Ask an Expert // Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables



Storing FruitHave you been to a farmers market yet this year? Whether it’s from a farmers market or a grocery store, don’t let that fresh produce spoil on your counter. Here are some tips on how to store fruits and vegetables so they last longer. 

One of the benefits of shopping at farmers markets is the fruits and vegetables are often fresher than those at most grocery stores. Much of the produce was picked within a couple of days, or even hours of the market. Fresher fruits and vegetables will last a little longer before they begin to spoil. But, there are also some additional things you can do at home to help your produce last even longer. Follow these fruit and vegetable storage recommendations to reduce the amount of produce that spoils before you can use it.  Use this chart to identify fruits and vegetables that spoil the quickest and be sure to use those first.

Storing Fruits and Veggies

This article was written by Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director, and Casey Coombs, RD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense


Ask an Expert // RV Camping Tips

RV Tips

Watch USU Extension expert Teresa Hunker share some great RV Camping tips with KSL’s Studio 5. 

RV Expert Tips

Paying for College without Breaking the Bank

Paying for CollegeIt’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll pay for your child’s education. 

According to a study conducted by Nerdwallet, an astonishing $29 billion in free college money was left unclaimed for the 2016-2017 school year. Among those statistics, Utah ranks highest in students who were eligible to receive free money, but missed out on the opportunity simply by neglecting to complete their FAFSA forms. If you or someone you know is preparing to attend college, make sure they know the numerous ways they can receive FREE money to help pay for their educational costs.

FAFSA: First and foremost, it is important to know about the website www.fafsa.gov. It is worth your while to check out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and all the financial resources they offer to help students pay for college. You can begin applying for FAFSA as early as October 1st for the upcoming year using your tax information from the previous year. Make sure you fill it out as early as possible as supply is limited, and be sure you update and reapply for FAFSA each year you are attending school. Send your FAFSA to all the schools you are interested in attending so they can send you their financial aid offers. Students must also include parent’s information on their FAFSA until they are 24 years of age; exceptions can be found at https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1718/help/fftoc02k.htm.

Employee Tuition Reimbursement: If you or your children are preparing to attend college, ask your employer if they offer any education benefits to students through tuition reimbursement or scholarships.

529 Savings Plan: These are tax advantaged savings plans that allow funds to grow tax free if used for educational purposes. There are 14 different investment choices that range from age-based options to static options, or customized options. These accounts can be opened by anyone for as little as $1 and anyone can contribute to the account at any point before the student withdraws the funds. For more information about this program, visit www.uesp.org.

Individual Development Account: This 3-1 matched savings program allows an individual to save up to $1,500 and receive $4,500 over the course of a 1-to 3-year period. Funds also grow tax free as long as they are withdrawn for use of assistive technology or educational purposes. There are income limitations and eligibility requirements. For more information, visit www.uidan.org.

Grants: Usually offered through FAFSA, grants are often based on an individual’s financial need. Grants are free money you don’t have to pay back, and the most an individual can receive in Federal Pell Grants for the upcoming year is $5,920. Be sure you apply early and often, as supplies for grant money is often limited and is distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Scholarships: Probably the most well-known form of free money, scholarship eligibility can be based on such things as interests, talents, program of study, grades and community involvement. They are usually offered through schools and universities, departments and cultural and religious organizations. Scholarships are also free money that you don’t have to pay back, and you will never have to pay to apply for one. A few helpful and fun scholarship databases include: www.fastweb.com, www.unigo.com, www.chegg.com, www.cappex.com and  https://stepuputah.com.

Work Study: This payment option is received by employment through the student’s college or university. Work study provides students with flexible jobs that allow them to complete school work during their work hours, or provide more hands-on training related to the student’s field of study. Paychecks can be used to pay tuition, fees, student loans, etc. Income received through work study must be claimed on the follow year’s taxes, but does not count against the student on FAFSA the following year. To apply for work study, mark “yes” on question 31 of FAFSA.

Federal Loans: Only borrow what you need for tuition if you choose to take out student loans to fund your education. Federal loans are offered through the government and there are four main types:

  •      Subsidized loans – These do not begin building interest until the student has graduated from the college or university. They are typically offered to undergraduate students, and repayment plans can be deferred 6 months after graduation.
  •      Unsubsidized loans – These allow interest to begin accruing from the moment the loan is signed. This means students will essentially be paying interest on interest once they graduate from school. These loans are typically only offered to graduate and professional students.
  •      Direct Plus loans – These are loans taken out for a student by a parent.
  •      Direct Perkins loans – These loans are offered through specific colleges and universities. They are usually based on financial need, and supply is often limited.

