Food Waste

Food Waste and Repurposing

Are you tired of throwing out perfectly good food? As a nutrition and health
educator, I’m here to tell you that food waste is bad for the environment and
for your health!

Did you know that in the US alone, we waste around 40% of our food supply?
That’s a staggering amount of food that could be repurposed and reused in
creative ways. By reducing food waste, we can help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and save money on our grocery bills.

One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to repurpose leftovers. Instead
of throwing out that extra chicken from last night’s dinner, why not turn it
into a tasty chicken salad for lunch today? You can also turn leftover
vegetables into a delicious soup or stir-fry.

Another way to reduce food waste is to plan your meals ahead of time. By
doing so, you can buy only what you need and avoid buying too much food
that will go to waste.

And don’t forget about composting! Composting is a great way to turn food
waste into nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Not only does it reduce waste,
but it also helps to create a more sustainable food system.

Remember, Planning is Key to sticking to a budget you can afford while
reducing food waste and being good to our planet. So, let’s all do our part to
reduce food waste and repurpose our leftovers. Not only will it benefit the
environment, but it will also benefit our health and wallets. Let’s get creative
in the kitchen and see what delicious dishes we can come up with!

Kelly Alarcon, BSNS, California State University, Long Beach and Food Finders
Nutrition Educator, is passionate about showing others the path to wellness
through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Stretching Resource Dollars 2.0

What are resource dollars, you ask?

Your resource dollars can be the cold, hard cash you work so hard for, or it can also be
CalFresh, known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This
July Edition is all about making both work harder for your household.
https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh#:~:text=CalFresh%2C%20known%20fed
erally%20as%20the,an%20essential%20hunger%20safety%20net..

Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining good health but can also help you stretch
your resource dollars. By making intelligent choices about what you eat and how you
prepare your meals, you can save money while still getting all the nutrients your body
needs.

One of the best ways to save money on food is to cook at home. By preparing your meals,
you can avoid the high costs of eating out and have more control over your ingredients.
This can be especially helpful if you’re trying to eat a healthy diet, as many restaurant
meals are high in calories, salt, and unhealthy fats.

You can use a few key strategies to save money when buying groceries. First, look for sales
and discounts on healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole
grains. You can also save money by buying in bulk or choosing generic or store-brand
products instead of name-brand items.

Another way to stretch your resource dollars is to plan your meals ahead of time. This can
help you avoid impulse purchases and reduce food waste by using ingredients before they
spoil. You can also save money by incorporating leftovers into future meals.

In addition to being cost-effective, a healthy diet can also help you save money on
healthcare expenses. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce
your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This can lower
healthcare costs and help you maintain good health in the long run.

Finally, it’s important to remember that proper nutrition doesn’t have to be expensive.
Many healthy, affordable foods can provide all the nutrients your body needs. Some
examples include beans, lentils, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned tuna, and brown rice.
By making intelligent choices about what you eat and how you prepare your meals, you
can stretch your resource dollars and maintain good health at the same time.

Remember, Planning is Key when stretching resource dollars while reducing food waste
and being good to our planet, and by following these tips, you can achieve more with less
and reach your goals without overspending. Remember, it’s not about how much you
spend but how effectively you use your available resources.

In conclusion, proper nutrition is essential for good health but can also help you save
money. You can stretch your resource dollars and achieve your nutritional goals by
cooking at home, looking for sales and discounts, planning your meals, and making
intelligent choices about what you eat.

Kelly Alarcon, Nutrition Educator with a BS in Nutrition and Food Science –
Nutrition and Dietetics, California State University, Long Beach, is passionate
about showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger
and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Working full-time in addition to running a small business is time-consuming,
so planning my shopping trips is critical to time management, which, in the
long run is best for my physical and mental health. I have found the best
options for SoCal natives eating for wellness on a budget by shopping at
Walmart, Costco, Aldi, Vons, Food 4 Less, and Trader Joe’s.

Eating healthy is essential for maintaining good health and preventing
chronic illnesses. However, many people think that eating healthy is
expensive and not affordable. That doesn’t have to be the case, as there are
many ways to eat healthy on a budget. This blog post will discuss some tips
for healthy eating on a budget.

Plan your meals
One of the best ways to eat healthy on a budgetis to plan your meals ahead
of time. Plan your weekly meals, make a grocery list, and stick to it. This will
help you avoid impulse buys and reduce food waste.

Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk can save you money in the long run. Look for bulk bins at your
local grocery store or buy in bulk online. You can buy staples like rice, beans,
nuts, and seeds in bulk, which can be used in many recipes.
But be careful to avoid getting lured into a bulk purchase that does not suit
your needs. If you throw it away, that is not only a waste of money but also
harmful to the environment, so be a smart shopper.

Shop for seasonal produce

Buying produce that is in season can save you money. Seasonal produce is often cheaper than out-of-season produce and tastes better. Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce. However, frozen is an excellent option. See my tips below for more info.

  • Vegetables: Fresh is great, but if you do not plan to use them within 3-4 days, you increase your chances of food waste, which is bad for the budget and the environment. Bell peppers and onions tend to last longer when fresh. I buy many vegetables in the frozen section to avoid waste and save money. They are just as nutritious as fresh without the waste. Frozen veggie food hack. Don’t waste your money on the frozen veggies in ready-steam bags; buy the nonsteam frozen options, put your desired serving in a zip lock baggie, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Put a bit of butter and season to taste when it cools off. I love Tajin on my steamed veggies for a citrusy kick.
  • Fruit: is best fresh. Frozen can be used in making sauces or smoothies. You can freeze your fresh fruit before it spoils for future use in smoothies. Here’s a link to Betty Crocker for freezing tips: https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/seasonal-ideas/how-to-freeze-fresh-fruit

Cook at home
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to eat healthy on a budget. Eating out
can be expensive, and you never know what ingredients are used. Cooking at
home allows you to control the ingredients and portion sizes.

Use meat as a flavoring
Meat can be expensive, so try using it as a flavoring instead of the main
ingredient. You can add a small amount of meat to a dish for flavor and use
plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, and tofu as the main
ingredient. Here are some tips for animal protein sources.

  • Pork: there are always cuts on sale between $.99 and $1.50/lb.
    This can be made into stews, meat for tacos, egg scrambles,
    burritos, or burrito bowls.
  • Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breast is $2.59/lb at Aldi.
    Pound out some chicken breast, season, sear, and finish in the
    oven for on-the-go chicken breast to top a salad with, make tacos,
    unbreaded orange chicken, or just by itself with a side of rice and
    vegetables.
  • Beef: What can I say about beef other than that this protein is up
    in price by almost 50%, so keep your eyes peeled for what fits
    your budget? I draw the line on what I will pay for proteins at
    $4.50/lb. You will find various cuts on sale meeting this price. You
    just have to look for it
  • Seafood: Crazy expensive, and I keep my eyes on the sales, but
    even the sales are out of my range most weeks.
  • Various Sausages: Aldi is my go-to when nothing is on sale. They
    almost always have bratwurst or knackwurst on sale for a quick
    weekday meal of sausage and peppers over rice.

Buy generic brands
Generic brands can be just as good as name-brand products and are often
cheaper. Look for generic brands for staples like flour, sugar, and canned
goods.

Freeze leftovers
Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Freeze them for later use. You can freeze
leftover soups, stews, and casseroles for a quick and easy meal later.
Eating healthy on a budget is possible. By planning your meals, buying in bulk,
shopping for seasonal produce, cooking at home, using meat as a flavoring,
buying generic brands, and freezing leftovers, you can save money and eat
healthy at the same time.

Remember, planning is key to sticking to a budget you can afford while
reducing food waste and being good for our planet.

Kelly Alarcon, BSNS, California State University, Long Beach, is passionate about
showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and
food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Food Waste and Repurposing

We all know that food waste is a major issue all around the world. In fact, about
one-third of all the food produced globally goes straight to the trash. This not only
wastes resources and money but also has a negative impact on the environment.
But there is a solution to this problem, and that is repurposing food. Repurposing
food means taking the food that is about to expire or has already expired and
finding a new use for it. For instance, stale bread can be turned into croutons, and
overripe fruit can be used to make a smoothie or some delicious baked goods.

Repurposing food can help reduce food waste and save you some money too.
Instead of buying new ingredients, you can use what you already have in your
kitchen. Plus, it’s a great way to get creative in the kitchen and try out new recipes.

My internship at Food Finders has given me a platform to educate others on food
waste, repurposing, and nutrition.

Another way to reduce food waste is to plan your meals ahead of time. By doing
this, you can make sure you don’t buy more than you need and use everything
before it goes bad. Additionally, storing food properly can help it last longer.

Meal planning is one of the most significant ways to prevent food waste.
Fridge temp 39 degrees Celsius. Who hasn’t gone to the store hungry? Going to the
store hungry is the #1 offender of a well-planned shopping trip.
When you plan your meals or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste. And
don’t forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet–a big plus! l. Planning
your meals for the week and creating your shopping list based on your meals can
cut waste by 15% or more.
So, let’s all do our part to fight food waste. By repurposing food and making an
effort to reduce waste, we can help create a more sustainable future for ourselves
and for the planet.

