Spring clean your pantry with these budget-friendly tips

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Spring is a customary season to organize around the house, but it’s also a great time to think about resetting your grocery spending and eating habits. If you are looking to save money, feel more prepared and organize your kitchen, start your spring cleaning in the pantry with these tips.

A shelf full of glass jars filled with food.
Spring is the best time to give your pantry a clean start. Embrace this fresh opportunity and stay on budget while doing it. Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Mason jars make versatile storage

When it comes to storing items in your pantry, mason jars, also known as canning jars, are cost-effective and ideal for both long-term and short-term storage. Made of glass, mason jars are BPA-free and dishwasher safe so they can be used again and again. Investing in mason jars during your spring cleaning routine can provide a versatile storage solution for generations.

Laura Sampson of the Little Frugal Homestead, an experienced home canner, notes, “My pantry is full of home-canned foods, and all of them are in mason jars. I’ve got jars my mom and grandmother used to use in their pantries as well. As long as they’re intact and you use fresh lids, you can reuse them again and again.”

Mason jars can also help prolong the shelf life of any foods you want to store. Ball, a leading maker of mason jars, manufactures airtight lids for their jars which will keep foods fresh longer. They also make a variety of sizes for every storage need.

Foods you can store in mason jars

Mason jars are essential for home food preservation. Preserving your own fruits, vegetables, jams and sauces in mason jars is a great way to keep healthy and delicious canned goods in your pantry, especially if you grow your own produce in your garden. Learn how to quick pickle to save money by reducing waste. 

But mason jars can store far more than canned goods. They work particularly well for:

Homemade salad dressings: Shake all of your ingredients together in a mason jar and store until ready to use. A homemade salad dressing can be as simple as mixing olive oil and vinegar, but you can also get more adventurous with various vinegars and seasonings.

Drinks: Serving iced tea, lemonade, beer, cocktails or water with fruit in a mason jar is a fun way to enjoy your favorite drinks. You can prepare several jars at once and store them in the fridge, then drink them right from the jar.

Fermentation: Mason jars are the perfect container for fermenting kimchi, sauerkraut, lemons, carrots and more. A mason jar also works well for sourdough starter or kombucha.

Dried goods: Mason jars offer storage for beans, rice, lentils, oats and other dried foods. With airtight lids, a mason jar can keep dried goods fresh and nutritious for well over a year.

Spice mixes and seasonings: Mix up a batch of homemade taco seasoning or your other favorite spice blend and store it in a mason jar. This makes it easy to customize your seasonings to your family’s taste and keep your most-used mixes on hand.

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Creative uses for canned beans

Stocking your pantry with canned beans is an affordable way to make flavorful and filling meals. Beans are packed with protein and other nutrients. A cup of canned beans has an average of 15 grams of protein per cup, according to My Food Data, as well as fiber, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Canned beans are also convenient. They are available at most grocery stores and, unlike dried beans, canned beans do not require soaking. This makes them an easy option to streamline your meal prep process.

Beans are versatile in terms of flavor and will work well in a variety of cuisines. Try a bean and chicken soup for a tasty meal on a colder spring day, or mix beans into your other favorite salads. With a variety of beans to choose from — such as kidney beans, white beans, black beans and chickpeas — you can experiment with textures and flavors in soups, pasta dishes, salads and more.

Cost-effective ways to use dried goods

As you organize your pantry this spring, stock up on dried goods. Pantry staples like beans, lentils and rice are must-haves for those looking for budget-friendly meals. 

Dried goods are among the most affordable groceries you can buy. They also have a long shelf life when stored in a cool and dry place, such as in mason jars. Dried beans will last at least a year, according to the US Dry Bean Council. Rice and lentils will last for years as well. This makes it convenient to buy dried goods in bulk during spring cleaning and cook filling, healthy meals for the rest of the year.

Learn how to cook lentils, rice and dried beans this year and make them the base for your meal prep. Dried goods can make a great base for soups, stews, salads, casseroles and even pasta dishes.

Dried beans, rice and lentils generally have mild flavors, so it’s easy to adjust them to your tastes by adding your favorite spices, vegetables and other ingredients. Make simple, comforting meals or explore dishes from other cultures.

Organize your pantry for a budget-friendly and delicious meal prep

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to get rid of the things you don’t need and reorganize your home. After you clean out any old and expired food, invest in storage solutions like mason jars and affordable, shelf-stable foods. Making this part of your annual cleaning routine can set your family up for a healthy and affordable year.

Sharon Rhodes is the creative force behind the food blog The Honour System. With a passion for all things homemade, Sharon is a seasoned recipe curator focused on making healthier cooking and baking accessible to all.

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