Smart storage is a lot of things.

The main idea is, however, to store stuff correctly and store it in a place where you will find it. So we need to concentrate on methods of storage AND organization!

Tip #1 – Know how to store different kinds of produce

First, check out this Store Smarter Information Sheet from the Rethink Food Waste Challenge tool kit all about smart storage, particularly for fresh produce.

Tip #2 – Use your freezer, but know how to do it!

  • Make sure your food is completely cooled BEFORE you put it in the freezer.
  • When freezing fruits and veggies, you want to keep the air out and the package and the moisture inside. So put the produce in an air-tight (heavy duty freezer bag) container and suck the air out. Small and think sandwich bags are not the same as a heavy duty freezer bag. Don’t want to use plastic? Here is an article all about how to freeze without plastic.
  • Don’t overload your freezer. You don’t want an empty freezer, but if you pack it all the way full, there isn’t room for air to circulate, which is important.

Tip #3 – Learn about ethylene.

Ethylene is something present in produce that helps it ripen. Some fruits and veggies produce it like crazy, and others are very susceptible to its effects. I found it difficult to research; there seem to be conflicting statements about some produce. But I thought this article from United World Transportation was pretty comprehensive and helpful.

Tip #4 – Learn about Humidity Control Drawers

You know, those drawers in your fridge. The ones with the sliders and numbers. Those exist for a reason! One participant uses them like an Eat First basket. “Left = leave it, Right = ready”. That’s a great idea! Also, here is an article about what they were designed for: humidity control!

Tip #5 – Organize your fridge and keep it that way!

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but seriously. Organize your fridge. I know it can be hard to keep it that way, but it’s so much easier not to lose things in there if you know where stuff is! Here is a great article about a suggested fridge organization method. The same goes for your freezer. Organize it.

Tip #6 – Learn all about dates on your food

Part of storing smart is knowing about shelf life of food products. There are all kinds of dates that are listed on food products. Sell by, best by, use by… sometimes it gets confusing. But did you know you can often eat products well after the date says you can’t? Yogurt, for example, keeps for a very. Long. Time. Still Tasty is an excellent website with a seemly exhaustive list of products and how to tell if they are still edible.

Are you confused about mold on cheeses? This article addresses just that!

How about eggs? This is a good article about the observation that in the US we refrigerate our eggs while in most other countries they do not. Ever wonder why?

Week 4 RFW Challenge Prizes

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is headed toward its final days: Week 4 (June 4-June 11). The challenge began on May 14th: 213 households signed up to participate! Learn more about the challenge here.

If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, June 13. Also, if you have entered at least 3 of the 4 weeks of your food waste data, you will be entered in the grand prize drawing for $410 worth of Harvest Bucks from Dome Grown Produce!

Check out this week’s prizes:

Week 4 RFW Challenge Prizes

Draw #1: $100 gift card to the grocery store of your choice and an Oxo jar spatula!

Draw #2: A set of 8 Oxo nesting glass containers with snapping lids!

Draw #3: A set of 3 reusable Chico Bag produce bags and a set of 3 stainless steel nesting containers!

Dome Grown Harvest Bucks Grand Prize

The final week of the Rethink Food Waste Challenge is about to begin. The challenge began on May 14th: 213 households signed up to participate! Learn more about the challenge here.

Folks who entered their wasted food data for at least 3 of the 4 weeks of the challenge will be entered into the grand prize drawings. 2 people will win $440 worth of Harvest Bucks from Dome Grown Produce!

$440 is a lot to spend at the Farmer’s Market. We know! And we just learned lots about how not to waste food. So you have some options.

—Eat your heart out! And preserve those veggies. Canned goods make great gifts, after all. Or freeze it for future use!
—Give a card or two away to your friends.
—Donate a card to a food-related cause. Check out the Grow and Give Program through the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. HDFFA works with NeighborImpact to get fresh produce to folks who need it. Because everyone deserves access to fresh and healthy food.
—Donate a card to the Family Kitchen whose mission it is to serve anyone who needs a nutritious meal in a safe and caring environment.

 

Dome Grown Harvest Bucks Grand Prize

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If you’ve dined with small children lately, you probably noticed they wasted food. Like a lot. It goes with the territory, and it can be rough sometimes. Abstract things like money, waste, hunger, food justice, etc., can be difficult to explain to small children. You just have to do the best you can. Here are some tips from my experience with a 5 year old.

DON’T make them clean their plate. That’s old school and while it may prevent waste, it doesn’t teach healthy eating habits. Serve small portions, they can always have more.