Nutrition Talks Program

In our Nutrition Talks Program with partner agencies, I do a basic overview of
nutrition and its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in
what they are learning. One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop, which
starts with a scavenger hunt for a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties
up with a Q&A on the information presented.

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City
College is one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food. It isn’t
enough that we are getting food into the hands of those in need but also to educate
them on the many nutrient-dense meals possible while reducing waste.

#StopFoodWasteWednesday #NutritionTalks #TipsForZeroWaste #FoodFindersInc #LBRecovers #HealthyActiveLongBeach #EatLessMEat #MeatlessMondays

Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach, with a concentration in Nutrition and
Nutritional Science, is passionate about showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while
reducing hunger and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Stretching Resource Dollars

Stretching Resource Dollars: How to Achieve More with Less

The key to success in today’s economy is making the most of the resources you have.
Whether you’re running a business, managing a non-profit, a student or just trying to
make ends meet, finding ways to stretch your resource dollars can help you achieve your
goals without breaking the bank.

What are resource dollars you ask?

Your resource dollars can be the cold hard cash you work so hard for or it can also be
CalFresh, known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
Making both work harder for your household is what this July Edition is all about.
https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh#:~:text=CalFresh%2C%20known%20fed
erally%20as%20the,an%20essential%20hunger%20safety%20net


How to stretch your resource dollars.

  1. Assess Your Needs: Before you spend a dime, assess your needs. What do you truly need
    to feed yourself and your family for the week? Can you find ways to shop more efficiently
    with what you already have? By identifying what you already have on hand, you can avoid
    wasting money on unnecessary items.
  2. Prioritize Your Spending: Once you know what you need, prioritize your spending based
    on what’s most important. Make a list before you go to the store, and allocate your
    resources accordingly. This will help you avoid overspending on less important items and
    ensure that you’re getting the most value for your money.
  3. Look for Deals and Discounts: Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals and
    discounts.
    Whether you’re food, or buying school supplies, there are often ways to save
    money if you’re willing to do a little research. Look for online coupons, bulk discounts, and
    other special promotions that can help you stretch your dollars. Be mindful of the bulk
    buys when it comes to your perishables. Bigger is not always better so shop smart. I love a
    good bargain as much as the next person but I will not buy something in excess just
    because the bulk sizer is cheaper per pound if that means it will end up in the landfills
    wasting precious resources and wasting food.
  4. Consider Alternative Resources: Sometimes, the best way to stretch your resource
    dollars
    is to think outside the box. Are there alternative resources you can use to achieve
    your goals? For example, remember the bulk buys I cautioned you to not get sucked in by?
    What if you got creative? I have bought things in bulk after talking to friends and
    neighbors to see if they could use that item. It has worked for me on numerous occasions.
    For example, remember the EGGpocalypse, ya see what I did there, from a few months
    ago? Eggs were at almost $8 per dozen in some places which is utterly ridiculous. It just so
    happens that I love eggs so I reached out to friends and neighbors and we split the egg flat
    from Costco. That was smart shopping and saved us all a ton of money. By considering
    alternative resources, you may be able to achieve the same results for a fraction of the
    cost.
  5. Do not go to the store hungry! This might be one of the most important tips. You could
    throw away all of your planning by going to the store hungry. Just like you plan your trips
    to the store, plan to eat before. You can be guaranteed to go out of budget and will
    definitely eat something void of nutrition as well. Don’t end up like the hangry bear!

Remember Planning is Key when stretching resource dollars while reducing food waste
and being good to our planet and by following these tips, you can achieve more with less
and reach your goals without overspending. Remember, it’s not about how much you
spend, but how effectively you use the resources you have available.

Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in
Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through
nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy eating on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or your health. I learned at an
early age a very unappetizing version of healthy eating. I shiver at the thought of those
boiled, unseasoned chicken legs and mushy vegetables. As a result, I have enjoyed
developing healthy ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Here are some of my everyday tips:

  • Planning is key. My budget gets blown whenever I go to a store hungry or without a
    list.
    • Planning reduces waste!
  • Do your research. Most foods have increased in price by at least 25% over the last
    year. I have the mobile applications for all my local grocery stores and plan my
    weekly meals from the proteins on sale. Do not shy away from the stores that are
    typically more expensive overall than others. It has been my experience that
    Vons/Pavilions has some of the best sales on animal protein. The trick is to stay
    within the items on sale. Get the protein and get out.
  • Make a list
    • Do NOT go to the store hungry.
    • Stick to the list!
  • Planning multiple trips to get all the necessary items can be wise if you plan your
    shopping accordingly. I go to the furthest store and backtrack to the others,
    landing at the last closest to my home. Conversely, don’t make a long trip to save
    .05 cents per pound. Do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • AGAIN, don’t shop hungry!!

Here is a budget saver I haven’t discussed before. You can save money by growing some of
your vegetables. I know what some of you think: “I have a brown thumb.”I trust you can
do this! If my brown thumb can grow herbs and lettuce from my windowsill, you can
cultivate and produce some, too. It takes a little willingness and desire to save while
getting the satisfaction of growing your food. Not to mention, it tastes better. Start with
just a few vegetables to start so you can handle it. Pick things you know you will eat. If you
don’t like tomatoes, why plant any? If you do like tomatoes, be ready for a surplus. When
this happens, you can use the excess to make tomato sauce or salsa. You can even share
with friends and neighbors like those from the buy-nothing group that gifted you supplies
to get started. Do your best to reduce waste by utilizing or giving if need be.
It can take some seed money. See what I did there? But it doesn’t have to if you plan smart.
Most communities have ‘buy nothing” groups on social media platforms. Use these
platforms to ask for containers with draining holes, pots, and window boxes. You’ll be
surprised how willing people are to help. Here are some excellent tips from Azure Farm Life:

https://www.azurefarmlife.com/farm-blog/the-best-vegetable-to-grow-indoors#:~:text=Baby%20greens%20like%20lettuce%2C%20arugula,inches%20deep%20will%20work%20well.

Remember, Planning is Key when sticking to a budget you can afford while reducing food
waste and being good to our planet.

Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach, with a concentration in
Nutrition and Nutritional Science, is passionate about showing others the path to wellness
through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Events

FOOD FINDERS TACKLES FOOD INSECURITY AND FOOD WASTE WITH ITS 2nd ANNUAL FARM TO TABLEAUX FUNDRAISER

Long Beach, CA – <9/12/23> – In its continued effort to combat food insecurity and food waste, Food Finders is hosting its 2nd annual Farm to Tableaux fundraiser. Currently, 1 in 4 people in Los Angeles County suffer from food insecurity, and despite the need, 38% of all food produced in the US goes uneaten or unsold.

“Food is a basic human right, yet far too many individuals and families suffer from chronic hunger and do not know where their next meal is coming from,” said Diana Lara, the Executive Director of Food Finders. “With millions of pounds of food discarded every year, we’re committed to rescuing that food and bringing it to people in need.”

The event will be a celebration of the art and culture of Frida Kahlo. Guests will enjoy a taste of Mexican cuisine and Mexican-inspired performances from local entertainers and artists. All proceeds will support Food Finders’ main food rescue program.

Last year’s event raised $168,000, which provided 1,848,000 meals to the communities Food Finders served. In 2022, Food Finders rescued 13,507,207 pounds of food, providing meals to 3,750,000 individuals!

“Wasted food still requires resources such as cropland, water, time, and energy. When this food ends up in a landfill, it emits greenhouse gases that are directly linked to climate change,” continued Lara. “Working together with our local partner agencies, volunteers, and supporters we will continue to make a tremendous impact on hunger, food waste, and the planet.”

THE DETAILS
When & Where: September 23rd , 2023, from 5-9 p.m. at The Betty Reckas Cultural Center in Long Beach.
Sponsors: Banc Of California, California Resources Corp, Servicon, Port of Long Beach, Laserfiche, Commercial Bank, Albertsons, Oak Ridge Winery, City National Bank, Smart & Final, Epson, F&M Bank, Grocery Outlet, the Los Angeles Lakers, AES, Marathon
How much: VIP tickets are $175, General Admission are $125, and there are only 350 seats available! http://foodfinders.org/event/farm-to-tableaux-fun-fabulous-frida

To purchase tickets for the event, visit https://foodfindersinc.ejoinme.org/tickets. For information on available sponsorships packages, please visit https://foodfindersinc.ejoinme.org/sponsorships.

About Food Finders
Food Finders’ mission is to eliminate hunger and food waste while improving nutrition in food-
insecure communities. Food Finders links surplus food from local businesses to non-profit partners
providing food-insecure households and individuals with a meal or food pantry service. Their
operation spans a four-county area that includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside.

Media Contacts: Diana Lara, dlara@foodfinders.org,562-283-1400×101

READ MORE
Climate

Food Waste and Repurposing

The relationship between Food Finders, the city of Long Beach, and Long Beach City
College, which aims to get nutrition education to the students at LBCC who use the
pantry, is one aspect of my purpose here at Food Finders.

