Making Fresh Groceries Last Longer

Every Wednesday I shop for groceries, mostly produce. While I try to use all of these up in a week, I want them to last beautifully until I use them.

Certain produce simply lasts longer if stored in certain conditions.

I knew this a little, but it wasn’t until I read The Waste Free Kitchen Handbook that I learned that I needed to store things in my refrigerator right (the know on a crisper drawer does what?!?) or that tomatoes should be on the counter unless cut. I can’t recommend this book enough, and mostly for the “How to Store” section in the back.

So…

The unloaded produce…

My new counter companions…

I put my peaches in a paper bag to soften. This is great for avocados too. Just put avocados in the fridge after they’re ripe.

Then I put garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes in the pantry. Onions make potatoes sprout, so they’re on opposite sides. I use metal magazine holders from IKEA. I saw that on Pinterest.

Then my fruit for the fridge drawer on low humidity (that slide thing means something!) with all of this, don’t wash anything until you’re ready to use it and it will last longer.

Then it’s time for the vegetables. This takes the most effort, but you can really make a “lasting” difference.

I separate radishes from their tops and placed them in a bag, actually cooking the greens in a crockpot with bacon grease for dinner. So tasty.

Lettuce gets stored in an airtight bag (the one it came in works if I squeeze out the air and tie it. It keeps longer with a paper towel on the core to keep it moist. This is all after I remove the twist tie that’s strangling the head.

Herbs can last like cut flowers on the counter, but I fail when I try this. I like the method of storing them in their bag, but keep it open and breathable. I put a dry paper towel with parsley and cilantro and wrap the roots of my green onions with a wet paper towel.

Storing my heavy things at the bottom with herbs on top, my vegetable drawer is packed to the brim, but not crushed.

There’s something so satisfying about caring for everything in your home, including the things you’ll eat soon.

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Kid Days

After reading a phase guide for each of my children’s current ages, I knew I needed to get more intentional in celebrating their uniqueness and interests.

If you’ve never seen a phase guide, it looks like this… I’ve saved the link on the picture, so if you click it you can learn more.

Our church’s children’s ministry uses the curriculum that is also made by the creators of these special parenting guides.

After writing down some notes on each of my kids’ interests I decided to do a special day with each of them.

In November my daughter and I went to a mall to be the first customers at a Charming Charlie accessories store, we also rode a double decker carousel (side note: taking a picture looking backwards while riding a carousel can lead to this mom getting motion sick.) We got personal MOD pizzas, I gave her my old digital camera and taught her basic photography, we got drinks at a cafe and brought a My Little Pony board game, then finished with a round of put put.

It was good, but exhausting. The next one, I decided would be much simpler.

My son and I spent a day in December at the St Louis Science Center.

I wanted to plan another day for each of them. His birthday is April 6th, so I dubbed the 6th or so of each month is a “Titus day.” In March we did Taco Bell, Monkey Joe’s, and McDonald milk shakes (only for Titus since I wasn’t through with Whole30.

I joined a class field trip on March 14 for my daughter whose birthday is December 14th. So from then on the 14th or so of each month has been declared “Elodie Day.”

Now each kid has a special day each month to look forward to and help plan. Their birthday months are covered already of course.

But on all other months, we do a few things that make each kid feel special. Last month Elodie Day involved going to IKEA with Daddy and getting a new light for her room. All four of us went to the science center on the 7th last month for Titus day.

We have enjoyed each time we focus on the special interests of our kids. Having an approximate day of each month gives us an easy way to set something up.

How about you? What’s one of your ways to spend individual focused time with each of your children?

Printable Kid’s Chore List

My daughter is 7.  I should have started this sooner, but at least I’m doing it now.  This is not a perfect system, and it still requires more enforcing than I’m currently doing.  Man, that’s a lot of disclaimers (I sure named my blog right), but this has made assigning chores and daily tasks work for us.

I made this document originally on Adobe InDesign, but I remade it in Word just for adding it to this post, so you can open it and edit it for your own kid.  If you click: Chore List, you’ll get the Word Document and you can change the chores or anything you want. (My fonts are Speedball no. 3 and Segoe Script if you want this exact look.)

