August 23, 2014

Food Reconditioning: Is This Taking Frugal a Step Too Far?

Food reconditioning - heard of it? You may not want to know; ignorance is bliss .... 

Food reconditioning is not something that’s discussed much in food marketing campaigns much less referenced in grocery store advertising, but it’s real. And it sounds pretty horrible.

Food reconditioning is a way to maximize profits by re-purposing food that has not been sold because it’s past the expiration date, or it’s got some other problem. Like mold or bugs or something.   Yes, you read that right.  Insects.  Mold.  Food that's BAD and you wouldn't buy (and you'd return if you did).

I assumed this stuff got thrown out by my local HEB or Walmart or Target, but apparently NOT. Nope; instead there’s all this “food reconditioning” going on, in some dark and secret place.

The Food and Drug Administration knows all about it; it’s okay with the FDA, though the reconditioning has to conform with the FDA’s compliance policies.

What is Food Reconditioning?

Apparently, when the store pulls something from its shelves, that stuff isn’t trashed. It’s returned to the place it came from — and the supplier gets to deal with it.

Does the supplier toss it? Nope, they’re watching their bottom line and to toss that product means lost money. Instead, the supplier revamps that returned item into something else that can be sold back to the grocery store, and then sold to you.

Examples of food reconditioning include:

  • Chocolate ice cream that results from bad batches of other stuff because the strong flavor and dark brown color are good for hiding lots of things 
  • Applesauce that has been zapped with heat to remove the MOLD that had been in it before it was ‘reconditioned’ 
  • Rice and other grains repackaged and resold after being sifted to remove the insects and bugs that were discovered in it.

Frugal Food Reconditioning at Home 

Now, I’m all for food reconditioning at home. You betcha. That’s what leftovers are all about.

  • Leftover chicken breast becomes chicken salad; 
  • Meatloaf on Sunday turns into meatloaf sandwiches on Monday;
  • Old bread is great “reconditioned” into bread pudding; 
  • Bananas past their prime become banana nut bread or once frozen, the stuff of smoothies. 

But this idea that food suppliers are taking old food or yucky stuff that no one would buy at the get-go and re-purposing it into something else, without our knowledge and (of course) without any price reduction on the Altered State stuff — well, it sort creeps me out.

How about you?

July 21, 2014

Super Fast Bean Recipe: Cold White Bean Salad with Onions and Tomatoes

Here's one of my favorite bean salad recipes that I just shared one more time, so I thought I'd post it here on the blog.

Toss all this stuff together in a big bowl:

2  (14.5 oz) cans garbanzo beans (chick peas)
2  (14.5 oz) cans white kidney beans
1  (14.5 oz) can green beans
1 (14.5 oz) can sweet corn kernels
1 small can sliced black olives
1  red bell pepper chopped (throw in a yellow bell pepper, too, if you like them) 
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 celery stalks, chopped

Bragg’s Healthy Vinaigrette (1/2 bottle) (I'm including this product because it's what I use, not because I'm getting any compensation for it.  It's just yummy and good for you, too.)

Make sure that everything is stirred together really well and that the dressing has coated every tiny bit.  Then cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let this stuff chill in the fridge for several hours.  Overnight is even better.

Reba's Notes:  

This is so fast it’s ridiculous. Sure, you have to chill the stuff and that's a delay -- and the longer you can hold out while it sits in the fridge, the better it tastes.

Still, this is so easy that my dog can almost throw it together and I cannot tell you how really, REALLY GOOD this stuff tastes.

Having some sturdy and tasty corn tortilla chips along side never hurt anything, either.  Hint.

And, it's cheap, to boot.  Makes a big bowl for not much cash (even less if you opt out of the olives and make your own dressing).

Now, I know that canned beans are going to have that issue of coming out of a can and we’re being warned that canned food may be exposed to toxins in the can linings. 

That’s not good.

However, I don’t have it in me to cook up all these different varieties of beans from scratch and I’m risking it. (You can also buy BFA-free canned food, here's a list of those brands - example, Trader Joe's).

It’s like a bean salad addiction, I’m ignoring the dangers to get my fix. This stuff is that good, boy howdy.

January 2, 2014

Free Books by Beth Moore Offered This Week in Various EBook Formats

From now through January 10, 2014, you can get several of Beth Moore's books for free online in a variety of ebook formats.  

Details are here at Beth Moore's blog at Living Proof Ministries.  Her publisher's blog post has links to Kindle, Nook, etc. as well.

This limited offer is a great blessing to anyone interested in studying the Bible, but it's a special treat for those of us who enjoy and appreciate Beth Moore as a teacher.