The need to educate others on Food Waste and repurposing is an ongoing need that is
worth revisiting. I am passionate about this topic and will continue to do whatever it takes.
In a country as rich as the United States, children, no one, should be living with food
insecurity. I will continue to utilize the platform Food Finders has provided and any
opportunities that arise so that nobody is wondering where their next meal is coming
from.

I realized that my knack for meal planning and shopping on a limited budget was
something I understood and was a big part of helping people reduce food waste. How can I
combine these two skills and make a more significant impact?

My internship at Food Finders has given me a platform to educate others on food waste,
repurposing, and nutrition.

With my nutrition knowledge and the Partner Agencies of Food Finders, I can share my
knowledge and passion with people with food insecurity. I have done many nutrition talks
during my internship, and the process has been influential. I teach others what food waste
and repurposing are while teaching them healthy eating habits. My favorite part is seeing
how people light up when they learn something.

Food Waste is a Huge Problem

Here are some things you can do to reduce waste. Do you know what foods should or
shouldn’t be stored together? This infographic from the Daily Mail is a great resource.

Repurposing, Resources, and Education is the answer!

At Food Finders, our Partner Agency Coordinators work tirelessly to get delicious food
that would typically go to waste into the hands of those living with Food Insecurity.
Spreading awareness through education is the answer.

The education and resources provided explain how to store food properly and interpret the
various expiration dates we see on food, such as “use by,”” sell by,” etc.
The FoodKeepers application supported by the USDA is a great resource to help people
sort through the confusing world of labels and dates. It can help you interpret the varying
expiration date labels and explain the best storage methods for various foods to reduce
waste. Knowledge is power. Download this app and utilize it.
Plan, Plan, Plan!!

Meal planning is one of the most significant ways to prevent food waste.

Fridge temp 39 degrees Celsius. Who hasn’t gone to the store hungry? Going to the store
hungry is the #1 offender of a well-planned shopping trip.

When you plan your meals or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste. And don’t
forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet–a big plus! l. Planning your meals for
the week and creating your shopping list based on your meals can cut waste by 15% or
more.

Tip For Cutting Food Waste

  • Shop the grocery store’s weekly ads. With the cost of food up by 25% or
    more, I start my meal planning by finding proteins that are on sale that week.
  • I do NOT go to the store hungry. Going grocery shopping hungry
    guarantees, I will buy some overpriced and ultra-processed snacks that I
    promptly eat on the way home. Shopping hungry not only takes me out of
    budget but is unhealthy.
  • I stick to my list.
  • I prepare my fruits and veggies for the week. If I have salads planned, I
    pre-cut and wash my lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and cucumbers. I also
    wash and cut up any melons or fruit for the week. Doing this makes busy
    weeks easier and allows for a nutritious snack of fruit that is easy to grab.
  • Buy Local
  • Shop based on recipes.
  • Fridge temp 39 degrees Celsius

You can do even more with the knowledge of which foods have the most significant impact
on the environment. Look at the chart below, and you will see that beef is the biggest
offender. I am not saying stop eating beef, but what are you willing to do to help reduce
beef consumption?
How about Meatless Monday? Think sustainably and by eating less meat.

Nutrition Talks Program

In our Nutrition Talks Program with partner agencies, I do a basic overview of nutrition and
its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in what they are learning.
One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop, which starts with a scavenger hunt for
a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties up with a Q&A on the information
presented.

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City
College is one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food. It isn’t enough
that we are getting food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the
many nutrient-dense meals possible while reducing waste.

#StopFoodWasteWednesday #nutritiontalks #tipsforzerowaste #foodfindersinc #LBrecovers #healthyactivelongbeach #eatlessmeat #meatlessmondays

Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach, with a concentration in Nutrition and
Nutritional Science, is passionate about showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while
reducing hunger and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

August: Recap of Food Waste/Repurposing, Healthy Eating on a Budget & Stretching Resource Dollars

The Continuing Journey of a Nutrition Students Journey To Make An Impact

As I reflect on the last three months of nutrition Blogs, it pleases me to see all of the good
Food Finders does.

In 2022, Food Findersrescued 13,709,033 pounds of food, resulting in Food Finders providing
11,424,195 meals to people living with food insecurity.

What a beautiful example of how rescuing food that would typically go to waste and
repurposing it helps to feed so many people. Food that usually ends up in the trash and
eventually landfills contributes to climate change.
Whether food waste and repurposing, healthy eating on a budget, or stretching resource
dollars to nutrition education. The tools provided help those in need help themselves as
much as possible when struggling with food insecurity.

Food Waste Is A Huge Problem

Food Waste is a problem that isn’t going away, so we must stay vigilant by not losing sight of
the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture, you say? In addition to the many hungry
people who could eat that wasted food caused by poor planning and expiration date
confusion, the long-term effects on the environment are tragic.

Repurposing, Resources, and Education are the Answer!

If you have followed my blog posts, you might get tired of this topic, but I do not care.
I will do whatever it takes to increase awareness of this problem that has a solution.
Food Finders work hard to plan and implement food repurposing through their Partner
Agency Coordinator.
Additionally, Food Finders provides nutrition education and resources to educate the
recipients of this beautiful rescued food on healthy eating, proper storage, and clearing up
expiration date confusion.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

When considering healthy eating on a budget, you’re thinking dollar signs $$$. As a
full-time student and an intern at Food Finders, eating healthy is significant. I shop the sale
ads and plan meals based on what I already have in my pantry and refrigerator, saving time
and money.

However, there is a crucial part of eating healthy on a budget that saves you long-term
that many people do not consider. Many need to consider the long-term health implications
of poor eating habits. Our intricately designed bodies serve us well when we treat them
well. Eating well today can save you thousands, if not more, in medical bills later on. If you
do not treat your body well, you are setting the stage for obesity, type 2 diabetes,
hypertension, and heart disease.

Plan. Eat Well. Live Well.

Stretching Resource Dollars

What are resource dollars?

Your resource dollars can be the cold, hard cash you work so hard for, or it can also be
CalFresh, known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This
July Edition is all about making both work harder for your household.

What is important is how to utilize your resources to get maximum benefit. It’s not that hard if you
employ what I have shared in the last few months. It all ties together. You can stretch your
resource dollars if you use the information you have learned from food waste, repurposing, and
healthy eating on a budget.

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City College is
one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food. It isn’t enough that we are getting
food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals
that reduce waste.

#StopFoodWasteDay #NutritionTalks #TipForZeroWaste #FoodFindersInc #LBrecovers #HealthyActiveLongBeach

Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach, with a concentration in Nutrition and
Nutritional Science, is passionate about showing others the
path to wellness through nutrition while
reducing hunger and food waste. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220

READ MORE
Food Waste

Stretching Resource Dollars

The budget constraints of a full-time college student can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be.
As a full-time student who works and keeps a household afloat, every penny matters! Food
costs are on the rise and that makes it more important than ever to shop smart. That is where I
began to understand the importance of “Resource Dollars.”


What are resource dollars you ask?


Your resource dollars can be the cold hard cash you work so hard for or it can also be CalFresh,
known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Making both work
harder for your household is what this July Edition is all about.
https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh#:~:text=CalFresh%2C%20known%20federally%
20as%20the,an%20essential%20hunger%20safety%20net..


How to stretch your resource dollars.
★ Tip #1 Non-Food Savings
Before I get into what you can do to be a smarter shopper with food, have you considered non-food ways to save? When I started school I knew my budget was going to be tight. So, I went
over my monthly bills and took a really careful look at where my money was going. The first thing I
did was cancel the cable. I was single, living on my own, and between work and school when I
was home I didn’t have time to surf through 400 plus channels finding nothing to watch because
I was either studying or sleeping.
Next, I looked at what I was spending on non-essentials and I realized that I tend to spend a lot
of money at the nail salon. Did I like having gel manicures and pedicures? YES, in fact, I loved it
but it was not a necessity. So, even though I stopped going to the salon, I learned how to
manicure my own nails, and this is a win/win. Believe it or not, the savings on the cable bill and
nail salon were almost $300.


★ Tip #2 Meal Planning is Key
You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it again and again: Planning is key! Failing to plan
is planning to fail. One of the things I do is keep a running grocery list. I use the notepad on my
phone. This comes in clutch, especially with the basics that I always have on hand such as:
cooking oil, rice, eggs, and spices. By planning meals ahead of time I can use food ingredients
that are on sale that week!


★ Tip #3 Don’t Get Sucked into the Bulk Buys.
There are plenty of instances where buying in bulk will save you. However, buying in bulk is not
guaranteed savings. Look at the cost per ounce, pound, and other measurements. For
example, an organic bunch of green onions that are typically 8-10 onions is around $1.50/ea. vs
non-organic for .99/ea. But it contains only 4-5 onions. By purchasing the organic you are
getting double the onions for a lot less.


★ Tip #4 Shop Weekly Ads
As I mentioned before, the weekly ads from my local grocers are where I start. I find two or three
proteins on sale and then I begin to plan my meals with these additional savings in mind.


