Ask an Expert // Four Tips to Help You Eliminate Food Waste and Save Money

food waste sq

Did you know that the average American throws away hundreds of pounds of food every year? That’s a lot of wasted food and a lot of wasted money! These helpful tips from Melanie Jewkes, USU Extension associate professor, will help you cut back on food waste. 


The average American throws away nearly 275 pounds of food each year. The USDA estimates between 30 to 40 percent of America’s food supply is wasted. Not only is good food wasted, but good money, too, equating to about $390 per year per person. While no one should eat unsafe food, consider these strategies to minimize food waste—and put the saved money toward a financial goal.

1. Use fresh foods first. Most fresh and perishable foods that have to be thrown away are simply forgotten. Shop with a list and a plan how you will use the food you purchase. It can be easy to over-purchase when there are sale items, or when many fruits and vegetables are in season, so be realistic about how much your household will eat. Place fresh items at the front of the fridge so you see them when you open the door. Make a list of your fresh foods and place it in a prominent place on the fridge. If you find yourself throwing away fresh produce often because it spoils too quickly, purchase reusable containers or bags that ventilate the air and keep water from sitting on the produce.

2. Store fresh foods properly. Apples can cause nearby produce to ripen or decay more quickly, due to a harmless ethylene they contain that causes food to ripen. To prevent this, keep apples in a produce bag or store them alone in a drawer in the fridge. Onions, potatoes and tomatoes last longer when NOT refrigerated. For storage tips, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

3. Understand food “expiration” dates. These dates are not created equal, are not required by federal regulations (except infant formula) and do not necessarily mean food is unsafe or expired. Save money and minimize food waste by knowing the difference.

a. The “sell by” date simply tells the store how long to display the product. Consumers should eat or freeze within 3-5 days of the date printed on fresh meat packages.

b. The “use by” dates refer to peak quality, but are not safety dates (except infant formula). They are found most often on fresh and chilled foods like bagged salads.

c. “Best if used by/before” dates indicate when food will have the best quality or
flavor. Even if the “best if used by” date has passed, it should be safe if stored and handled properly. Moisture, time and temperatures affect how quickly food spoils.

4. Use safe methods for preserving foods. Freezing is the quickest way, and most foods freeze nicely. Dehydrating, canning and freeze-drying are other options. Don’t preserve food that is going rotten, as this will affect the quality of the final preserved product. Be sure to follow safe USDA-approved food preservation and storage recommendations. Check out USU Extension’s website extension.usu.edu/canning or contact your local county Extension office for further information.


This article was contributed by Melanie Jewkes, USU Extension associate professor.
 Melanie.jewkes@usu.edu




Aged Fruit Cake

fruitcake

Do you have a surplus of canned fruit in your pantry? Use it up with this delicious fruit cake recipe! And remember, always practice proper food safety when preserving and using canned goods.


 

This is an old Extension recipe for using up your bottled fruit.  This cake is more like a pudding cake, rather than a light and fluffy cake.  If old fruit is not available, canned fruit of any age, or fruit cocktail, works well.  Serves 16-20. 

Ingredients:

1- quart fruit, with juice
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins, nuts, or coconut (optional)

Instructions:

Blend fruit with juice in a food processor or blender (or use a potato masher—it need not be a fine puree).  Add sugar and oil to fruit and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Pour batter in a non-stick 9×13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Cake is rich and can be eaten plain, but if frosting is desired, a butter cream or cream cheese frosting pairs well.


Need a refresher? Click here for canning safety tips!




2018 Farmers Market Roundup

 

farmers market

If you want fresh, locally grown produce, farmers markets are the perfect place for you! Find a farmers market near you and support growers in your community.
Quick tip:  bring cash and a few reusable grocery bags so you can shop to your heart’s content. 


