Editor’s Note: How Spring Cleaning Inspires My Weekly Menus

It has been way too long since the sun warmed my face (March snow storms are not OK!), so seeing the first signs of spring in the last few weeks has been a welcome change! The promise of spring inspires me to open up my windows and let the fresh air in. For me, “spring cleaning” is not only about changing out my wardrobe, but changing what I eat. While I loved cooking and eating my favorite comfort foods, like chili and lasagna, all winter, I was excited to break out the spring vegetables for dinner last night. In preparation for warmer days, I’m looking forward to trying a few new recipes using light, festive, and seasonal ingredients.

While I am excited to plant a new herb garden and stocking up on fresh produce, I know that it isn’t realistic for me to be out in the garden during the week (even with longer days), or to start making dinner from scratch every night. Most weeknights, I arrive home tired after a busy day at work and prefer to take in the warmer weather on the deck with my feet up than to spend it in the kitchen! To allow time for relaxation before the routine starts all over again the next day, I will turn to the same reliable foods in my pantry and freezer I’ve used all winter long, as they need little more than to be heated, seasoned, and served. To quickly and easily add a homemade touch and a hint of spring, I add fresh herbs or vegetables to finish off a meal using pre-packaged foods. For example, if I were to prepare the salad pictured above, I would likely use bagged arugula and prepared mozzarella, croutons, and salad dressing to save time, and then add fresh tomatoes and chopped fresh basil. By utilizing these convenient options along with fresh ingredients, I am getting the best of both worlds and can enjoy the fleeting beauty of spring in bloom before it’s gone!

Happy spring! What are some of your favorite spring foods? Tweet them @FoodInsight using the hashtag #springmenu.