★ Tip #5 Clip Coupons
I have mobile apps for all of the grocery stores I frequent. I search the weekly ads for digital
coupons for items that I need. I know it might be hard to refrain but only use the coupons for
items on your list. Most things outside of this will take you out of budget. As with all things, there
are always exceptions to the rule. If I see eggs, cheese, and other nutrient-rich foods that require
a coupon I will do my best to include it in my shopping budget for the week. Remember animal
proteins and cheese will freeze well.


★ Tip #6 Check Expiration Dates
Just because it is on sale doesn’t mean stock up. Look at the expiration date and shop
accordingly. Oftentimes food goes on sale because an expiration date is nearing or they could
simply have too much stock.
Utilize the Food Keepers App which is a product of the USDA:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.usda.fsis.foodkeeper2&hl=en


★ Tip #7 Buy Generic
Be careful where your loyalty lies with name-brand products. There are plenty of quality generic
items you could be saving big dollars on. For this example, I will talk about marinara sauce. If
you pay attention you’ll notice all of the name-brand sauces are at eye level, and generic or
store-brand sauces are on the bottom shelf. I challenge you to take a jar of marinara sauce such
as Rao and compare it to a store-brand marinara sauce.
You’ll be surprised to see the similarity in the ingredients. Rao is a well-known marinara sauce
popular among low-carb eaters as the way to go. For ½ cup of sauce from Rao, you have 90
calories with 4g of carbs. For the Great Value brand, you get ½ cup for 60 calories and 7g of
carbs. Not a significant difference in the macronutrient content but the price savings are
incredible. 24 oz of Rao marinara sauce at WalMart is $7.72 per jar vs Wal-Marts Great Value
brand which is $1.48 for a 23oz sized jar.


★ Tip #8 Do not Go to the Store Hungry
This might be one of the most important tips. You could throw away all of your planning by going
to the store hungry. Just like you plan your trips to the store, plan to eat before.
You can be guaranteed to go out of budget and will definitely eat something void of nutrition as
well. Don’t end up like the hangry bear!

Remember Planning is Key when stretching resource dollars while reducing food waste and
being good to our planet.


Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in
Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through
nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Food Waste

Healthy Eating on a Budget

As a full-time nutrition student on a tight budget, I have found the best options for a SoCal native to eat for wellness on a budget.  I shop at Walmart, Costco, Aldi, Vons, Smart & Final, Food 4 Less, and Trader Joes.

Here are some tips:

  • Planning is key. If I go to a store hungry or without a list or both my budget is blown every single time.
    • Planning reduces waste!
  • Do your research.  Most foods have increased in price at least 25% over the last year.  I have the mobile applications for all of my local grocery stores and I plan my meals for the week from the proteins that are on sale. Do not shy away from the stores that are typically more expensive overall than others. It has been my experience that Vons/Pavilions has some of the best sales on animal protein. The trick is to not stray from the items on sale. Get the protein and get out. 
  • Make a list
    • Do NOT go to the store hungry.
    • Stick to the list!
  • It can be smart planning to make multiple trips to get all the items you need if you plan your shopping accordingly.  I go to the furthest store out and backtrack to the others landing at the last which is closest to my home.  Conversely, don’t make a long trip to save .05 cents per pound. Do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • Proteins:
    • Pork: there are always cuts on sale between $.99 and $1.50/lb. This can be made into stews, meat for tacos, egg scrambles, and burritos or burrito bowls
    • Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breast is $2.99/lb at Walmart regularly and Aldi for $2.69/lb regularly.  Pound out some chicken breast, season, sear, and finish in the oven for on-the-go chicken breast to top a salad with, make tacos, unbreaded orange chicken, or just by itself with a side of rice and vegetables.
    • Beef: What can I say about beef other than this protein is up in price almost 50% so keep your eyes peeled for what fits your budget.  Personally, I draw the line at $3.99/lb for my protein purchases. You will find various cuts on sale meeting this priceline you just have to look for them.
    • Seafood: Crazy expensive and I keep my eyes on the sales but even the sales are out of my range most weeks.
    • Turkey: I find ground turkey at Smart & Final regularly for $2.99/lb. It is so versatile and will absorb any flavor profile you want to create regularly.
    • Various Sausages: Aldi is my go-to when nothing is on sale. They almost always have bratwurst or knackwurst on sale for a quick weekday meal of sausage and peppers over rice.
  • Vegetables: Fresh is great but if you do not plan to use them within 3-4 days you are increasing your chances of food waste and that is bad for the budget and the environment. Bell peppers and onions tend to last longer when fresh. To avoid waste and to save money I buy a lot of my vegetables in the frozen section. They are just as nutritious as fresh without the waste. Frozen veggie food hack: don’t waste your money on the frozen veggies that come in ready steam bags, buy the non-steam frozen options and put your desired serving in a zip lock baggie, leaving it slightly open to vent, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Put a little bit of butter and season to taste. I love Tajin on my steamed veggies for a citrusy kick.
  • Fruit: Fruit is best fresh. Frozen can be used in making sauces or smoothies. You can freeze your fresh fruit before it goes bad for future use in smoothies. Here’s a link to Betty Crocker for freezing tips: https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/seasonal-ideas/how-to-freeze-fresh-fruit
  • Starches :
    • White or sweet potatoes are generally affordable and can stretch a meal to feed your hungry family.  A time saver is to clean and boil or bake whole potatoes and refrigerate. It makes it easy to cut up and pan fry to go with some eggs or make  a one pan skillet dish with any ground protein. Check out this recipe from soulfully Made https://www.soulfullymade.com/easy-ground-beef-and-potatoes-skillet/
    • Rice and noodles are generally very affordable and can be bought in bulk and stored for a long time. 

Remember planning is key when sticking to a budget that you can afford while reducing food waste and being good to our planet.
Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Climate

A Nutrition Student’s Journey To Make An Impact

As a full-time Dietetics and Food Administration, Nutrition and Nutritional Science Option, BS student at California State University, Long Beach, and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are an important part of my life.  I learned in my junior year of school at California State, Long Beach how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them children, and my heart broke. I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I was passionate about.

 I quickly became vested in learning how I could not only educate people on the benefits of healthy eating but also reducing food waste, repurposing food, and getting food to those in need. 

I realized that my knack for meal planning and shopping on a limited budget was something that I understand and was a big part of helping people to reduce food waste. The question for me was how could I combine these two skills and make a bigger impact. 

Food Waste is a Problem

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States with the vast majority of waste occurring in the home. Poor planning and expiration dates on the food we purchase are large contributors.  Many would rather toss food they aren’t sure about, which affects the environment’s equity, than risk getting a foodborne illness.  

Repurposing, Resources, and Education is the answer!

We work hard to plan and implement food repurposing through the Partner Agency Coordinators. 

Additionally, we are working hard to provide education and resources that explain not only how to properly store food but how to interpret the various expiration dates we see on food such as “use by”, ‘sell by”, etc. 

The FoodKeepers application supported by the USDA is a great resource to help people sort through the confusing world of labels and dates.  It can help you not only interpret the varying expiration date labels, but also can explain the best storage methods for various foods to reduce waste. 

Meal Planning

Meal planning is one of the biggest ways that all of us can stop food waste. Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store hungry and bought more than they needed?

When you plan your meals or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste.  And don’t forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet—a big plus! By planning your meals for the week and then creating your shopping list based on your meals can cut waste by 15% or more.  

Here’s a recipe that will guide you to the deliciousness of potato peel chips.  Not only are they delicious but you are reducing food waste by repurposing your peels into a crunchy snack or appetizer that has a ton more potassium and magnesium than the flesh of the potato as well as 12 times the antioxidants, so eat up.

https://www.thekitchn.com/heres-why-you-should-never-throw-out-potato-peelings-tips-from-the-kitchn-212565

Tip For Cutting Food Waste

  • Shop the grocery store’s weekly ads. With the cost of food up by 25% or more, finding proteins that are on sale that week is where I start my meal planning.
  • I do NOT go to the store hungry. Going grocery shopping hungry guarantees I will buy some overpriced and over-processed snack that I promptly eat on the way home.  This not only takes me out of budget but is unhealthy.  
  • I stick to my list.
  • I prepare my fruits and veggies for the week.  If I have salads planned I pre-cut and wash my lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and cucumbers. I also wash and cut up any melons or fruit for the week as well.  Doing this makes busy weeks easier and allows for a nutritious snack of fruit that is easy to grab.

Nutrition Talks Program

This is all information I use when in our Nutrition Talks Program with our partner agencies.  I do a basic overview of nutrition and its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in what they are learning. One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop which starts with a scavenger hunt looking for a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties up with a Q & A on what was learned.  This month I will be visiting Long Beach City College for an interactive demonstration on how to repurpose fruits and vegetables. 

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City College is just one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food.  It isn’t enough that we are getting food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals that can be created while reducing waste.   

