Chili with beef and beans | Meal-in-a-bag

Just add water!

Chili meal-in-a-bag great for camping, backpacking, hiking, long term food storage.
I tested this recipe using the microwave and a glass bowl.

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 (Meals Ready to Eat). 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 (even if they were starving!). 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 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, lol.

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!!

So, there ya have it, whether you wanted to or not, lol. Now you know what lead me to making meals-in-a-bag. Without further ado, I would like to share with you how I made this most delicious chili meal-in-a-bag!

Chili with beans and meat meal-in-a-bag recipe

Dehydrated pinto beans for prepper, backpacking, camping, hiking, and long term food storage
Pinto beans I dehydrated

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. I will have a blog of preparing the pinto beans up on the site soon.

Dehydrated red and green bell peppers with onions for prepper, backpacking, camping, hiking, and long term food storage
Red and green bell peppers with onions I dehydrated

I 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 (PRINT/DOWNLOAD RECIPE)

(Updated 10/19/2019)*

(1 serving)


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.

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.

4. Vacuum seal the bag containing all of the ingredients.

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.)


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.


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

Put 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.

Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!

* (Updated 10/19/2019: I reduced the amount of crushed red pepper flakes and chili powder in half from the original recipe. I realized it may be a little too spicy in an emergency situation where water may not be readily available to cool down the mouth.)