Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Cleaning: First Things

We have family arriving in the next few days, and I've started spring cleaning. In addition to this, my husband has several work projects around the house that need attention before people get here and the yard needs another clean-up from the latest devastating ice storm.

But before I started my cleaning project, I had a preparation day. I made sure I had all my cleaning supplies ready. I made sure I had appropriate clothing -- meaning, things to wear that I can spill anything on or tear holes in. I made sure I had a generous stash of my favorite coffee and tea supplies -- for breaks, you know. And I cooked ahead.

That's right. I cooked a bunch of food. This gave us a three-day supply of instant meals in the fridge. When people are hungry, they can go to the fridge, fill up a plate, and heat it in the microwave.

While the food was cookinBoldg, I cleaned out the fridge and tidied up the kitchen. By cleaning out the fridge, I made room for all of the foods I prepared. I also made sure that people don't eat spoiled food that will make them sick. Believe me, it can happen. One time, one of my children ate raw turkey bacon because it was in the same drawer as the lunch meat and then asked me why it tasted strange.

What did I cook? Easy things. Things that fill a body up, but that don't take much hands-on preparation. Staple foods that can easily be combined into meals. After the foods have cooled, I put the foods in zip-lock bags or plastic containers with lids and stack them neatly in my clean fridge.

Okay, I know you want to see the list! Here it is:

Baked potatoes
Baked sweet potatoes
Brown rice pilaf (in my rice cooker, with vegetables and spices)
Kamut pilaf (grain with vegetables and lemon juice)
2 lbs of green beans
Butternut squash, microwaved and topped with honey and cinnamon
2 lbs of frozen corn
2 lbs of Brussels sprouts
Large pan of baked beans
Large sheet of baked red peppers
Sweet and sour lentils
Eye of round steaks, individually frozen and ready for my son to grill in a small skillet
Salad supplies: lettuce, tomatoes, various vegetables, salad dressings
Fresh fruit: apples, oranges, bananas, grapes
Whole grain breads

The spices in my pilaf dishes rounded out the vegetables and made for a nice variety. We had oatmeal or cereal for breakfasts. My husband and I are vegetarians, so the beans and lentils served as our main courses. I also stocked the freezer with a wide variety of frozen vegetables that can be quickly heated in the microwave, offering supplements and additional side dishes to my prepared fare. I knew we would want good nutrition and filling foods, not just whatever we threw together or ordered from a restaurant, while we were working hard.

I'm always tempted to just dive into the work. You know, get going! But years of extended projects on a Victorian home taught me the value of having a prep day before working.

It seems like it takes extra time, but in the long run, it saves hours and hours.

How? Because nobody has to run to the store to buy something we need. Because the set-up and clean-up time is done all at once for our meals. Because this method eliminates all the food-related interruptions that are a normal part of daily life. I could never manage the once-a-month cooking that some of my friends did, but this worked well for me, as long as I didn't try to create dishes that were time-consuming or complicated. Keeping it simple has been important for me.

What kinds of food do you typically eat when you are working on a project?


  1. What a great idea to fix meals ahead of time before tackling a major cleaning project. Soups usually freeze well and can be frozen in servings enough for a meal. So if I cook enough for 2 meals, I can freeze it in two portions.

  2. Now that is smart! I usually get all into cleaning and purging and then hear the "I'm hungry!" complaints from the children - or my stomach :) I plan ahead for all other aspects, sure makes sense to be ready for spring cleaning. How timely. Thank you!


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