Blog post written by Madeline Jurek, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Pushing a full cart headed towards the grocery checkout line can be intimidating. We continue to see grocery prices rising due to inflation. One way to save money while grocery shopping is buying in bulk. Buying a large quantity of a food item at once rather than only purchasing one or two items when needed can save big bucks in the long run. Bulk buys can be beneficial for both large and small households. As with anything there are pros and cons to this art of grocery shopping. Fortunately, with a little planning, bulk buying can save you bulk money!
Where to Start
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about buying in bulk is probably wholesale stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and the like. The disadvantage to these stores is that you need to pay a membership fee to shop there. Stores like Walmart and Kroger offer some food items in bulk at great prices too. Paying attention to the “per unit/ounce” area on the price tag will show the money you’re saving when buying in bulk.
Image from www.mainesnap-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Unit-Price-poster_revised-3.19.19_Page_1.png
Other stores like Fresh Thyme have a bulk pantry section where you can self-serve the amount of a product you would like to purchase. Buying items like nuts, seeds, or oats, from this section is often cheaper than buying prepackaged items. Buying in bulk this way also helps out the environment by reducing the amount of plastic packaging waste.
Image from www.freshthyme.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/bulk_3.jpg
Items to Buy in Bulk
Some popular items to purchase in bulk include:
These items are great choices to buy in bulk because they stay safe to eat for long periods of time. However, the most important part about this shopping strategy is planning! Only purchase items in bulk that you know you will use. If you or your household doesn’t love to eat rice, then do not add it to your bulk buy shopping list. One of the hidden dangers of buying foods in large quantities is food waste due to not eating the food before it goes bad. This will defeat the purpose of saving money because you will lose money in the food you’re tossing in the garbage can.
Other Benefits of Bulk Buying
Image from www.noracooks.com/nourish-bowl-vegan-meal-prep/
Bulk Ingredient Recipe Ideas
Things to Remember
Now that you’re well versed in buying in bulk, don’t forget to always start with planning. Be sure before you buy a bulk item that you’re prepared to use it all before it goes bad. Keep a couple of staple recipes in mind while shopping for your bulk buys. Ensure you have all other necessary ingredients for the recipes before starting to cook. If you need some new ideas, use the "Search by Ingredient" tool here on the NutritionHub website to find recipes that use your bulk ingredients!
Blog post written by Jamie Dewig, IUPUI Dietetic Intern, CPT, CYI
Food is fun, but only when it is safe. There are many ways to keep food safe and to know when food is beginning to expire. April is a perfect time to do some spring cleaning and prepare your kitchen for a healthier lifestyle. April is also a time of celebration as Easter rolls around. Follow these tips for finding, storing, prepping, and serving food to make sure that everyone stays safe and can enjoy the approaching spring weather!
Image from www.gianteagle.com/seasonal/april-hub/easter-dinner
Shopping for and Harvesting Food
Image from www.ppmco.org/health-and-wellness/health-education
Safe Food Storage
Image from worldcentralkitchen.blogspot.com
Image from www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/clean-and-organize/how-to-organize-kitchen-pantry
Image from jagwire.augusta.edu
Safely Sharing and Serving Food
Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings. If you are not currently using these tips, now could be the perfect time to incorporate them into your lifestyle! Reorganizing and cleaning up can give you such a refreshed feeling and make your space feel like new. Keeping your food and spaces for food clean and organized will help to ensure a safe and efficient environment for meals. I hope these tips are helpful - don’t forget to have fun!
For more resources and information, visit these websites:
Blog post written by Hallie Little, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Image from www.vanwell.net/pollination
National Pear Month...Why Care?
Did you know that December is National Pear Month? If you are anything like me, you probably don’t eat pears very often. But fear not, you will be a pear expert after reading this post!
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American only consumes about 0.9 cups of fruit a day. This falls short of the 1.5-2.5 cup recommendation set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you have never tried pears, they may be a fun, new way to increase your fruit intake!