#StopFoodWasteWednesday #nutritiontalks #tipsforzerowaste #foodfindersinc #LBrecovers #healthyactivelongbeach

Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-alarcon-194313220/

READ MORE
Climate

White Bean Soup

#MeatlessMonday

Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

If you ever thought that beans are boring, this creamy flavor-packed white bean soup will blow your mind! This is a simple, vegan and budget-friendly recipe that tastes and smells amazing. Added bonus? It will be on the table in 25 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (28oz – 800 grams) cannellini beans or white beans, drained 
  • 1 medium-size onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, diced or pressed
  • 1 cup (7 oz – 200 grams), frozen spinach * (optional)
  • 2 medium-size potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) white wine
  • 1 sprig rosemary (or 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh leaves/1/2 tsp of dried)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth or hot water
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, beans, tomato paste, potatoes, rosemary (whole sprig, chopped, or dried, whatever it’s easier for you) and paprika (if you use it). Cook stirring frequently, about 1 minute. 
  3. Add the wine, stir well and let it simmer until it has evaporated, cooking for another minute.
  4. Then add the frozen spinach, the vegetable broth and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat and cook gently for 15 minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are soft and the soup is thick and creamy, remove the pot from heat, then remove the sprig rosemary*. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (I usually add a pinch of salt at the beginning + 1/2 tsp later. You might need more salt, depending on your vegetable broth and on your personal preferences.)*
  6. Divide into bowls, drizzle with olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, and more freshly ground black pepper if you like. Serve with crusty whole grain bread and, if you don’t keep it vegan, add freshly grated parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Enjoy!

Notes

Seasoning: If you use a broth that tastes quite salty on its own, it’s important to adjust the seasoning at the end and not at the beginning as you never really know how strong the salt from the broth is. I would start only with a good pinch of salt, no more than that.

Leftover: it keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. t’s also freezable: divide among airtight containers (leaving 1-inch space at the top), and freeze up to 2 months.

Rosemary: I’ve got a massive bush of rosemary in my garden, and I always use a fresh sprig. If you use a fresh rosemary sprig, keep in mind it will lose its leaves into the soup. They don’t bother me, but you might want to take them off before serving, or to chop them before cooking.

Vegetables: I usually go for frozen spinach, it really comes in handy. If you prefer, you could swap the spinach for greens such as chopped kale or chard. However, if you use fresh spinach, add them to the pot in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Chard or kale might take a bit longer, between 5 and 10 minutes.

Frozen spinach: the weight is from frozen, but you can swap frozen spinach for a 10-oz bag of fresh spinach if you prefer.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 350kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 57g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 160mg
  • Potassium: 1593mg
  • Fiber: 13g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Vitamin A: 14400IU
  • Vitamin C: 18mg
  • Calcium: 238mg
  • Iron: 9mg

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

Katia. (2021, April 6). The best white bean soup. The clever meal. Retrieved February 28, 2023.

#meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Climate

Pasta with Spinach

#MeatlessMonday

Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

This simple pasta with spinach is fast, easy and delicious. It’s ready in less than 15 minutes and makes a weeknight meal the whole family will love: creamy, packed with spinach, and convenient. Recipe yields 4 medium-sized servings.

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 8oz (225 grams) pasta (penne, rigatoni, spaghetti…)

Spinach Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely sliced or minced
  • 9oz (250 grams) baby spinach, washed
  • ¼ tsp fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 5oz (140 grams) cream cheese
  • 1oz (30 grams) freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, or ⅓ of freshly grated nutmeg, or according to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cook your pasta until al dente following the package directions. Before draining, reserve at least 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and cook for about 1 or 2 minutes until fragrant (make sure you don’t burn it).
  4. Add part of the spinach and season with salt. Stir until wilted adding handful of spinach at a time.
  5. When the spinach are wilted but still bright green, stir in cream cheese and 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water (don’t add all the reserved water straight away, but save the rest in case you need to loosen the sauce when you add pasta to the skillet).
  6. Then add grated parmesan cheese and nutmet to the sauce and give a good stir. The sauce will be ready in a couple of minutes.
  7. Drain pasta, add to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve immediately ¼with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Notes

SEASONING: I find that 1/4 tsp of salt is fine for the sauce. Both cooking pasta water and parmesan cheese contain salt, so you’re not supposed to add any salt to the spinach sauce. However, before adding pasta, taste and make sure you’re happy with the seasoning.

LEFTOVERS: it keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge, stored in an air-tight container. Add a tiny splash of water to loosen up the sauce if needed and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.

NOTE: nutritional values are estimates only.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 544kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 62g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Fat: 25g
  • Saturated Fat: 12g
  • Cholesterol: 60mg
  • Sodium: 567mg
  • Potassium: 709mg
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Vitamin A: 8527IU
  • Vitamin C: 24mg
  • Calcium: 259mg
  • Iron: 4mg

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

Katia. (2021, March 28). Pasta with spinach, Easy & Quick! The clever meal. Retrieved February 28, 2023.

#meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Climate

Pizza with Peppers (No-Knead Recipes)

#MeatlessMonday

Why Meatless Monday?

  • Meatless Monday is of utmost importance, especially in the United States, as we consume much more animal products than the rest of the world.
  • The meat industry uses vast amounts of our finite fossil fuels and water and lots of grain to feed livestock, which is extremely inefficient. Why not use those resources to feed people more directly?
  • About 1,850 gallons of water is needed to produce a singular pound of beef, comparable to only 39 gallons of water per pound of vegetables. A vegetarian diet alone could dramatically reduce water consumption by 58% per person!
  • Meat production also is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which has proven to correlate to the climate change crisis. 
  • Some benefits of eating plant-based once a week include:
    • Save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal!
    • Reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds each Meatless Monday you participate in
    • If you commit to participating in Meatless Monday every Monday, that is equivalent to skipping one serving of beef for a year, would save the same amount of emissions as driving 348 miles in a car.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Proofing and Stretching: 1 hour 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This scrumptious pizza with peppers is a real treat for any pizza lover! It’s crusty, full of flavor, and packed with juicy peppers, soft mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. This is truly a terrific vegetarian pizza that smells and tastes amazing.

Added bonus? It uses a great pizza dough, super EASY to make in 1 bowl: all you have to do is mix the ingredients with a spoon, no mess and no kneading are required. We love peppers because they pack so much flavor, they keep well in the fridge, they’re healthy and so versatile. Cook them slowly in olive oil to bring out that delicious sweet flavor. Take your time here, it’s worth it.

Serve this amazing pizza with bell peppers with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and plenty of fresh basil leaves. And have a great pizza night!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough

  • 1 ½ cup + 2 Tbsp (210 grams) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • ½ tsp instant yeast (or Active yeast, see notes)
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • ¾ Tbsp olive oil

Topping

  • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium-sized bell peppers, deseeded and cut into slices (green peppers or frozen mixed peppers are fine too)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 5 oz (140 grams) fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • Fresh basil leaves, to garnish

Cooking Instructions

Pizza Dough

  1. In a large bowl mix flour, instant yeast, and salt until combined.
  2. Add water, olive oil, and stir with a spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients into the liquid. The dough is sticky, it doesn’t look smooth, and a few lumps are totally fine.
  3. LET THE DOUGH PROOF: cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, place in a warm place, and let it rest for 1 hour, or just until the dough doubles in sized.
  4. When the dough is ready and fluffy, preheat the oven to 440°F/230°C, and cut a large piece of parchment paper (if you use a pizza stone) or use the parchment paper to line a large baking pan.
  5. SHAPE THE DOUGH: scrape the edges of the bowl with a spatula and pour the dough onto the parchment paper, dust with some flour and starting from the center gently press it out with your fingers until you get approx a 9×13 inch pizza. Let it rest for 10 minutes if time allows..
  6. TOPPING: top with shredded mozzarella, peppers, and season with fine salt and cracked black pepper.
  7. BAKE: bake in the lower shelf of the oven for 15 minutes or until nice and crusty.
  8. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil leaves.

Peppers

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan, then add the sliced peppers, season with fine salt and cracked black pepper, cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes. Stir frequently, and add a touch of water only if needed.
  2. When the peppers are done, add the garlic, give a good toss, and cook for another minute.
  3. Taste, adjust the seasoning according to your liking, and set aside.

Notes

YEAST: you can use Active dry yeast instead of instant yeast in this recipe, however, keep in mind Active yeast needs to be activated in water and let it sit until slightly foamy (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).

LUKEWARM WATER:  the water should be mildly warm, not too cold not too hot .

MEASUREMENTS: I use both US cups and grams. The cups of flour are levelled: fill the measuring cup all the way to the top letting the flour flow over a little. Then, use the back of a knife to level the top off.

WATER ABSORPTION: water absorption is the amount of water taken up by flour and may vary significantly depending on the type of flour, brand, and weather conditions. When you add water to the flour, start with the amount stated in the recipe. If the liquid is not enough to achieve the dough consistency, just add gradually a little extra water (1 or 2 Tbsp) until the flour has been incorporated.

HOW LONG DOES WITH PEPPERS LAST?Once pizza is cold, place it in a large freezer bag and refrigerate for up to 2 days in the fridge. Alternately, wrap your pizza in cling film or place it in a freezer bag, make sure you squeeze the air out and freeze it up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature. Toast your leftover pizza in the oven, enjoy.