Private Loans: Again, only borrow what you need for tuition if you choose to take out student loans to fund your education. Private loans are offered through banks and other financial institutions. They are typically less flexible with repayment options, but offer all the same options as federal loans and do not require the completion of FAFSA.

This article was written by Kirstin Kvam USU Extension Finance Program Coordinator, Salt Lake County





Sliding vs. Deciding for Better Relationships

Sliding v Deciding.jpg

Find out why it’s important to make clear decisions instead of just going with the flow.

One of the reasons relationships can be difficult is that people don’t make clear decisions together about what they’re doing or where they’re headed. There are times in life when it’s easy to slide, or go with the flow to enjoy life. However, sometimes we need clear decisions that make it easier to follow through.

Sliding vs. deciding means people do best when they make decisions about important things in life rather than sliding through life without thinking carefully about what they want. For example, after coming home from work and the business of the day, instead of sliding into watching TV, decide to plan an activity with your partner or child. Another example would be deciding to save up for a trip or large purchase and setting up a savings plan, rather than just hoping there will eventually be enough money for the trip you’d like to take.

USU Extension – will be teaching Within Our Reach curriculum as part of our Healthy Family Fun Nights. One of the core themes of Within Our Reach is based on this idea that we do best in life when we make clear decisions, instead of sliding through choices. The course will teach critical life and relationship skills to help create a better environment for your family. Participating families will also learn how to make a healthy, quick, delicious dinner and enjoy it together. We are currently recruiting for a series in Logan, UT that will be held in the evenings on May 16, May 23, May 30, and June 6. Register for the event in Logan here.

Check out our website to find a Healthy Family Fun series near you!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, PhD RD Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist


Poison Prevention // Liquid Laundry Packets

Liquid Laundry Packets

Liquid laundry detergent packets are convenient, but to a child the brightly colored, shiny packets may look deceivingly like candy or a toy. Check out these tips to keep your children safe and prevent an accident with liquid laundry packets.

As a parent, you play an essential role in the safety of your children.

You have probably thought about car seat safety, cords on window coverings, and how to prevent drowning or burns. But what about laundry safety?

Children act fast and accidents can happen in an instant. Accidents involving liquid laundry packets can easily be prevented with safe use and storage.

You can make a difference by ensuring you and your friends and family are properly using and storing liquid laundry packets by keeping them up high and out of reach of young children.

Prevention is simple.

  1. Make it a habit to always store packets out of reach and sight of children
  2. Always store laundry packets in their original container or pouch until they are ready to be used
  3. Do not let children handle laundry packets
  4. Be sure to read the product label before use

The liquid in these pre-measured packets is harmful if put in the mouth, swallowed, or gets in the eye. Immediately call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 if there is an accident.

Locking detergent packets up in a cabinet is an effective way to keep these products out of reach of young children, especially when little ones begin exploring closets and cabinets at an early age.

Information from the American Cleaning Institute. Print their activity sheet to help teach your children about poison prevention from household cleaners.


Less is More: 3 Tips to Spring Clean Your Life


Spring Clean Your LifeDo you find yourself surrounded with clutter? Try these three tips to spring clean your life and clear away some of the clutter.

Ahhh…Spring!  A time of re-birth, baby animals, green grass, flowers and budding trees; basically a season for renewal all around. Historically, spring was the time homemakers cleaned the winter coal soot off the wall coverings and fixtures of their homes. A deep clean on the inside of the home, no doubt, reflected the freshness of the season outside. Here’s my deep thought for you today: What kind of “coal soot” is covering your “insides?” Don’t worry—this isn’t about colon cleanses or detoxifying your diet. It’s bigger than that. I’m talking about clutter.

