Pantry cleanup and re-stock

Spring is a great time to clean out the pantry cupboard. The weather is finally nice and we can officially say goodbye to the days of flocking to the grocery store before the next big snow storm.. It’s so easy for your pantry to become congested with miscellaneous grocery items. Before we know it, we’re buying extras of the things we already have and we have no idea what we have on hand at home and what we don’t. Here are my tips to keeping a clean and organized pantry:

Take Inventory

First things, first. Take inventory of what you have on hand, toss everything that is expired and organize the rest into categories. My rule of thumb is to keep 2 of each pantry item on hand. For our family, this looks like 2 canned corn, 2 canned green beans, 2 pasta sauce, etc. Once I use one or both of an item, it goes on the grocery list on the fridge.

Donate unused non-perishables

Have something in your cupboard your family wasn’t into? Grab the wrong item on accident and now it’s sitting in your cupboard? Gather up the items in your pantry that you know you probably won’t be eating and consider donating it to your local food shelf. I try to do this at least twice a year. It never fails that I have at least a couple items in my cupboard that I just haven’t used or maybe we just bought way too much of. Take this time to free up space in your cupboards and give back to your community.

Only buy what you need

Now that you have taken inventory and have cleared out some space, try to stick to the “two” rule. Stocking up may seem like it’s saving you money but I often find that we save way more by just buying what we need as we run out and by keeping two of each item on hand, you eliminate frequent trips to the grocery store. This also comes in handy when we are doing our monthly budget because we have a much better idea of what we actually spend on groceries every month. Figure out what your family eats the most of and decide what you plan on cooking for the next week before you stock up.

Organize your dry goods

As for your flour, sugars and dry goods, consider purchasing air tight containers like the Rubbermaid Brilliance or OXO containers and label them. These save you money by keeping your ingredients fresh so you don’t have to toss that unsealed flour or your brown sugar that has turned into a rock. They are also clear so you can see exactly what you have and know when to stock back up. I use these removable pantry labels to label all of my containers and they work great with dry erase or permanent marker. They stick great but remove without residue and can be used again. I use them everywhere in my house.

I hope these tips put you well on your way to an organized kitchen. I know that keeping an organized pantry makes meal planning for the week so much easier for me since I already know what we have. Good luck!

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An easy one pan meal

If you follow my Instagram, you probably saw my favorite one pan meal last week. It’s super easy and makes for an awesome weeknight meal. My husband and I have been super busy at work and we had a sick little boy last week so I prepped this bad boy the night before and popped it in the oven when I got home from work on Thursday and it did not disappoint.

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@oakesmama

I’m pretty loosey-goosey with this “recipe” because it’s one of those meals you make when you need to use up a little bit of this-and-that. Which is pretty often in our house. So here it is!

1 package of whole grain spaghetti or fettucine noodles (doesn’t have to be a full package, I use about half a box or whatever is left)

1 can of low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons (approx) of olive oil or avocado oil

Minced garlic & fresh herbs (if you don’t have fresh, garlic powder and some italian seasoning or a few dollops of pesto works great)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Whatever you have for fresh veggies (I typically throw in whatever I have left for tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach… feel free to experiment!)

Chicken (I usually reach for chicken breast or maybe you have some leftover chicken you can toss in from earlier in the week. I also like to keep Italian chicken sausage in the freezer which makes for a super easy addition to this meal, just chop it up and toss it in!)

Cheese (this can seriously be any kind of cheese.. I have used fresh mozzarella, provolone, havarti, parmesan and sometimes a combination if I’m trying to use something up)

The process: Put your dry pasta (I like whole grain fettuccine) in a glass 9×13 baking dish. Add your oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs and seasoning. Give it a toss with your hands so you can evenly distribute the oil on the pasta. Toss in your chopped vegetables and give it another little toss. Now you can add your chicken however you like. In my last run of this, I placed one big chicken breast right on top and seasoned it just like my pasta. Next, take your chicken broth and pour it over the whole dish, this is what will cook your pasta to perfection. I then place 4-5 slices of cheese over the dish (shredded works great if you have it but I used sliced havarti last time and sprinkled parmesan over top). Place foil over the top and pop it in the fridge to sit overnight. You don’t have to let it sit overnight but I recommend it if you plan on using fettuccine. When you get home from work, pop this in the oven with the foil on at 375 degrees for about an hour, it just depends on if you are using fully cooked meat or not. If you are, you can pull that bad boy out of the oven as soon as it’s bubbly and the pasta is tender.

 

If you are the type that likes to follow recipes word-for-word, maybe this isn’t the recipe for you.. But if you are like me and often fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to dinner time, give this a try!  Feel free to be creative and incorporate things you know your family likes! My husband loves pesto so this is an easy one to turn into a delicious pesto chicken bake and I never have to boil any pasta!

I hope you try out this fun recipe this week and if you do, please share your masterpiece!

Enjoy

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Hi, I’m Emily.

The older, yet not always wiser sister, my name is Emily and I’m excited to be embarking on a new wellness endeavor with my built in bff. I’m the talker, the joiner and the over achiever but motherhood has changed my life so much and doing this thing alongside my sister has only added to the magic of being a new mom.

I live in southern Minnesota with my husband, our 9 month old, Violet, and a giant black lab puppy named Josie. I talk for my job, travel all across southern MN and office out of my home. This means I have to be creative and mindful in my wellness pursuits- our life is not built for routine! I spend my days learning about safer products & healthier eats, exploring new ways of fitness, drinking far too much coffee, loving on our girls and listening to all the true crime podcasts I can get my hands on.

Wellness to me means embracing the journey towards health in all areas of life. Balance is not something that comes naturally to me so focusing on doing what we can, with what we got while sharing that journey with others fills my (coffee) cup. So if you’re into that sort of thing, I think we’re meant to be friends. Take a peek at some of the awesome recipes, cleaner swaps, wellness tips and mom moments we have to share with you.

Cheers!

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