All About Pears
Pears grow on trees. About 88% of pears in the US are grown in Washington and Oregon. They grow best in this region due to its volcanic soil, clean mountain water, warm spring days, and cool nights. They are in season from August-October, making them a great choice for a budget-friendly fall fruit. Below are some different varieties you may want to try. The Bartletts are the most popular and common in the United States.
Image from www.sujajuice.com
One medium pear has about 100 Calories. It also provides:
Image from galafruit.net
Gut Health: Pears can help improve your gut health. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Fiber can help improve bowel regularity as well as soften and bulk up stool. Soluble fiber in pears also serves as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
Rich in Antioxidants: Antioxidants can help to decrease inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation increases your risk for chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease. Eating fruits (like pears 😊) and veggies regularly can help decrease your risk for chronic disease.
If you are buying fresh pears, you should be aware that they may be hard, green, and unripe. However, pears ripen best off the tree. Just like bananas ripen off the tree over time, pears will ripen (and soften) when left on the countertop. The pear should be slightly soft, but not squishy. Once the pear is ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator.
You can also find pears in the canned fruit section. If possible, it’s better to buy pears canned in juice. Pears canned in syrup will have more added sugars.
Image from kroger.com
5 Ways to Enjoy Pears
Image from www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
All in all, pears are a delicious way to incorporate more fruit into your diet. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Let us know in the comments section how you plan to celebrate National Pear Month!
Hi! My name is Olivia Vosmeier, a dietetic intern at Purdue University. For my 3-week community nutrition rotation, I had the pleasure of being placed at Gleaners Food Bank.
During my time at Gleaners, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of ways we can all reduce and prevent food waste in our homes, minimizing the effects of food insecurity in our communities. I am excited to share some helpful facts, tips, and recipes that you can incorporate into your lives to not only protect our Earth, but also our wallets!
Did you know that about 90 billion pounds of food goes uneaten and thrown away every year? This amounts to about $370 per person each year, with the majority of the money coming from wasted protein foods, vegetables, and dairy items. With all the food that is being wasted, significant amounts of nutrients are being lost as well. On average, 1,217 calories, 146 grams of carbohydrates, 33 grams of protein, and 57 grams of total fat are wasted per person per day. This is the same as throwing away a meal which consists of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, Caesar salad, cooked broccoli, mozzarella sticks, Pepsi, and Tiramisu!
So, what can you do to help reduce and prevent food waste?
Photo from www.eco-business.com/news/global-standard-to-measure-food-waste-aims-to-put-more-on-plates/
How to Write a Grocery List
To write an effective grocery list, it is important to begin by setting a budget. This saves you from spending money on items that you may not necessarily need. It’s also a great idea to plan out your meals for the week by looking at the food items you already have along with looking at the weekly grocery ads for any coupons, sales, or promotions going on that week. Lastly, organizing your list by different areas of the store is beneficial for reducing your time spent in the store.
Understanding Dates Applied to Packages
There are many common phrases that we see on packages that suggest how long the food item is good for. Phrases such as “best if used by”, “sell-by”, “use-by”, etc. are placed on food packaging for an estimate of when the product is at its peak quality or flavor. However, there is a lot of confusion around these phrases, resulting in many wholesome foods being thrown away. In fact, these food dates are not used for the safety of the products, but rather the overall quality of the item. When a package says, “best if used by” or “use-by”, it is still perfectly safe to use or consume after this date. “Sell-by” labels are primarily used by the stores to know how long the product should be displayed or on sale.
Repurposing Leftovers by Trying New Recipes
Many times, leftovers are thrown away because they become boring, or the appearance and texture may change, making them less desirable to eat. One option for using these items instead of throwing them away is to try out a recipe that specifically uses leftover ingredients. These recipes are a great place to start:
Need more ideas? Click here to search for recipes that use specific ingredients you already have on hand!
Turning Scraps of Fruits and Veggies into Compost
A great way to turn food scraps into usable material is by composting! This saves from adding to our already very full landfills, reducing methane gas emissions into our atmosphere. Composting consists of a chemical process which turns plant material into usable, organic soil or mulch. Composting enriches the soil, helps it to retain moisture, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and overall reduces our carbon footprint!