Clutter is all around us; our lives are cluttered with words, images, data, sounds and STUFF. Big stuff, little stuff, stuff we don’t even remember we have because it is buried under other stuff or stuffed into boxes of stuff. Clutter is our generation’s “coal soot.”  We bring it into our lives to fill a need, be it emotional or physical. But for some reason we let it stay long after the need has been filled. My challenge to you is to clear the clutter and spring clean your life.  Here’s how:

  1. Create a baseline.  Just like in budgeting or weight loss or any habit change, it’s difficult to make changes unless you have a good idea of what’s happening to begin with.  For example, assess your clutter. Is it mostly clothes, toys, papers, tools or books?  Start by bringing all of the same type of item together in one place.  Start small, say, with shirts.  Get all your shirts in one pile.
  1. Assess the value.  Now that you have all your shirts (or whatever item you’ve chosen to start with) go through the pile one by one.  Evaluate whether each item brings you joy.
  1. Keep, trash, donate, or sell.  Your number one goal is to only keep the items that are bringing you the most joy and the rest you can send on its way.  And it’s okay! There will be lots of items that have good use left in them. But if you’re not using them, do what you can to get the items into the hands of someone who will.

Less truly is more.  The tiny house movement really might be onto something!  When we own less, we have less to clean and less to trip over in the dark – just think of the health benefits!  Not to mention the potential to lift moods and bring harmony into a home; can you imagine a weekend without nagging your kids to clean their bedrooms? Fewer items to put away paired with habits of giving every item a “home” creates an opportunity for neatness.

Now, I’ll share a few cautions:

  1. Beware of the temptation of storage bins.  While the storage industry has made leaps and bounds in developing items that are fashionable and attractive, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need them.  After you’ve decreased the number of belongings, you might just realize you don’t need so many bins and pockets and cubbies to hide things in so your home has the appearance of tidiness. Tidiness is a natural result of owning less.
  2. Evaluate your buying habits and motivations.  As you are letting go of things you no longer need, think about why you purchased/acquired the items to begin with. If there are habits you need to change, apply those habits to future purchases and learn from the experience.
  1. Be kind to yourself. You’ll no doubt have some misgivings about the items you’re letting go of. The money spent on those items is gone, and guilt over making a purchase you didn’t necessarily use responsibly or no longer need isn’t worth it.

The feeling of a lifted burden is invigorating and refreshing. Kind of like spring… and cleaning the coal soot out.

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development


Kondo, M. (2014). The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. New York: Ten Speed Press.

Increase the Joy with Forgiveness

joy through forgiveness graphicSo much of our happiness is within our own control. Find out how to increase joy in your marriage or relationship through forgiveness.

Isn’t it amazing that the people we are closest to have the ability to offend us the most?  One reason for this is that when we love someone, we lower our protective emotional wall so we are more vulnerable to getting hurt.  It works the same with the people who love us – none of us are perfect – we have all said or done things that offend those we love the most. It is the way we REACT to offending or being offended that determines the effect on our relationship. It is important to think about how we really want to feel. Do you want to feel anger, resentment, bitterness, pain, and misery or do you want to feel love, peace, joy, and happiness? There are two responses that will bring about the positive feelings we all want to enjoy – forgiving your spouse when you are offended, and offering a sincere apology when you have offended your loved one.

The following five steps can help you in the forgiveness process and will allow you to replace the feelings of bitterness and hurt with positive feelings of love:

  1. Take time to calm down before speaking to your spouse. This allows your brain to switch from the “fight or flight” area of the brain to the higher level thinking part of the brain.
  2. Talk with your spouse about what happened to offend you. Sometimes you will find it was a misunderstanding or totally unintentional.        
  3. Recognize you aren’t perfect either. Think of the many times your spouse has forgiven you for offenses.
  4. Think of at least three memories when your feelings of love were especially strong for your spouse. Whenever you feel negative emotions of anger, hurt etc., think of these memories.
  5. Give yourself time for the hurt feelings to be replaced with feelings of love. It may take some time, but don’t give up!

It is also important to learn how to offer a sincere apology. Three crucial steps are:

  1. Recognize exactly what you did to offend your spouse.
  2. Develop a plan to avoid repeating the same mistake again.
  3. Tell your spouse you are sorry.

Making sure you include the first two steps will make the third step more meaningful and effective.

So…think of something you may have done recently to offend your spouse and begin the steps of apologizing — and think of something your spouse has done that offended you and begin the steps of forgiveness. Don’t forget the three memories!