Nutrition facts: please note that the nutrition values are based on an online nutrition calculator.  It’s an estimate only and it should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. The nutrition values are for one small serving (about  6 x 4 inches each), the final drizzle of olive oil is not included.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 257kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 17mg
  • Sodium: 527mg
  • Potassium: 220mg
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Vitamin A: 2630IU
  • Vitamin C: 101mg
  • Calcium: 121mg
  • Iron: 2mg

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #meatlessmondays, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

Katia. (2021, June 29). Pizza with peppers (no-knead recipe). The clever meal. Retrieved February 28, 2023.

#meatlessmonday #foodfindersinc  #FoodRescue #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
looking back to look ahead blogClimate

Looking Back to Look Ahead: An Overview of 2022

Overview

With 2023 well underway, it is important to take some time to reflect on last year in order to plan for this one. Taking a moment to reflect is key to setting up goals that align with your values, are efficient, effective, and achievable, and push you out of your comfort zone. 

In this article, I will:

  • discuss Food Finders’ impact in 2022,
  • reflect on the implementation of SB 1383, and 
  • provide three key ideas that Food Finders must keep in mind for the new year.

Food Finders: Statistics in 2022

In 2022, Food Finders continued its mission of reducing food waste by reallocating edible surplus to those who are food insecure throughout Southern California. The organization rescued 13,386,801 pounds of food and provided 11,155,668 meals. Through their rescues, Food Finders diverted 7,269,033 million pounds of C02 emissions and saved 6,104,381,256 gallons of water. Food Finders’ mission is to simultaneously reduce food waste and food insecurity through strategic surplus diversion and reallocation. These environmentally conscious goals mitigate the effects of climate change and provide much needed food. Finding methods that solve multiple problems at once is the kind of thinking that guides us closer to a sustainable future.

Greenhouse gas emissions such as methane is released from landfills in huge quantities that pose a threat to human health, NPR.

SB 1383: California’s Law to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On September 19, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 into law which established a statewide initiative to reduce emissions produced by short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). The targets aim to reduce edible food and organic waste disposal by 75% by 2025, and to rescue at least 20% of disposed edible food to be allocated for human consumption by 2025. The law actually expands upon AB 341 (Mandatory Commercial Recycling) and AB 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics) which focused on commercial waste diversion and recycling. SB 1383, on the other hand, applies similar guidelines to residents and property managers and owners. Under the bill—which went into effect on January 1, 2022—jurisdictions are required to provide “organic waste collection services to all single-family and multifamily residences.”

The efforts to reduce food waste reflect the increasing threat greenhouse gases pose for Californians, especially to those with health conditions. In California, organic waste left in landfills release 20% of all methane, a gas that is a “climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” According to the EPA, reducing the presence of food and organic waste in landfills in the United States helps reduce climate change since more than 15% of methane emissions caused by humans come from municipal solid waste landfills. In 2019, those landfills emitted almost 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane. California’s dumps in landfills are 50% food scraps, yard trimmings, and cardboard which reflects the need for more conscious efforts when throwing away trash. 

California has specific targets that need to be met in order to reach the goals set by SB 1383, Waste Dive.

SB 1383: Changes, Progress, and What’s Next

According to Waste Dive, California estimates that it will need to prevent 27 million tons of organic waste from ending up in landfills annually by 2025. Unfortunately, 18 million tons of the waste is not “eligible for edible food recovery.” One challenge that companies are facing with implementation lies in the composting infrastructure and equipment to meet the requirements. Some owners have resorted to either selling their businesses to larger competitors or finding new investors.

One major effect that has threatened the timeline is the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of the pandemic impacted the 2020 goals and now California is under pressure to “make up for lost time.” On September 8, 2022, the Hearing on Organic Waste Recycling was held during which Shereen D’Souza, CalEPA’s deputy secretary for climate policy and intergovernmental relations, stated that “it makes sense that the 2020 diversion rates required in 1383 were not met” since the regulations of SB 1383 only became enforceable in 2022. Despite these setbacks, D’Souza concluded that “local jurisdictions are making a lot of progress” since January of last year.

Although the law was passed in 2016, SB 1383 regulations were only enforced in 2022, CalCities.

The most notable changes have been the arrival of waste bins for residents to use. CalRecycle believes that most jurisdictions have adopted the “standard” model or the three-bin system which might be the case since the law’s regulations make “three carts the smoothest path to compliance.” Overall, it is still too early to determine the total effects of SB 1383’s implementation. The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, is currently conducting a study that will “assess how California’s organics recycling law is implemented, examine what impact it has on the state’s environmental goals, and provide recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for any changes.” 

Three Key Areas for Food Finders

As Food Finders’ Community Outreach and Advocacy Intern, I have been tasked with reaching out to different organizations in the industry to understand what their goals are and how they became involved in policy and advocacy work. Over the past few months, I have met with several local and out-of-state organizations who are focused on ending food insecurity, food waste, or like Food Finders, work at the intersection of both issues. Each organization has provided me with insight that exposes their core values which inform their goals and plans regarding policy advocacy. From these meetings, I have compiled three major takeaways that should guide Food Finders in its development of a policy and advocacy agenda that creates lasting systemic change.

Grounding the policy work in the community 

In every single meeting I have had so far, the importance of community has been at the forefront of the conversation. The idea that policy should address the needs of a community cannot be more obvious, and yet, it is often inexplicably neglected. The community should always be involved in decision-making that affects their lives because they carry knowledge that is crucial to their own betterment and longevity. When the policy doesn’t represent the people or align with the community values and concerns, even the kindest intentions are rendered useless without consent and accordance on multiple levels.

One way to create a space for this kind of dialogue is through the inception of a community-led policy council. Oregon Food Bank, an Oregon-based organization that aims to address the root causes of hunger in order to eradicate it, created its Policy Leadership Council in 2021. The Council is composed of community members who are BIPOC, LGBT, have experienced food insecurity and “some sort of oppression” in their lives. Simply put, the Council is made of community members and the community informs the direction of their advocacy. Without input from the Council, the Board would not know how best to address the issues that impact their community. 

Taking the pulse of the community

Taking the pulse of the community regarding food insecurity and food waste is crucial before taking the next step towards policy advocacy. Since Food Finders focuses on finding food (as well as distributing, reallocating, and reducing waste), understanding how the community views the issues of food insecurity, waste, and its impact on the environment is important. Simply asking the questions of What do they know? and What do they want to know? can open up a dialogue and clear the pathway toward aligning food waste and insecurity policies with the values of the community. 

Recognizing the social issues that impact food insecurity

My third and final takeaway encompasses not just food insecurity, but what causes food insecurity. A lack of food does not equal food insecurity which is why more food (read: food waste and overproduction) is not the solution to this persistent problem. Other social circumstances that affect food insecurity are poverty or low income, lack of affordable housing, lack of access to healthcare, and systemic racism and racial discrimination. Thus, addressing the root causes of food insecurity has to be a priority in order to do more than place a band-aid on an already infected wound. Addressing issues such as homelessness, low wages, and affordable housing is what can eliminate food insecurity once and for all.

Homelessness and food insecurity

In 2022, California contributed to 30% of the country’s homeless population even though the state makes up less than 12% of the country’s total population. According to CalMatters, California’s homeless population grew by 22,000 during the pandemic. Although the state’s investment in shelters is “bearing fruit,” there still isn’t enough “permanent, affordable housing to bring people indoors for good.” On February 24, 2022, the “Homeless Count” in Long Beach determined that 1,801 people were living on the streets or other locations, 485 people were found living in cars, vans, and RVs, and 1,009 people were living in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs. Since 2020, there has been a 123% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in Long Beach. As we know, newly-elected Mayor Rex Richardson (who recently visited my college campus), undoubtedly has made it clear that homelessness, an issue that affects everyone and spans across the state of California, is a major priority for his administration. During his State of the City on January 10, 2023, Mayor Richardson listed homelessness and stable housing as the first key area to address in his first 100 days. 

On February 24, 2022, 69% of the total homeless population were unsheltered in Long Beach, City of Long Beach.

Another area the pandemic affected was food insecurity. The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity across the nation with the USDA reporting that 13.5 million US households were food insecure in 2021. According to the California Association of Food Banks, 8 million California residents struggle with food insecurity and in Los Angeles County, 30% of low-income residents don’t know where their next meal will come from. Homelessness and hunger are very much linked to one another since individuals experiencing homelessness are often food insecure.

Edible Food Waste: The Solution to Feeding Long Beach’s Homeless Population?

Mayor Richardson’s decision to tackle homelessness in Long Beach is commendable and shows a dedication to all the residents of the city, even the ones who are often invisible. This hefty endeavor will require cooperation and collaboration between different levels of government, various sectors and industries, and the local community. According to Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), accelerated production of affordable housing, reforms to the criminal justice system, and vast improvements in mental health care are crucial to address California’s homeless problem. Although hunger wasn’t explicitly identified, caring for unhoused residents includes addressing their most basic needs. 