 

9th West Farmers Market*
Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
June through October, International Peace Gardens, 1060 S. 900 W., Salt Lake City
http://9thwestfarmersmarket.org

Ashley Valley Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
July through September, 225 E. Main St., Vernal
http://avfarmersmarket.wix.com/avfarmersmarket

Benson Grist Mill Historic Site
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May through October, 325 State Rd. 138, Stansbury Park
www.bensonmill.org

Bountiful Farmers Market
Thursdays, 3 p.m. –  8 p.m.
June through October, 400 North 200 W., Bountiful
http://www.bountifulmainstreet.com

BYU- LaVell Edwards Stadium Farmers Market
Thursdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
August through October, 213 E. University Parkway, Provo
http://dining.byu.edu/farmers_market.html

Cache Valley Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
May through October, Cache Historic Courthouse, 199 North Main Street, Logan
https://gardenersmarket.org/

Daybreak Farmers Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
June through September, 11274 Kestrel Rise Rd, South Jordan
https://www.daybreakfarmersmarket.com/

Downtown Farmers Market*
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., June through October
Tuesdays, 4 p.m. – dusk, August through October
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., November through April
Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 W., Salt Lake City
http://www.slcfarmersmarket.org

Daybreak Farmers Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
June through October, Daybreak in South Jordan
https://www.daybreakfarmersmarket.com/

Downtown Farmers Market at Ancestor Square*
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – noon
May through October, 2 W. St. George Blvd., St. George
http://www.farmersmarketdowntown.com

Farm Fest Market – Sevier County
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
June through October, 370 E. 600 N., Joseph

Long Valley Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon
Mid May through Mid October, 475 N. State St., Orderville
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Long-Valley-Farmers-Market/1397811127154513

Moab Farmers Market*
Fridays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
May through October, Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 W., Moab
http://www.moabfarmersmarket.com/

Murray Farmers Market
Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
August through October, 200 E 5200 S, Murray Park
https://slco.org/urban-farming/farmers-markets/murray-farmers-market/

Park Silly Sunday Market
Wednesdays, noon – 5 p.m.
June 13 through September, Silver King Resort, Park City
http://www.parksillysundaymarket.com

Provo Farmers Market*
Saturdays 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
June through October, Pioneer Park, 500 W. Center St., Provo
http://www.provofarmersmarket.org

Richmond Harvest Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
June through Mid-October, 563 S. State, Richmond
http://richmond-utah.com/harvest.html

Roosevelt Farmers Market
Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
June 22 through September 28, 130 W. 100 N., Roosevelt
facebook.com/groups/101217766689683/

South Jordan Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
August 6 through October 29, 10695 S. Redwood Road
http://www.southjordanfarmersmarket.com

Spanish Fork Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
End of July – November, 67 East 100 North, Spanish Fork
http://www.spanishforkchamber.com

Sugar House Farmers Market*
Wednesdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
July through September, Fairmont Park 1040 E Sugarmont Drive, Salt Lake City
http://www.sugarhousefarmersmarket.org

Syracuse City Farmers Market*
Wednesdays, 5 p.m. – dusk
July through August, 1891 West Antelope Drive, Syracuse
facebook.com/SyracuseCityUtahFarmersMarket

USU Botanical Center Farmers Market*
Thursdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. (dusk)
July through September, USU Botanical Center, 875 S. 50 W., Kaysville
http://www.usubotanicalcenter.org/events/farmers-market/

VA Farmers Market
Wednesdays, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
July through September, VA Medical Center, 500 Foothill Drive
Lawn and patio outside the Building 8 Canteen.
https://www.saltlakecity.va.gov/SALTLAKECITY/features/vaslchcsfarmersmarket.asp

Wayne County Farmers Market
Saturdays, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
May through October, Center and Main Street, Torrey
http://www.facebook.com/WayneCountyFarmersMarket

Wheeler Farmers Market
Sundays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
June through October, 6351 S. 900 E., Murray

Year-Round Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – noon, Year-Round
Wednesdays, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., May through October
50 W. Center St., Cedar City
http://yearroundmarket.weebly.com/

 


*Markets marked with an asterisk utilize electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines, allowing Food Stamp participants to use their benefits to buy fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets.

Did we miss a market? Let us know in the comments!




