If winter is a time to cozy up and hibernate, spring is a time to open those windows, let in the fresh air and start cleaning house.
I am not one of those people who loves to clean, and I certainly don’t color code my closet or bookshelves, but I do enjoy a good spring cleaning. It’s a great time to get organized, clear out things that are past their prime and make room for all that’s new.
The area that I spend the most time cleaning for the new season is the kitchen. With three kids in the house, the half-used containers of pasta, boxes of crackers and bags of tortilla chips can start to pile up. And those jars of spices, bottles of oil and canned beans that got pushed to the back of the cupboard definitely need to be sorted through to see what’s still usable.
And since our meals will be changing from hearty and filling to lighter spring fare, this time of year also gives us a chance to spruce up our meal prep basics. Meal prepping can help us buy what we need and waste less of what we buy. Planning your meals out for the week is a great way to eat healthier and save precious dollars at the grocery store.
Here are my top tips for Spring Cleaning Meal Prep:
- Focus on quick cooking proteins, like JENNIE-O® lean ground turkey that can be used in multiple meals throughout the week. For example, it can be used to create this simple and flavorful Mexican Quinoa Bowl one day, and incorporated into other meals such as turkey tacos or turkey chili on subsequent days.
- Make sure you get your veggies by opting for time-saving shortcuts like pre-washed greens and salad kits
- Choose frozen, precooked grains, like brown rice and quinoa, which can save you up to 40 minutes of prep time
- Stock your freezer with frozen fruits and veggies, which are just as nutritious as fresh ones. The added benefit is that you can use the amount you need for a recipe and put the rest back in the freezer.
- Stock up on canned beans. This fiber-rich ingredient can be used in super-fast salads and grain dishes.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to prep every meal and snack for the week. It’s more realistic is to plan out and shop for three meals, as well as plenty of healthy snacks that you can prep in advance. This way you have more flexibility and are more likely to stick to your healthy cooking routine.
And while you’re doing your spring cleaning, here are some common items that will likely need to be replaced:
- Olive oil: Due to its sensitivity to heat and light, this healthy oil deteriorates fairly quickly. One way to tell if your oil needs a change is if it has gone from a greenish color to orange or gold. And if it smells rancid instead of fresh, toss it.
- Flour: This kitchen staple often comes packaged in a paper bag, but that’s not the best way to store it. If you bought it during the holiday baking season and it’s still in the paper bag, or if it has changed color, it’s time for a fresh one.
- Spices: Like oils, these are sensitive to heat and light, as well as moisture. If your spices are past the expiration date, it’s time to chuck them. And if you open that jar of thyme and it barely has a scent to it, it’s time to invest in a new jar.
After all that cleaning, it’s time for the fun part! Plan your meals for the week and shop for what your need. Don’t forget to restock pantry items that need to be replaced and then put them to good use in the recipe above or choose one of the delicious ideas here.