Food waste is an issue that often flies under the radar. Consumers rarely stop and wonder what happens to those packed shelves and towering fruit displays when the store closes. In reality, 30% of the food in American grocery stores is thrown away while a significant amount of food doesn’t even make it to shelves due to cosmetic “imperfections.” Food Finders already works hard to intercept food destined for the landfills so that perfectly edible food can be enjoyed by those who need it throughout Southern California. The bottom line is that there is enough food out there. SB 1383 requires that at least 20% of edible food is recovered for human consumption by 2025, which will result in a “boom” in rescued food. It might be worth noting for Mayor Richardson’s administration that when they are searching for a way to feed the city’s unhoused residents, the food might already be there.

What Can You Do To Help?

Food Finders works daily to change how edible food waste is distributed to eliminate hunger and food insecurity. If you would like more information, please visit our website, volunteer, or support our mission to eliminate hunger and food waste by making a donation today.

#sb1383 #foodwaste #climatechange #foodinsecurity #homelessness #longbeach

Nickee O’Bryant is the Community Outreach and Advocacy Intern at Food Finders. She is a senior at California State University, Long Beach and is studying International Studies and French and Francophone Studies. Through monthly blog posts, Nickee documents her journey as she learns more about food insecurity, food waste, and how they are interconnected.

READ MORE
Community

Black Leaders in Food Justice

#BlackHistoryMonth

In celebration of Black History Month we are highlighting three black individuals who have had significant contributions in the way that we approach hunger and food justice, both historically and currently. Although communities of color have always had a critical role in shaping our American foodscape, their contributions have historically gone unrecognized. These three advocates offer a peak into these contributions, to engage and learn from not only this month, but at all times.

George Washington Carver is perhaps one of the most honored figures in the black American landscape for his food contributions, specifically the peanut. What many people don’t know about him is that he had a master’s degree in Scientific Agriculture. Born into slavery, he often skirted chores as a child to study plants and eventually found his passion in food and cooking. He obtained a college education as the first black student at Iowa State University, and after joining the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama as the director of agriculture, he made significant strides in helping farmers to efficiently grow crops, best utilize their harvest, and even published bulletins and recipes to distribute to farmers. He was one of the earliest proponents of sustainable agriculture and “conscious eating”. His research made a huge impact on soil fertility and waste reduction in addition to general farming practices.

Dr. Rashida Crutchfield is an associate professor at CSULB, where she initiated a study of student homelessness and hunger. What started as a local concern became a national study, and her passion to lend a voice to those who were displaced and food insecure helped initiate the Office of the Chancellor’s 3-phase study on basic needs, setting a precedent for making student food insecurity and homelessness among students a health priority. She’s since become a respected authority and advocate in this arena, and her findings and strategies to address these issues were published in 2019 as a book.

Ron Finley is a community contributor in downtown L.A., often referred to as the Guerrilla Gardener. Since 2010 he has been actively growing fresh produce for his local neighborhood using abandoned strips of land or parkways. These areas of South Central, often labeled as food deserts, have limited or nonexistent access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The “food prisons” as Finley calls them, impact the health of residents, each of whom deserves equal access to nutritious foods. To tackle this issue, he not only shares his harvest but teaches gardening and the importance of good food and provides a place for residents to gather and form tighter community bonds.


If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger, help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#BlackHistoryMonth #foodfindersinc  #foodrescue #reducehunger #foodrecovery #volunteer #charity #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #helpendhunger #endhunger #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE
Food Waste

Crumb-y Green Lasagna

#WhyWasteWednesday

#WhyWasteFood Wednesday is a call to action to take those almost-in-the-trash food items and turn them into delicious meals!

At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year around the world—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in our homes! If each individual made a call to action to stop their own food waste–the planet benefits, we have less hunger, and your own grocery bills will go down through the savings.

UN Food & Agriculture

Scraps: Soured Milk, Overripe Tomatoes,  Stale Bread, Wilted Greens

Crumb-y Green Lasagna

Fall bounty can get away from you and this recipe is a perfect chance to play catch-up. Preserve your fall garlic crop by confiting it and storing it in the fridge. Tired, blemished tomatoes can be trimmed to make a hearty sauce. Accumulate soft tomatoes in the freezer until you have enough to make a sauce. Wilted and neglected greens from spinach, chard, or kale can be sautéed into new life as a filling for this classic-style lasagna.

Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 12½ cups (3 L) soured milk, 3.25%
  • 1½ cups (350 ml) cream, 35%
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp (12 g) sea salt

Directions

  1. Heat the soured milk and cream in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, stirring often so it does not scorch on the bottom.
  2. Bring to 195°F (90°C) and stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  3. Remove from heat and stir for 2 minutes until curds form.
  4. Line a large strainer with a clean towel or a piece of cheesecloth that is 4 layers thick.
  5. Pour the mixture into the strainer and let sit for whey to drain for 1 hour.
  6. Reserve whey for future use.
  7. When the ricotta has drained, transfer to a small bowl and cover.
  8. Refrigerate for 2 hours. When cool, mix the ricotta with the eggs and sea salt. Ricotta can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Green Confit

Ingredients

  • 12 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1¼ cup (300 ml) grapeseed oil

Directions

  1. Submerge the garlic cloves in a small pot filled with grapeseed oil
  2. Bring to a low simmer and reduce heat to lowest possible level. Simmer until garlic is soft when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat and cool. Store the garlic in the oil and refrigerate immediately until ready to use. Use within a few days of preparing.

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs (900 g) tomatoes (can be spotty
  • and soft), bad spots removed, chopped
  • 1 tbsp (2½ g) fresh thyme leaves,
  • removed from stems
  • 1 tbsp (1½ g) rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp (12 g) sea salt
  • 1 tbsp (7 g) smoked paprika

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium low in a medium-sized saucepan, and add the onion and garlic.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the tomatoes, herbs, sea salt, and paprika.
  4. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.

Olive Oil Crumb

Ingredients

  • 2 slices stale bread
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Directions

  1. Remove crusts from the bread if they are very hard.
  2. Blitz bread in a food processor until crumbly.
  3. Pour into a bowl and dress with the olive oil and sea salt.
  4. Spread on a small sheet pan and toast in a 300°F (150°C) degree oven until dry.
  5. Stir every 2 to 3 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Lasagna Assembly

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (240 g) wilted greens such as kale,
  • chard, spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 4 cups (1 L) tomato sauce (on previous page)
  • 12 pieces cooked lasagna noodles
  • 2¾ cups (687 ml) ricotta (recipe above)
  • 12 cloves garlic from garlic confit
  • (on previous page)
  • 1 cup (225 g) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1½ cups (300 g) pecorino cheese, grated
  • Olive oil crumb (recipe above)

Directions

  1. Sauté the greens in the olive oil.
  2. In a 9×9-inch (22 cm x 22 cm) non-reactive pan, layer ⅓ of the tomato sauce on the base of the pan.
  3. Top with ⅓ of the lasagna noodles, covering with an even layer.
  4. Top with ½ of the ricotta mixture and 12 cloves of garlic, removed from the garlic confit.
  5. Layer another ⅓ of the lasagna noodles on top.
  6. Add another ⅓ of the tomato sauce and top with the final ⅓ of lasagna noodles.
  7. Top with the remaining ricotta and then sautéed greens.
  8. Finish with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle both cheeses and olive oil crumbs on top.
  9. Bake in a 375°F (190°C) oven for 45 minutes until hot throughout.
  10. Divide into 6 portions and serve with crusty bread or a green salad.

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #whywastewednesday, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#whywastewednesday  #foodfindersinc  #foodrescue #stopfoodwaste #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #climatechange #foodupcycling #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

The scrapsbook. IKEA. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2022.

READ MORE
Food Waste

Stopping Food Waste in Your Home

As a food rescue organization, Food Finders, Inc. is always searching for tools and tips to help make people aware of the high costs of wasting food. Today we discovered a wonderful article on building a “Sustainable Pantry.” Like most things at home, it’s about organizing things so that they are accessible and easy to find, but with food, we must make sure that good food doesn’t go to waste because we forgot about it before going bad. We hate that!! Below are some very useful tools to start the new year off right: organize pantries, refrigerators and your counter space so that you do not waste food.

Organizing your fridge prevents food waste

Building a Sustainable Pantry

Like many of us, you may have found your routine changing with news of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, whether you’re working remotely or keeping more supplies around for a possible extended stay at home. In stressful times, we usually look to food as a source of comfort. That doesn’t have to change if you follow a few guidelines and do as best you can to plan ahead. (Experts agree that it’s always a good idea for everyone to have 2-4 weeks of food on hand if budgets and space permit.)

Here are some smart and easy-to-follow tricks we’ve found for stocking up responsibly without adding to your stress.

Here’s our handy printable checklist

Source: Misfits Markets

Take stock of what you’ve got
Before you shop, do a simple pantry check and inventory what you already have. Move items that have the most recent expiration dates to the front of your pantry. Just like the FIFO (first in, first out) method for the fridge, the same rules can apply for shelf-stable items. You’ll want to eat up nearly-expired food first and plan to restock.