Put Your Best Fork Forward// Small Changes to Help You Find Balance

Put Your Best Fork Forward.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! To help spread its message this month, we’ve got five recommendations for ways you can “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”


  1. Focus on small changes. The Dietary Guidelines recommend starting with small changes that add up to lasting lifestyle changes over time. Perhaps that means starting your day with breakfast, drinking more water or reaching for fruits/vegetables at snack time.
  2. Prepare more meals at home. Gather your family around the table, share a healthy meal and make memories at the same time. Remember to talk positively about healthy foods—your kids are listening!

  3. Make your plate MyPlate. Focus on the five food groups and fill your plate with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a serving of low-fat dairy on the side.

  4. Choose healthful options when dining out. Request healthy side dishes and ask for modifications to be sure the meal meets your nutritional goals. Practice portion control by bringing half the food home for another meal.

  5. Find that balance. Weight management comes down to calories in versus calories out, so be sure to find that balance between the two by eating the right amount of food to meet your needs while finding ways to move your body through physical activity.  

This article was written by Kaitlin Anderson, news@postbulletin.com.

 




Cooking with Kitchen Staples

Kitchen Staple GraphicWith a few basic cooking skills and some common kitchen staples, you can cook a variety of foods in your kitchen. Try some of these basic recipes using flour, and learn more about the Youth Can Cook program.


Youth Can Cook

The Youth Can Cook program is a multi-tiered life skills and job-readiness program. Eligible youth will be provided with food-related education, healthy relationship tips and be connected to career opportunities, by completing the Food Safety Manager Certification and through a paid internship. 

As part of the Youth Can Cook program, teens learn about basic cooking skills. With the combination of basic cooking skills and staple ingredients, the options are endless. Staple ingredients are ingredients commonly used for a variety of recipes. Today we are focusing on the staple ingredient, flour.

Cooking with Flour

Do you have a lot of flour but are not sure what to do with it? Flour is a kitchen staple that many people have on hand. It is a diverse ingredient used for making sauces, desserts, and tortillas. Here are a few recipes that don’t take long and might have you thinking outside of your normal routine! The following recipes call for whole wheat flour; feel free to use half whole wheat flour and half white flour, or just white flour for these recipes.

Homemade Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ C. whole-wheat flour
  • ½ C. oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 C. water heated in microwave for 1 minute

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer set with a dough hook, pour in the flour, oil, and salt. Beat with the paddle until crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed. If your hand-held mixer comes with dough hooks, those can be used as well.
  2. With the mixer running, gradually add the warm water and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Take out the dough and divide it into 12 equal-sized pieces. I do this by making the dough into a big log shape that is about 8 – 10 inches long. Then I cut it in the middle. Then I cut each of those pieces in the middle and so on until you have 12 pieces.
  4. Using the palms of your hand, roll each piece into a round ball and flatten it out on a baking tray or board. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.
  5. Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle or 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. The pan should be fairly hot before you begin cooking the tortillas.
  6. On a lightly floured board or counter top, use a rolling pin to turn each ball into an 8-to-10 inch flat circle (measure against your recipe if printed on a 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper). Be careful not to use more than a teaspoon or two of flour when rolling out each ball into a tortilla because too much excess flour will burn in the pan.
  7. Grease the pan with a touch of oil (or ghee) and then carefully transfer each tortilla, one at a time, to the pan and cook until puffy and slightly brown, about 30 to 45 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Eat within an hour, refrigerate or freeze.

