check it after 10 years if needed, just to be sure; but that’s just me. Now, here’s that recipe you’ve been wanting me to get to!

Chili In a Bag Recipe and Instructions (1 serving)


Chili with Beef and Beans

  • 1/4 cup freeze dried ground beef
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated pinto beans
  • 1/8 cup dehydrated red and green bell peppers with onions
  • 1/2 TBSP onion powder
  • 1-1/2 TBSP tomato powder
  • 1/4 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • dash of salt and pepper (optional)

NOTE: You can add other dehydrated peppers and spices, etc. to your liking.


#1. Put the ground beef, pinto beans, and peppers in a quart size vacuum sealer bag.

Chili With Beef and Beans#2. Put the spices in a small baggie. Do NOT seal the baggie, just fold it over and remove as much air as you can.

#3. Place the small baggie with the spices inside the vacuum sealer bag on top of the meat, etc. Do NOT seal the baggie with the spices.

Chili With Beef and Beans#4. Vacuum seal the bag containing all of the ingredients.

Chili With Beef and Beans#5. With a sharpie/magic marker put the date on the vacuum sealed bag. You can also print out this recipe’s instructions to put inside the bag before vacuum sealing it if you want.

(NOTE: If you are using this meal-in-a-bag for an upcoming camping, hiking, etc. trip you can put everything in a zip lock baggie instead of a vacuum sealed bag. As long as you make sure you will be using it within a few weeks. You can also store the meal in a zip lock baggie in the freezer for up to a year.)

Related: 7 Unusual Ways To Use Your Vacuum Sealer

Cooking Over a Fire/Cook Stove Directions

Put ground beef and beans in pot with 1 cup of water and bring to boil.

Add additional ingredients, stir, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Microwave Cooking Directions (For Cooking at Home)

(I actually tested this recipe by cooking it in the microwave.)

Chili With Beef and BeansPut the meat, beans, peppers, and water into a glass or microwave proof bowl, cover, and cook on high for 3-1/2 minutes.

Take the bowl out of the microwave, stir in the spices.

Cover the bowl and put it back in the microwave (not turned on) to keep warm for 15 minutes.

It was still steaming when I took it out and it tasted delicious!

So, there you have it! I will actually be making a lot of these chili meals-in-a-jar and even keeping some of them in my pantry to use on those nights that I don’t feel like cooking much.

Editor’s note: This article was gladly contributed by Joy and first appeared on Joy is the founder and owner of the blog site Christian Prepper Gal. She is very active on social media, including her YouTube channel. She is a mother of four, grandmother of 13 and great grandmother of two. It is her heart’s desire to help others in any way she can.

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Christian Prepper Gal
By Christian Prepper Gal September 15, 2020 08:46
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  1. Gear Guy September 15, 15:27

    Great info–Thank you..It’s aways good to share information re, family safety…

    Reply to this comment
  2. grammy em September 15, 15:47

    what is your source of info for the length of time these foods will store? also, what is it about the spices that makes them need to be held separately? and why must the bag the spices are in not be sealed?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck September 15, 19:54

      Why the thumbs down on these questions? I think they are valid questions. Get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or is your outlook on life so dismal you automatically hit thumbs down on everything you see on line OR, did you just hit the thumbs down by mistake and can’t reverse it once the deed is done?

      I had those questions too. I wonder about the 25 years. Like all food storage, how long it lasts depends so much on the conditions under which it is stored. 50 degrees F at 50% humidity is ideal. How many of us have a storage facility like that. I know some have a root cellar, but even there unless is is more than 30 feet underground, there are temperature and humidity changes.

      Why do the spices have to be unsealed? I can understand why one might not vacuum seal them as the fine particles of the spiced might get sucked out and into the vacuum sealer. Even the instructions for my vacuum sealer say to be careful with stuff that might get sucked into the sealer.

      Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 22:34

      The source of the length of times this meal will last is based upon the shelf life of each individual ingredient used. The reason for the spices in the bag and keeping things separated is because that’s how I learned to do it. I guess it’s because in keeping things separated, if one thing does happen to spoil, the others may still be usable. The bag the spices in is not sealed because if it is sealed the vacuum sealer (or 02 absorber) cannot draw out the oxygen from it.

      Reply to this comment
  3. tonyG September 15, 17:06

    Please provide wattage of microwave oven you used

    Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 22:28

      1,000 watts

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck September 17, 01:24

        I don’t think the wattage and the time is critical. Almost everything I cook is done on the microwave. If I can’t nuke it or I have to use more than one pan, it doesn’t get cooked.

        Microwave times and power settings are mostly a matter of guess for me. If the bean blew dip at full 1100 watt power in 2 minutes last time, I go 80% and 4 minutes the next time. If they are hot enough, then that is my go to setting. If they are warm but not hot, then I will add a minute to the time. When I finally arrive at the time that gets them the temperature I like to eat them at without blowing beans all over the inside of the m/w, then that is my go to setting.