It’s more of a daily routine with an extra chore at the bottom to be assigned each day.  The best part is, now in the morning I don’t have to say… “Did you…” or “You need to…”  All I say is, “Do your list,” and she goes through and marks it off as she goes.  It’s just put in an IKEA frame with a plastic front so dry erase markers work on it just fine.  If the marks get too dry then a damp cloth takes them right off.

You can look up chores your kid should be able to do by their age here. Happy parenting!

De-clutter with a Piñata

For the kids’ birthdays we’ve begun having piñatas. If you need a party game and you don’t want to make a bunch of goody bags for favors, this is a great two-birds one-stone.

It’s supposed to be a doughnut and my son’s favorite color is green. This was my first homemade piñata. I’ve always bought them before. I made it following the instructions on this page.

The best part…

I’ve got a use for leftover Halloween candy in December (daughter’s) and Easter candy in April (son’s). Plus, I keep a gallon size bag with the little plastic treat bag junk they get all year in the game closet…

Then, using my favorite jar funnel, I stuff it in the trap door…

Then my husband wraps the broomstick used as a lock on our sliding glass door, puts an eye hook in the beam, strings the piñata and we all back up.

Meat Portioning

I don’t always buy a lot of meat, especially before we’re going on vacation. But when Fresh Thyme opens a store near me and sells chicken and beef for waaay cheaper than usual, it’s worth it to stock my freezer.

I do this with all the meat I buy, so it was especially good to share when I had a lot to portion out.

All I do is separate portions with fold and seal sandwich bags, you know, the ones you buy by accident when you forget to double check if it’s a zipper top.

For chicken.. each breast and every one or two thighs are in their own fold and seal sandwich bag, then put in a freezer bag. This way I can thaw only what I need at a time.

But for ground meat, I weigh my portions. I go for 8 ounces in each sandwich bag then put them in a freezer bag. I love this scale. I zero out my meat then subtract my portions as I bag them.

Now my freezer is stocked and I can thaw what I need meal by meal.

I keep a pan in my fridge to prevent cross contamination as I thaw.

That frozen chicken’s gonna take a while.

Tanya’s Reading List

This is my friend Tanya.

We attend church together but I rarely see her there. Once a month I see her at book club, but lately I run in to her at Fresh Thyme on Double-Ad Wednesdays. So this picture captures her in her “natural habitat.”

In book club the host chooses the book, and I’ve always loved Tanya’s choices. She put together a list to read this year to diversify your reading.

Just 10 books. I ended up finishing my list last month mostly listening to audiobooks on my phone while cooking, doing chores and waiting in pick up line.

Same name as the author or character – Where’d you go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Written by a person of color – What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

A Classic – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Male Author – Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Historical Fiction – Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriani Trigiani

Non Fiction – Going Solo by Ronald Dahl

Takes place in an alternate universe – Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Asian location – I am Malala (takes place in Pakistan) by Malala Yousafzi

Made into a movie or tv series – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Liz Curtis Higgs – Bookends

One of my favorite was reading a book you share your name with the author or main character. I discovered Maria Semple for myself. The other was reading something by a person of color. From listening to Levar Burton, I first heard of Lesley Nneka Arimah. Her debut collection of short stories is crazy good. I loved Tanya’s list so much I think I’ll repeat it. I wanted to put it out here for any other friends. Most men read books authored by men and women read women. Being intentional to mix up who and what you read is so good to broaden your personal experience.

How about you? What’s your best off your stride reading you’ve done this year?

Trunk Box

This Friday schools celebrate Dr Seuss’ birthday. I remember when he passed away. I was checking out books at our local library and the librarian, tearing up, told me he had died. I asked how many books I was allowed to check out, returned what I intended to get, and instead maxed out my loans with all Dr Seuss books. I was 6 years old.

That was my first time doing something in memory and honor of someone special. Allow me to Seussify this post.

In my car I have a trunk

My trunk can hold a lot of junk

But when I store stuff in my trunk

I do not like it to go bump bump

So I keep a box in there

A trunk box for things to go nowhere

This box helps me get to my destination

With things still in good presentation.

Pack a pie, a plate, or casserole

This box is not mere folderol

My groceries fit snug without a crash

So eggs won’t crack and bread won’t smash

A box in your trunk is very good.

Have you a trunk box? You should.