Through this experience, I learned that there are so many easy ways that I can practice reducing my food waste. Here is a short video along with a handout that you can watch for more information on reducing and preventing food waste. For more nutrition and cooking tips, click through the NutritionHub website, Facebook page, and Instagram page!
Hello! My name is Emily Korte and I am Gleaners’ 2021 Summer Nutrition Intern. Over the past few months, I have worked with Sarah Wilson, RDN to create and facilitate kids' nutrition education lessons for our Summer Nutrition Club (SNC) program. SNC was created in 2018 as a supplement to Gleaners' summer feeding program in Marion County. In addition to providing nutritious food to local families, we wanted to offer an interactive nutrition education opportunity to get youth excited about the impact food can have on their health and wellbeing.
COVID-19 has continued to impact every aspect of Gleaners’ operations and SNC was no exception. To ensure the safety of our community, virtual and in-person lessons were offered to our partners. We were very fortunate that three sites welcomed us back in-person (while wearing masks and being socially distanced of course), and a fourth virtually. It was wonderful to once again hear all the giggles, watch faces fill with joy, and share a passion for learning in-person together. I am very grateful for this amazing experience and am looking forward to becoming a Registered Dietitian in the future!
Emily Korte, Summer Nutrition Intern, with Rainforest Energy Bites.
In the past, the SNC lessons focused on the five food groups of MyPlate, making healthy choices, and general health and wellness. This year’s lessons followed the same model while also incorporating new themes to encourage exploration. All of the recipes required no baking, contained simple ingredients, and featured kid-friendly cooking concepts to allow for their participation. These themes were brought to life through fun and engaging activities in each of the three weekly lessons.
In a world where we are so often told "no", we were able to tell the children "YES". Yes, you can try a new food! Yes, you make your own snack! Yes, you can sometimes have sweet treats! I wanted the children to be open to learning about new cultures, new ideas, and new foods. I wanted them to be able to experience Asia, the Amazon rainforest, and space, all without even leaving Indianapolis. My goal was for participants to gain independence, confidence, and knowledge about how they can positively impact their health. This summer, all of this and more was accomplished at Summer Nutrition Club!
The recipes, learning concepts, and themes that were covered in this year's program included:
1. MyPlate Around the World - Introduced foods found across Asia and where they fit in MyPlate, featured a highlight on how to use chopsticks, and made Cucumber "Sushi" Roll-Ups
SNC "Nutrition Explorers" try eating their Cucumber Roll-Ups with chopsticks
2. It’s a Jungle Out There! - Introduced different sources of protein foods and whole grains, explored animals and the layers of the Amazon rainforest, and tried Rainforest Energy Bites
SNC participants roll their Rainforest Energy Bites into fun (and tasty) shapes
3. Discover Dairy - Introduced dairy foods and how scientists modify food so it can be eaten in space, featured an activity to promote physical activity, and made Astronaut Pudding
The SNC "Nutrition Explorers" thought the Astronaut Pudding was out of this world!
Each child that participated in SNC got to take home a reusable shopping bag filled with tools to help them continue being a "nutrition explorer". Items in the bag included a spatula, vegetable peeler, cutting board, colander, reusable storage bag, MyPlate, and more! The summer came to a close with a Family Cooking Night. Westminster Neighborhood Services welcomed us back to demonstrate how to prepare a meal that the whole family could enjoy. The featured recipes were Veggie Quesadillas and Chunky Mango Pico. This meal supplies a serving of all five food groups and is quick, easy, and affordable to prepare. I demonstrated how to cut all fruits and vegetables including mango, zucchini, pepper, onion, jalapeno, and cucumber. I also provided general cooking tips. Westminster provided ingredients to each family in attendance so they could make the recipes at home. Gleaners supplemented these items with fresh produce and kitchen utensils for each household, as well as a few raffle prizes to give away!
Emily prepares samples for Family Cooking Night
The summer of 2021 certainly brought a unique set of challenges. However, due to assistance from Gleaners’ staff, my wildest dreams were able to come to life to make Summer Nutrition Club a success. I learned more from the children this summer than any nutrition textbook could teach me. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and hope my small input can make a larger impact on the health and wellbeing of this community!