Recipe from: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/recipe-whole-wheat-tortillas/

Homemade Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2 C. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ T. yeast
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 ½ t. sugar
  • ¾ C. water
  • 1 t. canola oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add water and oil and mix well to incorporate flour mixture. Form dough into ball. Let rise 10 minutes while covered with a clean towel.
  4. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a pizza crust shape.
  5. Place on prepared pizza pan or baking sheet. Cover with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Recipe from: Food $ense program

Homemade Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 C. warm water
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 package fast acting yeast
  • 2 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ C. whole-wheat flour
  • 4 T. butter
  • ¼ C. honey
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 C. water
  • 1/3 C. baking soda (for boiling water)
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T. water
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Combine the water, salt, yeast, flour, butter, and honey.
  2. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl, and prepare a second bowl by rubbing vegetable oil along the inside.
  4. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  6. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
  7. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
  8. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.
  9. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
  10. Place onto the parchment-lined, half-sheet pan.
  11. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds.
  12. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.
  13. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with salt.
  14. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe from: http://honestcooking.com/honey-whole-wheat-pretzels/


This article was written by Katie Kapp, Youth Can Cook Program Coordinator with Utah State University Extension Salt Lake County

 




Ask an Expert // Check Your Hunger-Fullness Scale and Become a Mindful Eater

Mindful Eating Graphic.jpgDo you pay attention the cues your body sends you about hunger and fullness? Check out these tips about being a more mindful eater, and you may find you can skip dieting all together. 


Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season. As we are starting into the New Year, most of us have hit the reset button and have wellness on our minds. One of the things I hear most from people is how they need to cleanse from the holidays, so their answer is to go on a diet. A lot of those diets promise results of rapid weight loss by either removing or limiting certain foods, only eating certain food combinations, following a strict food intake pattern or taking a supplement. The bottom line is simple: if a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of a diet this year, why not try something that will stick?

Mindful eating is not a diet, but a practice that focuses on how we eat, not just what we eat. Mindful eating involves eating slower and deliberately, avoiding distractions while eating (yes, step away from your desk to eat lunch), listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, eating food that tastes good and is full of nutrients and being aware of your emotions.

Most of the food we eat is not directly related to hunger, but is often due to social activities, distractions or emotions such as stress, sadness or boredom. In order to start practicing mindful eating, first check in with your body. Do you notice a dull headache? Would someone use the word hangry to describe your mood? Or maybe you are on the opposite end, feeling content and ready for a nap?

Below is the hunger and fullness scale. This tool is something you can start using today, without having to go out of your way. Most people recognize that they are hungry well past the first signs of hunger and then eat past the point of fullness. The time to start eating is when you are at a four, and the time to stop eating is when you are at about a five. 

hunger and fullness scale (2).jpg

Becoming a mindful eater takes time and practice. The ability to recognize your own hunger and fullness cues will help you as you become a mindful eater. For more information, check out this factsheet: Mindful Eating: Benefits, Challenges, and Strategies.


jaqueline neid avilaThis article was written by Jaqueline Neid-Avila, Utah State University Extension assistant professor. Jaqueline has lived all over the west coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, and is currently based in Salt Lake City. She graduated with a Master’s in Dietetic Administration from USU and became a Registered Dietitian. Jaqueline almost majored in engineering, however sitting in front of a computer all day crunching numbers and solving problems did not seem appealing, so she switched to food and people, which she loves. However, ironically, she still sits in front of a computer most days, crunching numbers and solving problems. Teaching people about how easily they can adapt their current routines to make them more nutritious is a passion for Jaqueline. Since she teaches people about how to make changes in their food, she often experiments. Ask anyone in her office —  they love sample days!  




What’s in Season? Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Seasonal EatingKeep your menu plan fresh with seasonal fruits and vegetables — even in wintertime! We’ve got a recipe roundup for you, plus two new recipes at the end; one for pineapple pear crisp and the other for balsamic and bacon Brussels sprouts. Tune in to Studio 5 on Monday to see Live Well Utah Editor Marta Nielsen demonstrate these new recipes with Brooke Walker.


Eating in season is something we think about in the summertime when our gardens are bursting with raspberries, tomatoes, peaches and zucchini, but you can eat in season all year long! Stores may carry out-of-season foods in the winter, but you’ll usually find lower prices and higher quality produce when you shop in season.

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It’s easy to keep winter-season fruits like apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and pears on your counter for healthy snacking. Pineapple and pomegranate are also in season, and can be purchased already prepped and ready to eat, or you you can save on costs and do your own prep-work and keep the ready-to-eat fruit in the fridge. If you have healthy food options visible and accessible, you’re more likely to make healthy choices!