Thanks Beth for this (and thanks to your publisher, too)!!!!  God is good!!!!

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

October 14, 2013

Food Expiration Dates: New Harvard Study Suggests Changes to Food Dating, Stop US Food Waste

Food expiration dates - I know I check the expiration dates on all my food packaging, how about you?

Not that I always respect that date; for example, “sell by” to me doesn’t mean much if I brought something home and immediately tossed it in the freezer. (Which is a great thing to do, by the way: buy something on sale, then freeze it until you’re ready to use it.)

Harvard University Study Reports Americans Waste 160 Billion Pounds of Food Every Year 

 A new research study has been published by Harvard University’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, entitled “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America.” (Click on the link to read the entire study online for free.)

 According to this new study, “[a]n estimated 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten,1 and according to even the most conservative estimates, Americans waste 160 billion pounds of food each year.” 

That is a heck of a lot of food  -- and a shameful amount of waste.

One of the big problems, according to these researchers? Food dating.

 Expiration dates on food in the United States are causing lots of good food to go to waste.

They are suggesting that lots of this waste could be stopped if the Food Dating system in the United States was standardized across various food industries as well as making the food labels we all read much easier to understand.

I agree. Making those food dates easier to understand would be a great thing. (Remember how you used to be able to figure out how fresh a loaf of bread was by the color-coded tag? No more; you can’t count on the color to tell you anything much any more.)

 For instance, the Harvard Study reveals that there’s nothing unsafe about food that is past the “sell by” food date — that date doesn’t have anything to do with the safety of the food itself; it’s an inventory control date for the store to control what’s on its shelves. Wow.

And, here’s a biggie: eating something well before the “sell by” food date doesn’t inherently mean that it’s all fresh, and good, and safe for you to eat. Nope. Things like how it was stored are a big factor here.

What about the “use by” food date code? The “use by” food date does not give you dependable information on how microbiologically sound that food product may be — that’s dependent on how the product has been manufactured, distributed, and stored for you.

Not All Food Is the Same: Food Dating Systems Should Reflect Ready-to-Eat Versus To-Be-Prepared 

Another big factor here: not all food is the same and they’re not suggesting that there not be universal one-size fits all food dating. Refrigerated ready-to-eat food is more risky for bacteria, for example, than something you have to bring home and cook. Why? The heat may kill dangerous bacteria in the food that the ready-to-eat item might share, but it’s not going to get zapped by heat before you eat it.

There’s lots more in the study. It’s worth your time to read. Now, I’m going to go get a snack.

October 8, 2013

Dog Joint Pain or Dog Arthritis - This Pill Has Given My Dog His Fun Life Back: Hooray for Osteo Pet Joint Care!

Right off the bat, I want you to know that I'm not getting paid anything to write about this product, not a single penny.  Osteo-Pet isn't sending me any freebies, either - they don't even know I exist.

I just want to share with you, Dear Reader, how much these supplements have changed my dog's life (and therefore, my life) for the better.

Let's go back to May.  Middle of the month, and my boy dog (born in 2002) was moving slow and not running around in the yard any longer.  Didn't like to get up and move around, panting more that he used to do.  Stiff back legs when he awoke in the morning.

His ball - his very, VERY favorite toy, lay on his bed but he never brought it to me any longer, asking to go play fetch and catch.

Then, the WORST thing happened.  That night, he couldn't jump on the bed.  Now, this pup has slept on the bed with me every night (except for a handful of times) since he was born.  Every night.  Heck, he thinks it's his bed and he's gracious enough to share it with me.

But he just couldn't do it.  And he wouldn't let me lift him.  You cannot know (or maybe you can, if you've gone through this too) how devastating this was - for both of us.  I cried and cried, thinking how it was a sign that I was going to lose him sooner rather than later.  I cried even harder because I could not figure out how to make him feel better.

Then I went to the internet.  That night.  Thank you God for the WEB!

The next day, thanks to Amazon, we began our Osteo-Pet Joint Care regimen.  Reviews explained that it would be a slow process, and it was.  But things began to get better in a couple of weeks.

And now, here we are in the first week of October.  Dear Reader, he's back to chasing SQUIRRELS in the back yard, he's bouncing up to start the day, he's playing ball and more.  He was doing lots of this by August, but he seems to be even more peppy and energetic and, well, happy, now.  (And if you don't know a happy dog from a sad one, you don't know dogs.)

It's amazing.  It's wonderful.  It's a blessing and an answered prayer.