Gleaners’ 2020 and 2021 SNC lesson content is available year-round on the Summer Nutrition Club page for anyone interested - feel free to check it out and share with others!
Thank you to all the wonderful community sites who hosted us for Summer Nutrition Club this year!
Blog post written by Elizabeth Kuras, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Warm weather offers the perfect setting for a get-together with friends and family. While enjoying the fresh air and tasty summer cuisine, it is important to keep basic food safety in mind. Every year, health officials see a summer spike in foodborne illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Foodborne illnesses are caused by eating spoiled foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing bacteria can infect foods, so there are many different types of foodborne illnesses that cause symptoms similar to the stomach flu. By following these five food safety tips, we can enjoy outdoor picnics and barbecues with our loved ones while keeping everyone safe.
Image from www.ecowatch.com/healthy-summer-cookout-2587570276.html
1. Proper Handwashing
Handwashing should always be the first step in cooking food, and should be done often, especially after coming in contact with raw meat, fish, or eggs. Simply wiping your hands on a towel isn’t enough. To kill harmful germs, you must wash your hands with warm, soapy water, rub for at least 20 seconds, then dry your hands with a single-use paper towel.
2. Be Cautious of Cross-Contamination
Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. For example, do not slice your watermelon on the same cutting board that just held raw hamburger patties. It is a good idea to use color-coded cutting boards to prevent this – use a red cutting board for raw meat, and a green one for fresh fruits and vegetables that are ready-to-eat. Wash the cutting boards in hot, soapy water after use.
Also, make sure you are not cross-contaminating food with your utensils or plates. As soon as you put raw items on the grill, get a clean plate or serving dish ready for when the items are done. You should also pay attention to the utensils used while grilling – those tongs you used to place the raw burgers on the grill could contain harmful germs, which could spread to the fully cooked burgers being pulled off the grill. It is not safe to use the same plate or utensils you originally used to place raw items on the grill, unless they have been fully washed and sanitized.
Image from www.insider.com./best-way-to-grill-mistakes-2018-6
3. Cook Food to the Proper Temperature
When grilling meat, you can’t tell if it’s done by simply looking at color and texture alone. Cooking food safely requires it to reach a safe internal temperature, which is the temperature hot enough to kill harmful germs that can cause foodborne illness. Food thermometers are fairly cheap and are useful if you plan on throwing an outdoor party or two this summer!
The target temperatures to remember are 165 °F for poultry, casseroles and leftovers. Ground meats and egg dishes need to be cooked to at least 160 °F. Fresh beef, pork, veal, lamb and ham should reach 145 °F and then rest for at least three minutes. Fish and seafood (all types) should be cooked to 145°F. Hot foods should be held at or above 145°F.
Image from www.southernliving.com/kitchen-assistant/best-grill-thermometers
4. Keep Cold Foods Cold, and Hot Foods Hot
When cold/hot food is left out at room temperature, the general rule is place it into the fridge within 2-4 hours. In the hot summer months when the temperature outside is over 90°F, food should only be left out for 1 hour or less. This prevents the temperature of the food reaching the “danger zone,” which ranges from 40°F to 140°F. When food is in this temperature range, it causes germs to grow at a fast pace, which may cause foodborne illness. During cookouts or other outdoor events, it is common practice to place food on a table and have guests graze the food when they want. However, this can put people at risk for eating unsafe foods.
To avoid this, keep cold food in the refrigerator and place it on the table (in the shade) right before the meal begins. You can also serve cold foods inside to keep them out of the summer heat. Another great idea is to use a cooler or shallow pan filled with ice to keep your cold food less than 40°F. For hot foods, keep your grilled items on the grill (away from direct heat) to keep them warm or store them in an container.
5. Consume Leftovers in 3-4 Days
At the end of your party, chances are you’ll have some leftover food. Place it in the refrigerator ASAP in a sealed container. Consume all leftovers in 3-4 days tops, and remember to cook leftovers to 165°F, or until steaming hot.