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There are also many vegetables that are in season in the winter, such as avocados, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash. These veggies work perfectly for those warm-me-up foods we love to eat in the winter like soup, or oven-roasted veggies.

Try these recipes that use winter fruits and vegetables:

Snacks and Treats:

Salads and Sides:

Main Dishes:

Pineapple Pear Crisp

This gingery crisp is a little bit tropical, but still a warm-the-belly kind of dessert that is perfect for colder months. This recipe maximizes the sweetness and flavor of the fruit with minimal added sugar and oil, and uses hearty whole grains in the topping. Serve it topped with frozen yogurt for added decadence. Serves 6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe pears*
  • 2 c ripe pineapple (about ½ a pineapple)
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • 2 T brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1 t freshly grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)

For the topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 3 T melted butter (or coconut oil for added tropical flavor)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Chop pineapple into ½-inch pieces and set aside in a medium-sized mixing bowl (be sure to get all the pineapple juice left from cutting and chopping into the bowl). Peel, core and chop pears into ½-inch pieces, and mix with pineapple. Add cinnamon, brown sugar (or honey) and fresh ginger to the fruit, and stir so that it is coated evenly. Transfer fruit to a 9×9 baking dish.

To prepare topping, mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well combined. Add melted butter, and stir until mix loosely holds together. Spoon crumble mix evenly over fruit, and bake for 30 minutes. Cover crumble with foil, to prevent over-browning, and bake an additional 5 minutes (or until pears are tender).

*Be sure to use ripe pears. Unripe pears will not soften sufficiently when baked. Bosc and D’anjou pears work nicely in this recipe.

Bacon and Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

This out-of-this-world Brussels sprouts recipe will convert even the most skeptical taste testers.The Brussels sprouts are are roasted, tossed with a zesty balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with bacon crumbles and pomegranate arils—what’s not to love? Recipe serves 4 generously.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (approximately 1 small pomegranate)

Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t maple syrup
  • ½ t prepared mustard (Dijon or whole grain)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place bacon on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy. When bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from baking sheet and set aside. Brush around rendered bacon fat to evenly coat lined baking sheet, and drain off any excess (this will enhance the flavor of the Brussels sprouts as they roast).

Meanwhile, prepare Brussels Sprouts by trimming the ends and cutting in half. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt and pepper. Next, evenly arrange Brussels sprouts, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet used to cook the bacon. Roast for 20 minutes, or until sprouts are easily pierced with a fork. For smaller Brussels sprouts, 20 minutes will yield sprouts cooked soft all the way through. If you prefer a little crunch left in your vegetables, check doneness at 15 minutes.

While Brussels sprouts roast, crumble the cooked bacon and prepare the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring. If you are seeding your own pomegranate, versus buying the arils alone, you can also do this while the Brussels sprouts roast.

Transfer roasted Brussels sprouts to a serving dish, and top with balsamic dressing. Stir until evenly distributed, and top with crumbled bacon and pomegranate arils.


marta-nielsen-web2Marta Nielsen is the editor of Live Well Utah. She did not attend Utah State University (she graduated from another university whose colors are red and white), but loves working for USU Extension. Marta loves to cook and eat, garden, craft, travel, and read. She makes specialty cakes for family and friends as a hobby, and has been talked into making a few wedding cakes in the past. She and her husband have two small children, and live in Salt Lake County.

See more contributor bios here.

 




A New Year, a New You: Strategies to Simplify Your Life in the Kitchen

simplify your kitchen.jpgHave you made the goal to simplify your life in the new year? Try these strategies to simplify your life in the kitchen.


Organize

Keep shelf-stable items and utensils that you frequently use visible in the kitchen. Move spices you use often to the front of the cabinet and invest in a tiered tower or spice rack so everything is visible at once. Store dry goods such as flour, sugar, grains, and beans in airtight glass jars or plastic containers on the counter or on a visible row of the pantry. Store cooking utensils in a holder on the counter or in a drawer next to the stove (Bittman, 2014).