DO ask them to be a Food Hero and try new things. Food Heroes don’t have to like it, they just have to try it. And since their taste buds are still developing, they literally have to try something over 10 times to actually be open to liking it. This encourages good eating habits, and prevents waste in the long run. It also gets me in the habit of serving what we’re eating to her, plus stuff I know she likes. I serve in small portions knowing that she can be picky, and has a varying appetite. If she eats it all, great she can have more. If she doesn’t like it, we usually end up eating it and serve our portions accordingly, knowing we’ll be supplementing with her food.

DON’T cut off the crust. {I’m talking to my husband here}. Sometimes our kiddo eats the crust, mostly she doesn’t. I don’t make her eat it, but I’m not going to let her think it’s normal to have a sandwich with no crust. She sometimes makes deals that if I buy soft white bread she’ll eat the crust off that, which I sometimes give in to, for that exact reason. But sometimes, she realizes she doesn’t mind the crust, regardless of what kind of bread it is.

DO cut off other things that make sense. If I leave the tops on strawberries, only half of it is eaten. If I expertly slice off the greens, she downs the strawberry, so I’ll take the extra effort on that one. Keep an eye out on what prep you could do that helps them eat the good stuff.

DO plan to make use of their leftovers when possible. The apple with a ring around the outside has made it into the following day’s smoothie. (If I slice it ahead of time she won’t eat it as it’s brown by lunch time. I’m going to experiment with this by drizzling lemon sometime to see if she likes that, and next time I have oranges in the house I’ll pair apple slices with orange slices to keep them fresher looking). Her unfinished dinner, if it’s something she liked and was an unfinished second helping, is her leftover lunch.

DO ask your kids to help with meal prep, including lunches for school. It gets them more likely to eat healthy food if they were involved in prepping/cooking it. Prep as much as possible so they can easily access the food quickly and without assistance (a reusable bag/container is easier to open than a packaged snack bag, plus you don’t have all the packaging waste, and if they don’t eat it all they can have it the next day).

DO offer fruit first. In an effort to encourage healthy eating habits (and so the perishables don’t spoil) get in the habit of offering fresh fruit first, before packaged/processed food. This can be as an after school snack, or after bed when they’re suddenly hungry even though they were “full” from barely eating their dinner!? Our rule is our kid can have fruit most any time, and that’s generally the only thing they can have after dinner and/or before bed.

Check out this list of food waste prevention tips with kids.

Do you have any tips about preventing food waste with kids? Let us know in the comments!

We are entering into week 3 of the rethink food waste challenge! This week’s theme is Prep Smarter.

Tip #1: Prep It Now

If you are using your Shop Smarter Menu Plan, you hopefully have an idea of what  figure out if there is anything you can prepare right now.  When you get home from the store, wash, dry, chop, dice, slice and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking. Don’t put it off, just do it now. 

Image result for chopped vegetables in fridge

In this vein, if you prep the food intended for snacking, you will be more likely to reach for those cut and ready to dip carrots rather than the junk in the cupboard. Smart Prep is good for your health, too! Healthy eating is important and highly encouraged. However, I did just learn a very interesting fact that healthy eaters tend to waste more food. Check out this article all about it. If you want all the nitty-gritty, here is the actual scientific paper from  How should this be combatted? Smart shopping and smart prep! Have a plan for that healthy produce in your fridge.

Tip #2: Batch cooking

Cut your time spent preparing food each week by batch cooking entire meals ahead of time that can be stored in the fridge or freezer. Try making a big pot of soup and freezing it in individual serving sizes!

Tip #3: What does your family like to eat?

Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.

Tip #4: Befriend your freezer!

Rely on your freezer – but remember what you froze. The china marker I mentioned last week is great for labeling or you can use tape and a marker! Or you can keep a list on the front of the freezer and easily know what’s in there. This will help you plan meals, save money and reduce waste.

  • Label what you put in your freezer.
  • Keep a list of what’s in there, too!
  • Slice up the rest of that loaf of bread and use it a little bit at a time.
  • Chop up the fruit that you don’t have time to eat and put it in the freezer, ready for a smoothie.

Tip #5: Learn to “quick pickle”!

Pickling sounds intimidating, but it’s SO EASY!

Advanced pickling: fermented vegetables!

Already mastered the quick pickle? How about learning to make some sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables?

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is about to embark on Week 3 (May 28-June 3). The challenge began on May 14th: 213 households signed up to participate! Learn more about the challenge here.

If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, June 5.