His fur is thicker than it's ever been, he's got a great appetite, his face is one big smile all the time, and he jumps up on the bed now in the middle of the day, bouncing around a bit, just to show everyone that he CAN, goshdarnit!

I know that my boy may have another chapter where he can't jump up on the bed again.  I know that he's a "senior dog" and this isn't a miracle cure for aging.

But Osteo Pet Joint Care has given him a new lease on life and I'm so very grateful.  I thought I'd share with you, Dear Reader, because maybe our story will help another older, wonderful dog in pain, too.

Read my Amazon review here.

P.S. This is all the more joyous for me considering how I lost my beloved Molly in 2004, where in October she was given Rimadyl by the vet for joint pain, an otherwise healthy dog, and by March she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer (which the vet had told me in October was a "possible side effect but it's a quality of life decision").  Never saw much help for Molly from it, either.  Do your own web research on Rimadyl, I'm still angry about what happened.  Wish I'd known about Osteo Pet Joint Care back then.

September 30, 2013

The Shopper’s Thrill of the Great Bargain Find: Dollar Tree and Great Books (For a Buck)

 I’ve been living the Voluntary Simplicity lifestyle for many years now, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost that thrill of stumbling upon a great bargain while shopping. It’s just that the store names have changed, and the amount that I’m willing to pay is lots (LOTS) less now.

That zing in your heart strings, or purse strings, when you find something great for a low price? It’s still there.

Like it was for me last week.

Go back with me, Dear Reader, as I was pushing my little green shopping cart through the aisles of my local Dollar Tree, which in my opinion is the nicest dollar store out there. (At least in my neck of the woods, San Antonio.) Sure, there’s the need to eagle eye the products here, as in any bargain paradise (be it thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or WalMart) - you have to discern quality from crud.

Dollar Tree is My Favorite Dollar Store -- I Shop Dollar Tree Once a Month for Bargains

There are quality items to be found at Dollar Tree, and the reason that I prefer this chain to the others is two-fold: if I pick it up, I know it’s $1.00 or less (unlike some other “dollar” stores) and there’s more quality stuff at the Dollar Tree chains. At least, this has been my experience. Plus, they’re clean and their workers are friendly and helpful.

I visit Dollar Tree once a month without fail because I find great things there, like this week: 

  1. Brillo sponges (not pads), blue, with a scruffy surface on one side (package of two for a buck). 
  2. Index cards (200/$1.00)(I love using index cards for lots of things, it’s Old School, I know). 
  3. Plastic flowers for my outdoor wreathes (amazing quality, these plastic blooms - very slow to fade). 
  4. Betty Crocker kitchen stuff (got a primo pasta spoon for $1.00). 
  5. Baskets and bins (sweet, big reed basket for a buck - perfect for a gift basket). 
  6. Gift bags (this store doesn’t have the great selection I have seen in other D-Trees, but big bags for a buck is still nice). 
  7. Tape (got Scotch brand clear tape, enough to last me a year at least, two rolls for a buck). 
  8. Del Monte canned vegetables (two regular cans for a buck). 
  9. Dog toys (I don’t buy their edible offerings, but the small stuffed toys are safe and my pups love them - for the 30 minutes it takes for them to tear them apart outside in the grass.) 
  10. Books. That’s right, Dear Reader. BOOKS. 

My local Dollar Tree has some wonderful finds - and I thought I’d share with you the books I’ve bought this month at Dollar Tree: 

Is This Unfair to the Author? Geez Louise, I Hope Not 

I’m not the only one who has discovered great reads at the dollar store. Lynn Viehl writes of buying up some of her author/friend’s books upon discovering them at a dollar store in her April 2005 blog post - and she explains the reasons why finding books in a dollar store might make an author cringe.

 I love authors, I love books, I don’t want to hurt writers in any way. However, without Dollar Tree I would not have known about Richard Lupoff - nor would I read Linda Fairstein (even though I have heard of her name before).

Are these writers making money off my Dollar Tree buys? Nope; these are “remaindered remainders” as Viehl explains. Jance, Fairstein, Evanovich, Briggs, and Lupoff will make no more from their artistry and hard work on my copies than if I’d borrowed their books from the library.

However, they’ve gained a fan in me through DollarTree, and that’s got to be worth something, right? Especially when you consider that these are all series reads, where I’m going to be searching for the rest of the series? (Well, except for Plum. I’ve got almost every Stephanie Plum already.)

Plus, I like to think it’s better to scoop up these great finds at the Dollar Tree than to leave them there. I mean, the only thing worse than finding these books at the dollar store would be to discover that no one bought them there, right?