5 smart money tips to help you spring clean your pantry budget – Orange County Register

By Sharon Rhodes | The Associated Press

Spring is a typical season for getting organized at home, but it’s also a great time to think about reviewing your grocery spending and eating habits. If you’re looking to save money, feel more prepared, and organize your kitchen, start your spring pantry cleaning with these tips.

Mason jars provide versatile storage

When it comes to storing items in your pantry, Mason jars, also called canning jars, are cost-effective and ideal for both long-term and short-term storage. Made from 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 Little Frugal Homestead, an experienced home canner, notes, “My pantry is full of homemade canned foods, and they’re all in Mason jars. I also have jars that my mother and grandmother used in their pantry. As long as they are intact and you use new lids, you can reuse them over and over again.

Mason jars can also help extend the shelf life of foods you want to preserve. Ball, a leading mason jar manufacturer, makes airtight lids for its jars that will keep food fresh longer. They also offer a variety of sizes for every storage need.

Foods You Can Store in Mason Jars

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

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

Homemade Dressings: Shake all your ingredients in a mason jar and store them 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.

Beverages: 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 a time and store them in the refrigerator, then drink them directly 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 or kombucha.

Dried Goods: Mason jars store beans, rice, lentils, oats and other dried foods. With tight-fitting lids, a mason jar can keep dried goods fresh and nutritious for over a year.

Spice Blends and Seasonings: Mix up a batch of homemade taco seasoning or your other favorite spice blend and store in a mason jar. This makes it easy to customize your seasonings to suit your family’s tastes and keep your most-used blends close at hand.

Creative Uses for Canned Beans

Stocking your pantry with canned beans is an affordable way to prepare tasty and filling meals. Beans are packed with protein and other nutrients. A cup of canned beans contains 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 it a simple option for streamlining your meal prep process.

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

Cost-Effective Ways to Use Dried Produce

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

Dried produce is some of the most affordable groceries you can buy. They also have a long shelf life when stored in a cool, 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 also last for years. This makes it easy to buy dried goods in bulk while spring cleaning and preparing healthy meals for the rest of the year.

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