Stock Up

Having basic pantry, refrigerator, and freezer staples on hand can make it much easier to throw together a quick dinner. If the thought of purchasing all of the items at once seems overwhelming, add a few items to your list each week and in a couple of months, you will be set. Here is a basic list to get you started (Bittman, 2014):

  • Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and/or vegetable oil
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red wine or sherry, and/or white wine
  • Dried herbs and spices – salt, black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, sage, rosemary, tarragon, dill, basil, and thyme
  • Dried grains – brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, dried whole-wheat pasta
  • Dried and/or canned beans – garbanzo, black, kidney, navy, and/or cannellini
  • Canned tomato products – tomato paste, canned tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole)
  • Nut butters*
  • Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
  • Flours – whole-wheat white flour, white flour, cornmeal
  • Baking soda, baking powder
  • Nuts and seeds* (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Chicken and/or vegetable stock or bullion

*refrigerate to preserve quality

In addition, stock up on frozen vegetables – corn, mixed vegetables, peas, spinach, edamame – and fruit when items are on sale.

Plan Ahead

Planning several days or a week of meals at once may seem like an overwhelming task, but once you get into the routine, you will likely find it saves a great deal of time. There will be less trips to the grocery store and less time spent thinking about what’s for dinner.

Tips to get started:

  • Ask your family for favorite meal ideas.
  • Start small. Select one or two recipes you know how to make and add one or two new recipes per week.
  • Need help choosing recipes? Think about your weekly schedule. Are there going to be late nights at work or sports games to attend? If so, you may want to plan a slow cooker meal or a meal you can remake from leftovers for this busy night. Look at what is on sale at your local grocery store and consider what produce is in season, which means it will likely be less expensive.
  • Gather your recipes for the week and create a grocery list. First, check to see which items you already have at home. Include the other ingredients on a list. Organize your list according to the sections of the grocery store: produce, dairy, meat/seafood, dry goods/spices, and the freezer section.
  • Make notes about which recipes your family likes and dislikes. After a month or so, you’ll have a substantial list you can use to create a rotating meal schedule and you can add in new recipes if you choose to.
  • Visit Choosemyplate.gov for more grocery shopping and meal planning tips.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

  • Grains: Double a batch of grains, such a rice. Immediately separate, cool, and refrigerate the extra portion. Use the leftovers the next night in a stir-fry or casserole.
  • Meat/Protein: Roast extra chicken, pork, or beef. Use it the next night in a soup, tacos, or green salad.
  • Beans: Cook extra beans and use the leftovers for bean burritos or taco bowls.
  • Roasted vegetables: Roast extra vegetables and use the leftovers for a pureed soup or hearty vegetable stew. Or try roasted vegetable tacos or a roasted vegetable grain bowl topped with nuts, seeds, or crumbled cheese.

Remember to follow food safety rules for leftovers. 

  • Cool and refrigerate food in shallow containers promptly (within 2 hours of cooking).
  • Cold food should be stored at 40 F or lower.
  • Discard refrigerated leftovers after 3-4 days.
  • Remember to label and date frozen items. Store frozen items in containers such as gallon freezer bags or freezer grade plastic or glass containers and ensure that your freezer remains at 0 F or less.
  • Thaw frozen items in the refrigerator or microwave. Never thaw food on the kitchen counter or at room temperature.
  • Remember to reheat all leftovers to 165 F throughout.
  • Visit Foodsafety.gov for recommended freezer and refrigerator storage times or the National Center for Home Preservation’s Guide to Freezing Prepared Foods for more information on freezing leftovers. Additional information from the USDA on food safety and leftovers can be found here.

This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

References:

  1. Bittman, M. (2014). How to cook everything fast. New York: Double B Publishing, Inc.
  2. Kitchen Timesavers. (2017). In Choosemyplate.gov. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-time-savers.
  3. Leftovers and Food Safety. (2013). In United States Department of Agriculture

Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/leftovers-and-food-safety/ct_index.