Image from canva.com
Grilling out with loved ones is a classic summer activity enjoyed by many. Use these five tips, and you’ll have delicious and safely prepared food all season long, with peace of mind knowing your friends and family will be protected from foodborne illness. For additional information, visit FoodSafety.gov or download our "4 Bases of Food Safety" Handout.
I started by working with the Immigrant Welcome Center (IWC) in order to get a better idea of how COVID-19 has been impacting the immigrant population and what Gleaners can do to help. The IWC reported that 38% of the immigrant population surveyed considered themselves to have less food security compared to before the pandemic. With more data from the IWC, I looked into Marion County zip codes with the highest numbers of immigrants reporting a need for food or rental assistance. This was an important step in my initial research that helped us better understand where immigrants are located and what resources are currently available to them. I continued by looking into how many American grocery stores, international grocery stores, convenience stores, food pantries, and food deserts are in these areas.
I also talked to IWC Natural Helpers (immigrants who volunteer to assist other immigrants), read research articles on food insecurity and food pantries pertaining to immigrant populations, and joined the IWC weekly partner calls. Through all of this information-gathering, I learned that there are several barriers that many immigrants face in consistently accessing nutritious foods. These include:
Image from IWC
These barriers fall into three categories:
All three categories of barriers must be addressed in order to create stable and sustainable solutions to food insecurity among immigrants.
What I learned from this experience:
From my background research, I learned that increasing access to foods that are familiar to immigrant households is crucial for improving food security among this population. I explored some ways that Gleaners might be able to partner with international grocery stores to increase the availability of culturally and religiously appropriate foods at pantries. I decided to visit an international grocery store myself to see how the selection of foods might differ from what is typically available at a traditional "American" grocery store. Watch the video below for a 30-second tour of the Saraga International Food Market that I visited on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
There were two key differences that stood out to me from my visit:
Images from Allison Drook and saragaindy.com
Exploring New Foods:
Wanting to look into more about foods from other cultures, I ended up buying some Fufu flour from the international market. This food comes from Nigerian culture and contains some of their staple foods: mashed plantain, potato granules, cassava, saffron and turmeric. I chose to focus on this culture because Nigeria is listed as one of the top countries of origin for immigrants served by the IWC, and I was not familiar with many of the common foods in this cuisine. Watch the video below to see how easy Fu Fu dough is to make!
Click the links below to view the other recipes and handouts that I made during this rotation. These were all designed to help immigrants utilize the foods they might receive from food pantries, as well as to introduce some new cultural dishes to anyone who likes to explore different cuisines!
I am excited to see how Gleaners continues this collaborative and important work! Some next steps for Gleaners and IWC include exploring ways to source more culturally appropriate foods and spices, helping agency pantries be more welcoming and inclusive of immigrant clients, and translating recipes and educational resources in different languages. Stay up-to-date on the progress of this project and other nutrition outreach programs by visiting the NutritionHub website, Facebook page, and Instagram account regularly!
Hi everyone! My name is Lydia Conner, and I am the Summer Nutrition Intern at Gleaners Food Bank for the second year in a row. This summer was much different from the last two years of Summer Nutrition Club due to COVID-19. To keep everyone safe, Gleaners staff and partnering sites tried out virtual programming for the first time. While it has been a unique summer, this has been a valuable experience for me as I take my next steps toward becoming a dietitian.
Lydia Conner, Summer Nutrition Intern, with one of this year's tasty recipes
Over the past few months, I have been working with Sarah Wilson, Gleaners’ Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to navigate lesson content creation. Last summer’s lessons were focused on the five food groups of MyPlate, trying new fruits and vegetables, and interactive group activities.
This year’s lessons built upon those concepts to involve children and families in growing fruits and vegetables, choosing healthy options, and preparing balanced meals together. Each of the three lessons featured kid-friendly cooking skills and healthy recipes that used foods from the Gleaners family meal boxes and produce boxes. As a bonus, the kids had the chance to follow along in weekly garden updates of my family’s garden, and I was able to show them how to incorporate some of our fresh produce into the recipes!
This child from Westminster Neighborhood Center was excited about participating in Summer Nutrition Club!