Buy what you like
If you’re going to have more food on hand than usual, make it stuff that you and your household already eat. If that means an abundance of pasta or soup mix—great! Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s a good idea to have both favorite snacks and nutrient-rich crowd-pleasers on hand, so don’t be tempted by labels with years-long expiration dates if it’s not something you normally eat. If by chance you don’t end up having to rely on your pantry of food, unfamiliar foods will continue to go to waste and could be better used by others who like them.

Start with non-perishables
Anything that can live in your pantry for weeks and months at a time is good to have on hand. The following items have long shelf lives with extended expiration dates. As long as you have a few on hand, you can make any meal in a pinch without sacrificing taste or nutrition:

  • Rice: A mix of short and long grain, plus varieties like risotto, can take on basically any flavor profile.
  • Dry pasta: Get long noodles as well as shorter ones like penne or bowtie so you’ve got a bit of variety on hand. If you’re looking into pasta mixes like mac and cheese, note whether you need milk to complete the recipe.
  • Cereal: Non-flavored versions can be added to snack mixes as well as your morning bowl.
  • Dried and canned beans: Dried tend to taste better when made at home but canned is easiest in a pinch.
  • Canned tomatoes and pasta sauce: Canned tomatoes work with a variety of cuisines from Indian and Italian to French.
  • Lentils: High-protein legumes are great for soups and salads. They’ll also keep you fuller, and longer if you need to space out your meals more than usual.
  • Nuts: Filled with protein, dried nuts are great for snacking and add flavor and crunch to salads. They can also stay fresh for up to 6 months.
  • Dried fruit: Perfect for snacking, salads, baking, or even rehydrating; try to invest in unsweetened versions as some are packed with sugar.
  • Peanut or nut butter: Good for spreading on bread as well as making energy balls.
  • Baking essentials: Just remember that flours expire too, so use the oldest ones first.
  • Dried herbs and spices: If you haven’t refreshed yours in a while, consider stocking up on new ones since flavor deteriorates with time.
  • Canned fish: Tuna is a go-to for sandwiches and for adding lean protein to salads if you need a meal in a pinch and don’t have access to an oven.
  • Stocks or broths: Vegetable, beef, and chicken broth are the base for many big-batch dishes like chili or bean soups.
  • Shelf-stable milks: Though dairy milk is occasionally found in shelf-stable packaging, here’s where the trend of plant-based milks really comes in handy. Consider keeping unsweetened, non-flavored (unless you really love it) almond, oat, coconut, or soy milk on hand.

In our Marketplace, we currently sell a number of deeply-discounted pantry and shelf-stable items such as oatmeal, dried lentils, and canned tomatoes—and even more goodies to come!—so you can fill your pantry while getting the fresh Misfits Market produce that you love.

Move onto fresh fruits and veggies
Some produce can last for weeks or months without refrigeration as long as it’s kept in a cool, dark, and dry place. We call these cellar foods. Many are hardy and starchy, so they help you make large and filling meals that can last a few days when refrigerated. Store the following items in a pantry or basement cellar if you have one:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions – just be sure to store far from other items, as the gasses they emit can cause other foods to ripen (and rot) faster
  • Hard/winter squash
  • Apples – as with onions, they also emit ethylene, a gas that speeds up spoiling so keep them separate from other veg
  • Beets – if yours come with greens, store in the fridge instead
  • Sunchokes
  • Rutabaga
  • Garlic

Other fruits and veggies do require refrigeration but can still keep for 1-3 weeks:

  • 1 week: mushrooms, strawberries, raspberries, green beans, zucchini
  • 1-2 weeks: brassica (cauliflower and broccoli), lettuce and leafy greens, celery, bell peppers, eggplant, blueberries, cucumbers
  • 3-4 weeks: citrus like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, apples (yep, we said the cellar but they will last longer in the fridge if you have room), carrots

Store fruits and veggies in the fridge with FIFO in mind: Keep the ones you need to eat first in the front of the fridge and the produce with a longer shelf life in the back. Always prioritize eating the most perishable fruits and veggies first or you’ll continue to create more food waste. Before eating produce that’s been in the fridge for a while, check for dark spots, mold, and mushy areas. You may be able to cut away bruised spots with no issues, but always smell the produce first—if it seems off, toss it.

Consider pickling
You can save time, money, and even save your Misfits Market produce from going to waste by pickling. Onions, cabbage, and even cherry tomatoes can be pickled and used for weeks if access to fresh produce is touch and go. 

Freeze everything else
Frozen foods you can quickly heat will always be a staple in any emergency, but you don’t need to rely solely on pre-made meals and packaged veggies. If you can spare the time, take a day or weekend to cook meals in batches, starting with your favorite meals and foods like chicken, roasted veggies, smoothie packs, meatloaf, and lasagna. Many of these meals can last 3-6 months in the freezer so you’ll have easy weeknight meals or blended drinks at the ready if you’re in a situation where you can’t make it to the store or if you’re in-between Misfits Market deliveries.

What’s more, bread, butter, and even eggs can be frozen. If you can’t fit everything you’ve bought in the fridge, take perishable items you always use and toss them in the freezer to use in a pinch. Just use them within a week after thawing.

Then, you’re ready to eat
In the event you’re holed up at home for any reason in the future, you can easily combine your shelf stable items with fresh produce as long as they’ve been stored and frozen properly. Pair fresh Misfits Market fruits and veggies with pantry items and you can still eat fresh, delicious, and nutritious meals like grain bowls, smoothies, tacos, one-pot pastas, soups, chilis, fried rice, and even ramen. Canned tomatoes can be paired with just about any fresh veg. Toss canned beans into salads and on top of baked potatoes. Add steamed fresh veggies and a hard boiled to instant ramen for a filling, nearly no-cook meal.

Save everything
Following the sage advice of Atlantic staff writer Amanda Mull, don’t toss anything that could be repurposed for another meal or to flavor multiple dishes.

  • Parmesan rinds add flavor to soups and homemade tomato sauces—combine canned tomatoes with tomato paste, garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a Parmesan rind. Remove the rind before serving and you have a fragrant and flavorful homemade sauce to pair with a box of pasta.
  • Veggie scraps, tips, ends, and peels can be saved and used to make a flavorful homemade stock, which can quickly become the base for homemade soups with a can of beans or chickpeas.
  • Leftover bones from whatever meat or poultry you cook can be saved to make a beef or poultry broth.
  • Even pickle juice from store bought (or homemade!) pickles can be used in place of vinegar in things like gazpacho, to brine other veggies and eggs, and even added to hummus and other dips for a tangy kick.

Got a tip for saving food indefinitely or a question about the best way to stock your pantry? Let us know in a comment below!

#foodwaste #foodfindersin #sustainable pantry #misfitsmarket #foodstorage

READ MORE
Food Waste

Honey-Roasted Whole Carrot

#WhyWasteWednesday

#WhyWasteFood Wednesday is a call to action to take those almost-in-the-trash food items and turn them into delicious meals!

At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year around the world—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in our homes! If each individual made a call to action to stop their own food waste–the planet benefits, we have less hunger, and your own grocery bills will go down through the savings.

UN Food & Agricultural

Scraps: Whole Carrots with greens, Cilantro with white roots

This recipe uses the entire carrot, including the tops, and also an uncommon part of the cilantro, the white roots. They’re pungent and slightly peppery, which is a perfect complement to the carrot top chimichurri.

Chimichurri

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches carrots, with green tops
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine vinegar
  • ½ bunch cilantro, white roots attached
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. Rinse the carrots well, then remove the tops and set the carrots aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the garlic, shallot, red wine vinegar, cilantro, carrot tops, and olive oil until finely chopped (see notes).
  3. Allow the chimichurri to sit refrigerated for at least 2 hours so the greens soften and flavor the olive oil.

Roasted Whole Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (118 g) chopped walnuts
  • 2 carrots, tops and greens removed
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) grapeseed oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) sriracha
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) honey

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, coat the carrots with the grapeseed oil, salt, and black pepper.
  4. Season the yogurt with salt if it’s too thin. Strain it with a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the whey. Add the whey to the chimichurri for mild acidity.
  5. Combine the sriracha and honey, and pour half the mixture over the carrots, coating them evenly. Arrange the carrots in an ovenproof pan. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on thickness), until tender and browned.
  6. Remove the carrots from the oven and drizzle with the remaining sriracha and honey.
  7. To finish, spread the yogurt on a plate and arrange the carrots on top. Spoon the chimichurri over the carrots and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.

The scrapsbook. IKEA. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2022.

If you have a recipe you would like to share with us for #whywastewednesday, please email christian.bearden100@gmail.com.

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

#whywastewednesday  #foodfindersinc  #foodrescue #stopfoodwaste #reducehunger #improvenutrition #helpfoodinsecurecommunities #HelpEndHunger #Volunteer #Charity #fightinghunger #rescuingfood #Donate #makeanimpact

READ MORE