 




Ask an Expert // Safety First During the Holidays

Holiday Safety Graphic.jpgThe holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s important to keep safety in mind so you can avoid accidents and injuries. Consider these tips. 


Toy Safety

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 260,000 children were treated in emergency rooms in the United States for toy-related injuries in 2016 and 2015. Tips for selecting toys:

  1. Consider the age recommendations on the toy, combined with the child’s skill set and interests.
  2. Check out all safety labels to see if the item is flame retardant, flame resistant, washable, non-toxic, etc.
  3. Be sure to check warning labels for choking hazards and other concerns. The toilet paper roll test is a good one to use. If the item fits through a toilet paper roll tube, it is probably a choking hazard.
  4. Inspect all toys for sharp points, edges, materials used (glass, metal, brittle plastics) and any removable parts that may pose a hazard if lost or removed. Before giving toys with these hazards, carefully consider the child’s age, as well as the ages of younger siblings. This can be a particular problem with game pieces and parts that are safe for older family members, but could be dangerous if left around for babies and toddlers to find.
  5. Provide proper safety equipment such as helmets and knee pads for bikes, scooters, skateboards, etc.
  6. Are there strings, cords or ribbons that have the potential to cause strangulation? Long cords on pull toys could be a problem, as well as hanging mobiles in cribs and playpens.
  7. If paints, crayons or art markers are on your list, look on the packaging for “ASTM D-4236.” This means the product has been properly reviewed for potentially toxic contents.
  8. Inspect toys for damage and make repairs if needed. Keeping toys, play equipment and protective gear in good repair will also help protect children from injury.
  9. To receive notices of recalls, visit www.recalls.gov. If you think you may have a toy in your home that has been recalled, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website at www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go to www.SaferProducts.gov or call the CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772. You can also obtain news releases and recall information on Twitter @OnSafety or by subscribing to the CPSCs free email newsletters.

 

Electrical Safety

This time of year, there are far too many house fires associated with electrical mishaps. When buying and using decorations with electricity, consider these reminders:

  1. Only buy electrical equipment that displays a label showing a nationally recognized safety testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
  2. Be sure to buy decorations and extension cords according to your intended use, whether outdoors or indoors.
  3. Do not overload extension cords and multi-plug power strips, and do not chain them together.
  4. Check for cords that are worn out, frayed or split.
  5. Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation.
  6. Do not remove the ground pin, use a converter to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet.
  7. Keep outdoor extension cords clear of snow and standing water.
  8. Send warranty and product registration forms to manufacturers in order to be notified promptly in the event of a product recall.
  9. Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings.
  10. If you have old Christmas lights, consider buying new ones. Newer options will meet much higher safety standards.
  11. Don’t let children play with lights, as they could swallow the bulbs, and remember to switch off the lights when going out of the house or to bed.
  12. Consider LED lights. They generate less heat — which translates into greater energy-efficiency, but they are also less of a fire risk. LEDs are made with epoxy lenses rather than glass and are much more durable.
  13. If you have an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant.
  14. Be wise and cautious when using space heaters, and make sure smoke alarms are working.

 

Food Safety

While our food supply is one of the safest in the world, some 76 million people a year get sick from food-borne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Consider these food safety tips:

  1. Clean – hands, cutting boards, tools, etc.
  2. Separate – keep raw meats away from other foods, and use separate cutting boards for raw food.
  3. Cook properly – cook foods to the right temperatures, and use a thermometer. Reheat leftovers to 165 F.
  4. Chill – chill food promptly and properly. Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless they are refrigerated. Quickly cool down large batches of soups, stews, etc., and store them in shallow pans. Thaw meats in the refrigerator.
  5. Be especially careful of higher risk foods, such as raw eggs. Eating cookie dough is probably not a wise idea, and neither is drinking homemade eggnog if the eggs used have not been pasteurized (find more tips on safe eggnog).

For further information, visit www.foodsafety.gov.


This article was written by Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator, 801-399-8200




More on Cooking for One or Two

Cooking for One or TwoDid you see our tips for cooking for one or two people last week? Here are a few more tips to help you cook food that is delicious and nutritious, and to cut down on wasted food.