Marriage can be hard work when you think about giving and taking, forgiving and asking for forgiveness – but when you are snuggling in the arms of the one you love, it is well worth it!

This article was written by GaeLynn Peterson, Wayne County Director and Extension Assistant Professor, FCS and 4-H Youth

Ask An Expert // Six Tips for Portable Emergency Food Storage

emergency foodWhat would your family eat in an emergency? Get prepared with these six expert tips on portable emergency food storage.

Weather can regularly create emergency situations such as massive power outages, dangerous road conditions or flooding across the nation. In Utah, we are not without our share of emergency weather-caused situations that can leave people stranded, without heat or lights for several hours or stopped on the freeway due to a car accident.

While these situations can be frustrating at best, some can mean there will be no relief for up to 72 hours. How would you fare if you were home or in your car “stuck” with only what you have on hand to help you survive? Would you have sufficient supplies of food and water and a source of heat/warmth and other emergency items to last for 3 or more days?

If you are new to food storage and/or emergency preparedness, this question may be difficult to answer. However, even for those who think they are prepared, it’s good to review some basics and examine what goes in a 72-hour emergency kit.

Below are six tips for preparing your portable emergency supply, adapted from USU’s online publication, “A Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies.”

1. Foods to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA 2012), the general guidelines are to stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation along with a manual can opener and eating utensils. Examples include:

  •  Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts, chips or crackers
  • Food for infants
  • Powdered drink mixes to add to water
  • Comfort/stress foods, candy bars, etc.

2. Beverages to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

  • Bottled water
  • Soda or juices (Avoid diet sodas if possible since the artificial sweeteners break down and can cause an off flavor in soda stored beyond the expiration date. Regular soda will just taste flat.)
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk (Sold in cartons; does not require refrigeration.)

3. How to store the 3-day/72-hour supply kit:

In case you are home and need to evacuate on short notice, these supplies should be stored in a convenient location close to a front door or garage. Use one or two portable containers. Consider a tote on wheels with a handle, backpacks, etc., that are easy to move. Be sure they will fit in your car and that they can be carried or pulled to a safe location if you need to leave the car.

4. Amount of water to include:

The recommendation is 1 gallon of water per person (adult) per day. However, the requirement for staying hydrated varies according to age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. Bottled water is the easiest to store; whether it is purchased in individual serving sizes or larger containers such as 3-liter jugs. Again, consider how you will carry this with you.

5.  How to keep food cold or frozen at home:

If you experience a power outage that doesn’t require you to leave your home, make certain perishable foods remain useable for as long as possible. If you have enough warning or have extra space in the freezer, fill empty spaces with bagged blocks of ice or fill clean plastic containers/jugs with water and freeze. Food in the freezer may not stay completely frozen but will stay cold for 1-2 days. Foods in the refrigerator may fare better if they can be transferred into insulated ice chests and covered with cubed ice.

6. How to maintain emergency food storage:

It is not only important to obtain a 72-hour supply of food and water, but also to store it safely and rotate the food to keep it appetizing and safe to eat.

  • Keep the foods in a cool, dry place.
  • Store in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned goods that have become dented, show signs of corrosion or are bulging.
  • Use foods by their expiration/freshness dates and replace as necessary.
  • Rotate water storage annually.
  • Re-evaluate your food and water storage needs annually as families expand or get smaller in numbers.

The initial expense of time and money to establish a 3-day emergency food supply may seem daunting. However, once established, you can reduce the sense of fear, knowing you are prepared and can keep your family nourished during an emergency situation.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132

10 Tips for Romance on a Budget

Romance on a budgetYou don’t have to break the bank to add a little romance back into your relationship. Try these 10 tips to make it happen.

When couples first meet, romantic feelings are usually very strong and partners go out of their way to create romantic experiences together.  Over time, it can become challenging to find time, money and energy to create romantic moments together. However, creating romantic moments together does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Consider the following tips to reignite the romance in your relationship.   