The recipes for each week were:
The lessons also included basic garden care tips, a Fruit & Vegetable Musical Chairs Game, and a Plant & Animal Protein Activity. Overall, the objectives were to show the children where some of their food can come from and encourage them to choose a variety of foods from each food group.
The summer came to a close with two Virtual Family Cooking Classes on Facebook Live: one on how to make zucchini boats and the other on how to make homemade pizza. My family had lots of zucchini coming out of our garden this summer, and it was put to great use for several different zucchini boat recipe variations. For the pizza recipe, I demonstrated how to make an easy homemade pizza dough, topping it with fresh veggies. The tomatoes and green peppers were fresh out of my family’s garden! I also provided tips for parents to include their children in the recipe preparation from preparing zucchini boats, measuring ingredients, topping the zucchini boats, and topping the pizzas.
The finished pizza from our second Virtual Family Cooking Class on Facebook Live
The recipes and recorded videos from each lesson and virtual family cooking class were posted on the Gleaners NutritionHub website and Facebook page. Links to this content were then emailed to each of the 30 Indianapolis community sites that received food boxes from Gleaners this summer. We were lucky to work with some wonderful site coordinators who went above and beyond to teach the lessons at their camps or send materials home with the family meal boxes!
Youth from Westminster Neighborhood Services had a blast with hands-on learning about gardening and cooking this summer!
While this summer was challenging to navigate at times, I am very grateful to have had the experience of communicating nutrition information virtually and contributing to the content on the new NutritionHub website. It will continue to be an amazing resource for the families that Gleaners serves, and Summer Nutrition Club material will now be available to anyone interested year-round!
March is National Nutrition Month®, a designated time to focus on building healthy habits “Bite by Bite” for improved nutrition and wellness. One simple way to start eating healthier at home is to make a weekly meal plan. This does not have to be complicated or expensive – a simple list of dinner ideas for most nights of the week is a great starting point!
Last week, Cooking Matters participants at Gleaners learned about tips for meal planning and shopping on a budget. The Cooking Matters program is offered quarterly at Gleaners’ on-site food pantry in partnership with Indy Hunger Network.
Cooking Matters participants proudly hold up their graduation gifts for completing the free 6-week course.
This particular lesson was taught by a Registered Dietitian and IUPUI dietetic intern. Here are some of the points they covered with the group:
Gleaners strives to promote the health of those we serve by providing a variety of nutritious, meal-making foods, offering healthy recipe ideas and nutrition education opportunities, and partnering with community organizations that offer other services our clients may need.
While a couple was volunteering at Gleaners’ Hamilton County Cupboard one day, they noticed something concerning: many shoppers were not taking the nutritious rice or dried beans being offered in the pantry because they simply did not know how to prepare these foods.
These volunteers wanted to do something to help. They reached out to Gleaners staff to donate and deliver 75 rice cookers that could be given to clients. Our Nutrition Manager, Pantry Manager, and Assistant Pantry Manager worked together to plan a 30-minute demo that would teach shoppers how to use a rice cooker to prepare beans, rice, and other nutritious foods from the pantry.
Nutrition Manager Sarah Huber, RDN, showed pantry shoppers
how to prepare healthy recipes with a rice cooker - samples included!
On February 10th, 30 clients packed the waiting area of the Hamilton County Cupboard to attend the rice cooker demo. Some had been excitedly looking forward to the session for weeks, and others were surprised to learn about it as they walked through the door. However, all of the attendees seemed very engaged in the topic, and many expressed their delight at being able to take home their very own rice cooker at the end.
After attending the class and finishing her pantry shopping, one woman stopped on her way out the door. Gesturing toward her new rice cooker atop a cart full of food, she said, “This was very interesting, thank you for taking the time to teach us. Come back again soon!”
Gleaners plans to use the remaining donated rice cookers as incentives for Cooking Matters participants (a program in partnership with Indy Hunger Network) and to potentially host another rice cooker demo in the future. We are grateful to these kind volunteers for their creative and generous donation – thank you for helping us serve our neighbors’ needs with more than just food!
Click here to view the rice cooker recipes that were shared with pantry shoppers.
Staff Registered Dietitians at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns