Make-Ahead Recipe Jars: Homemade Instant Oatmeal, Pancake Mix, and Brownie Mix

Make-ahead meals and being more frugal, avoiding processed foods and weird ingredients, clean Mason jars with white labels on front, these are a few of my favorite things! ***

And it just so happens that I’ve got a nifty thrifty little project that combines all of these things! With just a few minutes of prep time, you, too, can have your pantry full of pancake mix, brownie mix, and instant oatmeal, without ever having to set foot in the grocery store.  There aren’t any strange ingredients that you’ll have to buy special. You just need the basic baking ingredients that you already have in your pantry. Save money, save time, reduce waste, and make your life easier!

Make Ahead Recipe Jars - Preview

As with most domestic endeavors, the key to success here is preparing the environment. Readying the container. Setting the stage. Here’s what you need to begin:

  • Large, medium, and small lidded containers (for oatmeal, pancake, and brownie mixes, respectively). My small container was a quart sized Mason jar, and my medium and large containers were just under a gallon. The brownie mix is a once-and-done recipe, but the other two you’ll scoop out as needed, so a larger opening works best!
  • Labels (masking tape works fine, or you can be super awesome and use your Multi-Function Label-maker and Laminator 6000…your choice!)
  • Permanent marker or penMake Ahead Recipe Jars - Ingredients
  • Baking ingredients: flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, oats, cinnamon, cocoa powder
  • Optional ingredients: raisins or other dried fruits, nuts, wheat germ, ground flax seed, oat flour


On each container, you’ll use three labels: one for the name of the mix, one for the list of ingredients to make the mix, and one for the list of ingredients you’ll add when you’re ready to use the mix, as well as any cooking instructions. Once you’ve made these labels, you’ll never need to refer to a recipe again, because it’s all right there on the jar! And after you run out of the mix, just fill it back up and you’re set for next time. If you’re playing along at home, here’s how we’re going to do it: First we’ll make all the labels at once, and then stick them on the jars, and then we’ll fill up all the jars at the same time. That way you only have to haul out the ingredients once! Here we go…

Make Ahead Recips Jars - Labels

Recipe Jar 1: Instant Oatmeal

Mix –

7 Cups of Old Fashioned rolled oats

3 Cups of powdered oats* (Just throw them in the food processor and pulverize!)

1-2 Cups brown sugar (1 Cup is lightly sweetened, 2 Cups is more like store-bought)

1 TBS Cinnamon

1 tsp salt


Optional Additions:

2-3 Cups raisins, dried fruits, or nuts

½-1 Cup of any of the following:

ground flax

chia seeds

wheat germ

powdered coffee creamer or powdered milk (These may shorten shelf-life a bit.)


*Note: Change the ratio of whole oats to powdered oats, depending on the texture you prefer for your oatmeal. The more oats that you grind up in your food processor, the more smooth and pasty the result will be. Fewer ground oats makes for a more chunky cereal. 

Add –

Kid serving: Add ½ Cup boiling water to ¼ Cup Mix. Let sit 3-5 minutes.

Adult serving: Add ¾ Cup boiling water to ½ Cup Mix. Let sit 3-5 minutes.

 (The ingredients will settle, so give it a shake/stir before you use it each time!)

Recipe Jar 2: Pancake Mix

Mix – (I doubled this recipe for my large container)

4 Cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 of those cups! I did!)

3 TBS baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 TBS sugar


Add –

1 heaping Cup of Mix

1 Cup of milk or milk substitute

1 egg

4 TBS melted butter or margarine


Recipe Jar 3: Brownie Mix

Mix –

1 ¼ Cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Cups sugar

2/3 Cup cocoa powder


Add –

2-3 eggs

1 stick melted butter or margarine

½ Cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9X13 pan for 25 minutes.

 Make Ahead Recipe Jars - Finished

Um, that’s it. The hard work is done, and now you can whip up some homemade deliciousness in no time! Happy eating!

***If you just tried to sing along with that, you have my sincerest apologies for the terrible syntax and lack of rhyme or rhythm. I spend my days with preschoolers and they think my on-the-spot songwriting is awesome. Cogent adults may disagree.

Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.


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