        All settings, even when suggested by the producer of the food product are advisory. There are too many variables to be able to give an exact time and power setting for any m/w cooking.

        Reply to this comment
  4. clergylady September 15, 18:28

    Good article. Easy to do. I’ll dry seal in pint jars with several servings in a jar. Might use Tvp since i was givdn a lot of it and the spices will make it palatable.
    Spices in the folded baggie won’t suck out into the vacuum sealer but air will finish sucking out. Its a good trick to remember.

    Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 22:43

      @clergylady, thanks for mentioning using the canning jars to put in several servings. I don’t always remember to do so 🙂 I think you’re right about the tvp, all of the spices would help to give it a good flavor 🙂 And, thanks for your explanation on the spices baggie. I honestly hadn’t thought about that being the reason for it, lol. God bless!

      Reply to this comment
  5. Old Goat September 15, 23:05

    Freeze dried food can be stored for 25 years in vacuum sealed mylar bags, but most dehydrated food is only FULLY ok for 1 year (like pinto beans in recipe). Also dehydrating canned beans (like in the recipe) rehydrate well. According to Glen McAllister (Chef Glen on internet) dried beans home cooked do not rehydrate satisfactorily.

    Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 23:02

      @Old Goat, it has been found that some dehydrated foods, such as vegetables and beans, that are stored properly and in proper containers with oxygen removed will last many years. They may not retain their optimum nutrition, but they will remain edible for many years. If you are unsure of it lasting beyond a year then simply rotate it on a yearly basis. As far as the beans I used in this recipe, they are dry beans I soaked and cooked from their dry state and then dehydrated, they are not canned beans. I have never tried dehydrating canned beans. I truly found my dehydrated cooked dry beans to be just as good as when they are oooked and eaten fresh. How they’re cooked and how they’re re-hydrated could perhaps can make a difference.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Don September 16, 03:23

    Do you really think the world is going to hold together 10 20 25 years? I don’t see anything past 7 years and maybe a few weeks or months? I believe we are in the count down to the rapture and the tribulation and very few people are going to survive that! TEOTWAWKI is truly very near!

    Reply to this comment
  7. JayJay September 16, 17:19

    Don, not only your point, but I am 70 and husband is 72. I’m not exactly interested in long term now. But, all the stores I saved in the last 10 years I am proud of.
    And, I do believe like you–we are near the end.
    Those folks that don’t store for emergencies because God is gonna provide, well, he gives us knowledge and common sense and we should use it.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck September 16, 20:12

      While we may question the 25 year storage life that the author posits, and for some of us, 25 years is of little concern because as with me, I really don’t want to be around when I am over 100 years old unless I have taken up marathon running and am finishing in the top 100.

      That said, it still is a good idea for making meals in case the end of the world comes sooner than that and we are not one of the ones swept up in the rapture and have to, for one reason or another, leave our present location for one we think is better.

      I am guessing the author does not review the remarks posted to her article, so we can’t expect answers from her.

      Reply to this comment
      • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 23:21

        @left coast chuck, here I am! I’m sorry but I was unable to get to the comments for a couple of days. I do thank you for stepping in and helping to take care of answering the questions.

        Just for the record, this recipe was the first one for meals in a bag that I developed. It was a little over a year and a half ago and I was new to the concept as well as the process. I’ve actually developed quite a few recipes since this one, and I’m learning more and more as I move forward. I started Christian Prepper Gal blog and YouTube for the sole purpose of sharing what I’m learning with others. I’m not an expert and I’m not perfect. I’m just trying to help others learn that we need to be prepared for what is yet to come. Thanks, and God bless!

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck September 17, 22:02

          Prepper GaL: I have only been prepping for about 15 years since I first heard about the Carrington Event and started reading a bit about coronal mass ejections and found out that they happen way more frequently than commonly realized and have been for centuries. Up until electricity, they were mostly considered manifestations of unknown celestial elements.

          I read a book about the crusades that was written very early in the 20th century, perhaps 1903 or thereabouts. In the book the author, in reciting the crusaders’ siege of the City of Aleppo mentioned that there were Aurora borealis visible in the sky the night before the attack. The crusaders thought it was a sign from God that they would be victorious the next day. The Mohammedans thought it was a sign from Allah that THEY would be victorious the next day. Sadly for the crusaders, they misinterpreted the phenomenon. The Mohammedans kicked their butts. The author only mentions the Aurora Borealis in passing because in 1903 no one was concerned about a CME taking out the electric grid. There wasn’t any. But I picked up on the fact that there must have been a pretty significant CME that impacted the earth in the 8th century if the A.B. was visible as far south as Aleppo, Syria.

          So I am a newcomer to the field of prepping. Sure don’t have all the answers either. Don’t even know all the questions yet. I try to read a lot and analyze what I am reading to see if it makes sense or is malarkey. There is a lot of malarkey floating around on preppier websites.