Rethink your recipes.

Most recipes that serve four or more can be easily converted to produce a smaller quantity; however, having knowledge of kitchen measurements can be helpful for those tricky conversions that are not as straightforward.

Keep these recipe measurement conversions in mind:

1 cup 16 tbsp.
1 tbsp. 3 tsp.
1 cup 8 fluid ounces
1 fluid ounce 2 tbsp.
1 pint 2 cups
1 quart 2 pints

For example, to make half of a recipe, you would substitute the following:

Recipe Calls For: Use:
1/4 cup 2 tbsp.
1/3 cup 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp.
3/4 cup 6 tbsp.
1 tbsp. 1 1/2 tsp.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Having a plan for leftovers can be a great way to increase variety in your eating, reduce boredom and eliminate food waste.

For example, a one-pan, roasted vegetable and chicken dish makes an easy first meal and the components can be used in a variety of ways for leftovers.

Sample Recipe: Honey Mustard Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

Roasting a pan of vegetables at the beginning of the week can be an easy way to add in extra vegetables over the next couple of days. Leftover vegetables can be frozen for use at a later time. Here are some ideas for using leftover roasted vegetables:

  • Make roasted vegetable tacos. This recipe includes black beans for an inexpensive protein source, and the Mexican flavor profile mixes things up.
  • Create a roasted vegetable + leafy green + whole grain + flavorful toppings bowl. Leafy greens include spinach, kale or mixed salad greens. Try whole grains such as quinoa, farro or brown rice, and add crunchy or flavorful toppings such feta or blue cheese crumbles, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and/or walnuts and a vinaigrette dressing. Try this farro roasted root vegetable bowl.

Similarly, there are many uses for leftover roasted chicken.

  • Add roasted chicken to a soups or to a mixed greens salad.
  • Or, try the leftovers in chicken salad. This honey mustard chicken salad uses a similar flavor profile to the original sheet pan recipe. Substitute 2 tbsp. of light mayonnaise + 2 tbsp. non-fat Greek yogurt for the ¼ cup regular mayonnaise and you’ll pack in extra nutrition without sacrificing flavor.

Keep Food Safety in Mind

  • Remember to use good food safety practice when handling leftovers.
  • To start, food should initially be cooked to proper temperatures. Visit Food Safety.gov to find the proper cooking temperatures for various foods.
  • To cool cooked foods faster, place them in a shallow dish no more than 2 inches deep, and refrigerate promptly. (Foods should be kept in the temperature danger zone (40º-140ºF), or the temperature range that promotes bacterial growth, for less than two hours total.)
  • Never put warm foods directly in the freezer. Instead, cool them in the refrigerator and then put in the freezer.
  • Reheat all leftovers to 165 F. Stir food as it is reheating to make sure it is being heated thoroughly throughout, and test the final temperature with a food thermometer.
  • Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator to make sure the temperature remains at 40 F or below.
  • Refrigerated leftovers should be eaten within 3-4 days or discarded. Frozen leftovers can be kept for a few months, depending on the type of food. Visit Food Safety.gov to find the recommended times to store different foods in the refrigerator or freezer.

This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

References:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
  2. Henneman A. (2012). Planning Healthy Meals for One or Two – A Checklist. University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension. Retrieved from https://food.unl.edu/documents/Cookingfor1or2.pdf
  3. Allen R. Cooking for One or Two. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from http://www.frontierdistrict.k-state.edu/health-nutrition/food-preparation/docs/Health%20Nutrition%20Cooking%204%20One%20Or%20Two.pdf
  4.     Henneman A. Reducing the Size of Recipes. University of Nebraska Lincoln. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Retrieved from https://food.unl.edu/reducing-size-recipes-0
  5.     McEntire JC. (2011). Handle Leftovers with Care. FoodSafety.gov website. Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/leftovers.html
  6.   FoodSafety.gov. Storage Times for the Freezer and Refrigerator. Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html