  1. Candlelight dinner. Going out for an expensive dinner is a popular way to show your partner that you care, but is often reserved for special occasions because of the cost. Almost any meal (even take-out) can be made special by adding a nice ambiance of candles and soft music.  Just be sure to keep the television off and focus instead on having a conversation with your sweetheart. To make the night extra special, dress up in your best clothes to make it feel like you are at a special event.
  2. Express yourself. Take a moment to reflect on the things you really like or appreciate about your partner but often don’t say. Write them a short note and put it some place where it will surprise him or her, like their car’s dashboard or tucked inside their tablet case. While handwritten notes are a bit more personal, romantic text messages can also be a nice surprise.
  3. De-stress together. Forget about life’s challenges while watching a movie you both enjoy and giving each other a massage or a pedicure.
  4. Take a stroll. Going on a walk with you partner can provide a relaxing time to talk, and provide a boost of feel-good endorphins. For extra romance, try going for a walk at sunset.
  5. Get “board.” Board games are a timeless and inexpensive way of having fun together. To add some extra fun, decide on a prize that the “winner” will get such as a favorite treat or doing a chore for the other person, and be sure to make an effort to flirt with each other while playing.
  6. Catch some culture. Concerts or plays can make a fun date night but can also be expensive. As an alternative, check out the local newspaper and community websites for local band concerts, school plays and community-hosted events.
  7. Dream together. Escape from your current financial situation and let your imagination run free as you dream together about your hopes and dreams for the future. Consider creating a dream board or book of ideas and pictures that you can reflect on together at a later time.
  8. Get cozy. Snuggle up together in a blanket and enjoy the night sky together. For an added bonus, find a place to star gaze where you can also cozy up together in the glow of a small fire.
  9. Take a class together. Research indicates that couples who take time to learn relationship skills and insights together have stronger and happier relationships. Consider attending a healthy relationship class in your area or reading and discussing a relationship book or article aimed at keeping your relationship strong. Find classes and resources at www.strongermarriage.org.
  10. Expand your experiences. Attending community date nights can be fun because you can try new experiences and you can have a fun night out without all of the event planning! They also provide opportunities to interact with other couples who are committed to strengthening their relationships. Check out the low-cost date nights coming up this spring across the Wasatch Front found on www.strongermarriage.org under classes and events in Weber County.

This article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor, naomi.brower@usu.edu, 801-399-8206

Water // The First Step for Family Preparedness

Water Preparedness.jpgWant to build up your family’s emergency supplies, but not sure where to start? A great first step is to store water. Find out how to get started here!

The human body is made up of 65 percent water, and it is necessary for our existence. Water helps our blood flow, carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells, flushes waste products from our body and even cushions our tissues and joints. It is also a critical component in food digestion. Water is fundamental for our daily life.

Providing for our water needs in the event of a disaster becomes a top priority, as water may have been interrupted or contaminated. Each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day. For home storage, you should have at least a 2-week supply of water available for each person for drinking and sanitation. Water should be stored in food-grade containers such as glass jars, metal or plastic containers. Previously used juice and milk containers are not acceptable, as food proteins are difficult to remove, and the grade of plastic might not be adequate.

Treatments may be necessary if water is from a non-sterile source. Suggested methods are:

  •    Heat treatment-boil water 5-10 minutes. Use water bath processing for glass jars. 
  •    Chemical treatment Unscented Chlorine Treatment –8 drops per gallons (less than 1/8 tsp), or 2 drops per quart. Let stand for 30 minutes. For cloudy water, use 24 drops per 2 gallons (4 drops per quart). If still cloudy, repeat, let stand 15 minutes, and dispose if still cloudy. Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. 

    Nearly all available liquid chlorine bleach is now concentrated. Amounts that are required for treatment are less than in previous years. Beware of expiration dates. If the bottle of bleach is older than 4 months, it should not be used as a water purifying agent. Bleach will dissipate after 1 year.

  •      Other forms of treatment are iodine, water purification tablets, distillation and filtration. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has recently approved the use of colloidal silver in low doses for maintaining microbiological quality of stored water.  

Additional emergency sources of water may be:  Potable water from pipes, water heater, ice cube trays and beverages. Do not use water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds for drinking. Chemicals have been added to these, making them unsafe.

When potable (drinkable) water is properly disinfected and stored in ideal conditions, it should have an indefinite shelf life.  To maintain the optimum quality, water should be rotated every 6 months.    

Water storage is the first important step to preparedness. It is cost effective and something you can do today. Begin by storing in small containers, then work toward the 50-gallon barrels.  These should not be stored on the dirt or direct concrete, as they will absorb orders. Containers that are filled from the tap (city water) will not need treatments.  

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, USU Professor