          Thanks for taking the time to write your article about meals in a bag. The whole question of shelf life of food is dictated by how it is prepared, for starters, but the most important part of shelf life is how it has been stored over the length of time since preparation. Did it sit in a hot UPS truck for a day in Phoenix in August? Are you storing it in a metal shed out back of the house in Mississippi? Like many of us, are you storing your prepper supplies in the garage where it is 120 during summer days and 25 during winter months? No one can say accurately how long any food will last. Food has been found in the Arctic Circle that was close to 100 years old and still edible. It had been frozen and thawed and frozen and thawed and the integrity of the food maintained. Certainly didn’t have the nutritional value it had when freshly canned, but if you are starving, even a can of nutritionally impaired beans will help.

          Reply to this comment
          • Christian Prepper Gal September 17, 23:22

            @left coast chuck, wow that certainly is some interesting information about the CMEs. I am one of those preppers who is prepping for the grid down either as a result of a CME or EMP.

            You are by no means a new prepper if you’ve been prepping for 15 years. I’ve been a prepper now for about 10 years, but have always had the mindset of one. Probably due to the fact that when I and my children were young we lived on a farm in the Upper Midwest and we had to be prepared for being stuck inside in the winter months due to snow and sometimes without electricity. I suppose that has kind of given me a head start on my actual prepping lifestyle.

            I do agree with you on the shelf life of long term food storage. I think I’ve learned that I should’t be inluding shelf life information in my videos or my articles. At least if I do it should be more general. I do appreciate your feedback and wisdom. I’m not above or beyond being able to learn from others. In fact, I love learning new things.

            Reply to this comment
    • Don September 16, 20:33

      I agree with this comment I know Christians are not dest8ned for the tribulation but the events leading up to that soon coming terrible time may well themselves get very ugly! I absolutely believe in wise prepping! My Wife and I started in the seventies with the oil embargo! Then again during Y2K, and haven’t stopped since!

      Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 16, 23:12

      @JayJay, very well said.

      Reply to this comment
  8. red September 18, 18:28

    No beans, please, Mom. Real chili is chili con carne, not chili con beans. Made refried beans in the pan after the meat is cooked. Add some onion and so on to them, and then mash and dehydrate for refried beans,. niio

    Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 19, 03:52

      @red, just in case you didn’t notice, the name of the meal is chilli with beef and beans, not chili con carne, lol. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Thanks for giving your opinion 🙂

      Reply to this comment
      • red September 19, 19:09

        CPG: Yup, Sister, I saw. And, you eat that, then have to hide from the predators? 🙂 No beans! niio

        Reply to this comment
        • Christian Prepper Gal September 19, 21:20

          We’ll just have to make sure to eat the chili when we know there are no predators around, lol. I hear ya though, loud and clear! I’m gonna have to stock up on some Beano, lol. Take care & God bless!

          Reply to this comment
          • red September 20, 00:34

            CPG” You also, walk in beauty. Epazote is the original Beano. If it likes where you live, it self-sows. A little goes a long way! Gotta go finish canning the 3 bean salad, haha! niio

            Reply to this comment
            • Christian Prepper Gal September 20, 03:33

              red, Epazote does not grow naturally where I live here in the upper Midwest. But, you did get me to “google” it to find out what it is, lol. Have fun with the canning 🙂

              Reply to this comment
  9. tonyG September 19, 01:08

    Great insight on life of preps. Ulitmately plan on eating what you put up, at whatever age. If you don’t, then make another plan. I’ve made some great pickles that turned to mush before I ate them. Wasted time, energy, produce and resources. The other hard-to-swallow fact-of-life is how long do you really expect to live, so that you can consume those preps? My garden is being overshadowed by large trees. Do I cut them down now so that the daylight isn’t impeded (really impacted production this year) or do I give up the garden? I’m 70, fairly good health, and hope to keep the garden hobby going for another decade. Just a thought.

    Reply to this comment
    • Christian Prepper Gal September 19, 03:58

      @tonyG, thankfully most of us learn from our mistakes. I bet you didn’t have mushy pickles again 🙂 I do agree with you that we will eat what we have available. In my case, I do not make the meals solely for myself. So, even when I die there will be someone else who will eat them. If it were me, and I had the resources to do so, I would have the trees cut down. Why not do what you enjoy doing while you can? I hope you can keep your garden hobby going for another decade as well! Take care & God bless!

      Reply to this comment
    • red September 19, 19:04

      tonyG: Depends on your area! What kind of trees? If maples or willow, the roots can grow thru your garden several feet a day. Up north, as you will, but at least thin them. Removing them may do more harm than good. I lived in Penna, Ohio, and now am home in Arizona. Only in Penna did we removed trees from near the garden. You have firewood, shade, and a windbreak in those trees. niio

      Reply to this comment
  10. vocalpatriot September 27, 19:26

    good article, a good place to start. Into a larger ziploc bag goes this meal, plus another of corn bread and any thing else that will complete this dinner.

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