Check out this week’s prizes:

RFWC Week 3 Prizes

Draw #1: $100 gift card to the grocery store of your choice and a set of 3 nesting stainless steel food storage containers.

Draw #2: A set of 4 Oxo nesting glass containers with snapping lids and a set of 3 etee beeswax wraps.

Draw #3: A set of 3 reusable Chico Bag produce bags and a red hydroflask food flask.

The age of technology means we have an utterly overwhelming supply of information at our fingertips. Sometimes it’s a bane, but often a blessing! I just found some food on the verge of going bad that needs to be used tonight. What should I do?

First of all, I just want to say that technology usually refers to computers, but an old fashioned technology that is often forgotten is pen and paper.

  • Start taping a list to the front of your freezer so you know immediately what’s in there!

Here are some awesome articles all about how to use up leftover things:

Here are some recipe data bases or apps that make it easy to search by ingredient:

Did you know Alexa can help you with food waste? And other technologies, too.

  • Alexa has been programed to help you remember what’s in your fridge. If you use this device, it’s worth looking in to how to use this function! But it’s pretty interesting to know about, even if you don’t have it.
  • Check out this list of crazy new technologies that are also helping folks reduce food waste!

Speaking of technology, one rethink food waste challenge participant, Kim Ely, is writing about her experience in the challenge on her blog!

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is on!

Hundreds of households in Deschutes County have taken the challenge: because we want to rethink food waste. Too much food goes into the landfill every year and we want to change that in our community. You can too, it’s easy! If you haven’t already, sign up here.

The first week, the theme was “Do as you normally do.” This gives everyone an idea of what happens on a regular basis in their household and shows a normal amount of food waste for their household: a number to compare future numbers to.

It is true that because folks are in a mindset to prevent wasted food already (just by signing up for the challenge and beginning to think about what goes on in their house), the numbers are probably different than an average week. But that’s ok! This isn’t a scientific study, but just a tool for education.

Week 2: Shop Smarter

Way more often than not, we spend more money at the grocery store than we need to.

  • We get lured in by “buy one get one free” and “2 for 1” – you can save money doing this, but only if you actually eat what you buy
  • We buy what’s on sale – yes you save because it’s not full price, but will you eat that dollar-a-pound asparagus before it goes bad?
  • We tend toward the bulk buys and less expensive per ounce foods – it’s true, it’s cheaper by the pound, but how much of that food will you toss in the end?

Not only does this mean we are wasting money, but we are also wasting food. So this week, let’s focus on only buying what we need.

Here are some tips around this week’s theme:

  • First, make an Eat First baskets for your fridge!
    • This is a basket with an “Eat First” label: a place for you to segregate the food in your fridge you know needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. If something doesn’t fit, place it nearby. Don’t have an Eat First card? You can print your own!
      Ani's Eat First Basket
  • Take a few minutes to organize your fridge so you know what is in there and where things are.
  • Print out the Shop Smarter Tool
  • Before you add anything to your list, LOOK IN YOUR FRIDGE! What needs to be eaten this week? Are those green beans starting to turn? Is half of that rotisserie chicken still sitting there from a few days ago?
  • Try using a meal planning app like Handpick  or Mealime. Do you have one you already use and love? Let us know about it!
  • Buy only what you need!
  • Check out this blog about one person’s experience with meal planning.

Do you have ideas about smart shopping or meal planning or fridge organization? Let us know in the comments!

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is still going on! Week 2 (May 21-May 27), which begins tomorrow, will culminate in 3 prize drawings. 213 households in Deschutes County signed up to participate. Learn more about the challenge here.

If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, May 29.

Check out this week’s prizes:

week2prizesDraw#1: $100 grocery store gift card of your choice, an OXO jar spatula and a set of reusable ChicoBag produce bags.

Draw #2: A set of 3 sturdy leak-proof stainless steel containers, a set of 3 OXO silicone spatulas, and a 3 pack of etee beeswax food wraps.

Draw #3:  A hydroflask food flask and a set of 4 glass OXO food storage containers with snapping lids.

The Rethink Food Waste Challenge has begun! Week 1 (May 14-May 20) will culminate in 3 prize drawings. If you enter your week’s wasted food data, you will automatically be entered in the prize drawing, which will happen on Tuesday, May 22.

Check out this week’s prizes:
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Draw#1: $100 grocery store gift card of your choice and a set of 3 Oxo silicone spatulas.

Draw #2: $50 grocery store gift card of your choice and a 3 pack of etee beeswax food wraps.

Draw #3: An Oxo jar spatula and a hydroflask food flask.