Food Waste

August: Recap of Food Waste/Repurposing, Healthy Eating on a Budget & Stretching Resource Dollars

The Continuing Journey of a Nutrition Students Journey To Make An Impact

As I reflect on the last three months of nutrition Blogs, it pleases me to see all of the good
Food Finders does.

In 2022, Food Findersrescued 13,709,033 pounds of food, resulting in Food Finders providing
11,424,195 meals to people living with food insecurity.

What a beautiful example of how rescuing food that would typically go to waste and
repurposing it helps to feed so many people. Food that usually ends up in the trash and
eventually landfills contributes to climate change.
Whether food waste and repurposing, healthy eating on a budget, or stretching resource
dollars to nutrition education. The tools provided help those in need help themselves as
much as possible when struggling with food insecurity.

Food Waste Is A Huge Problem

Food Waste is a problem that isn’t going away, so we must stay vigilant by not losing sight of
the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture, you say? In addition to the many hungry
people who could eat that wasted food caused by poor planning and expiration date
confusion, the long-term effects on the environment are tragic.

Repurposing, Resources, and Education are the Answer!

If you have followed my blog posts, you might get tired of this topic, but I do not care.
I will do whatever it takes to increase awareness of this problem that has a solution.
Food Finders work hard to plan and implement food repurposing through their Partner
Agency Coordinator.
Additionally, Food Finders provides nutrition education and resources to educate the
recipients of this beautiful rescued food on healthy eating, proper storage, and clearing up
expiration date confusion.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

When considering healthy eating on a budget, you’re thinking dollar signs $$$. As a
full-time student and an intern at Food Finders, eating healthy is significant. I shop the sale
ads and plan meals based on what I already have in my pantry and refrigerator, saving time
and money.

However, there is a crucial part of eating healthy on a budget that saves you long-term
that many people do not consider. Many need to consider the long-term health implications
of poor eating habits. Our intricately designed bodies serve us well when we treat them
well. Eating well today can save you thousands, if not more, in medical bills later on. If you
do not treat your body well, you are setting the stage for obesity, type 2 diabetes,
hypertension, and heart disease.

Plan. Eat Well. Live Well.

Stretching Resource Dollars

What are resource dollars?

Your resource dollars can be the cold, hard cash you work so hard for, or it can also be
CalFresh, known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This
July Edition is all about making both work harder for your household.

What is important is how to utilize your resources to get maximum benefit. It’s not that hard if you
employ what I have shared in the last few months. It all ties together. You can stretch your
resource dollars if you use the information you have learned from food waste, repurposing, and
healthy eating on a budget.

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City College is
one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food. It isn’t enough that we are getting
food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals
that reduce waste.

#StopFoodWasteDay #NutritionTalks #TipForZeroWaste #FoodFindersInc #LBrecovers #HealthyActiveLongBeach

Kelly Alarcon, a Student at California State University, Long Beach, with a concentration in Nutrition and
Nutritional Science, is passionate about showing others the
path to wellness through nutrition while
reducing hunger and food waste.

Food Waste

Stretching Resource Dollars

The budget constraints of a full-time college student can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be.
As a full-time student who works and keeps a household afloat, every penny matters! Food
costs are on the rise and that makes it more important than ever to shop smart. That is where I
began to understand the importance of “Resource Dollars.”

What are resource dollars you ask?

Your resource dollars can be the cold hard cash you work so hard for or it can also be CalFresh,
known federally as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Making both work
harder for your household is what this July Edition is all about.

How to stretch your resource dollars.
★ Tip #1 Non-Food Savings
Before I get into what you can do to be a smarter shopper with food, have you considered non-food ways to save? When I started school I knew my budget was going to be tight. So, I went
over my monthly bills and took a really careful look at where my money was going. The first thing I
did was cancel the cable. I was single, living on my own, and between work and school when I
was home I didn’t have time to surf through 400 plus channels finding nothing to watch because
I was either studying or sleeping.
Next, I looked at what I was spending on non-essentials and I realized that I tend to spend a lot
of money at the nail salon. Did I like having gel manicures and pedicures? YES, in fact, I loved it
but it was not a necessity. So, even though I stopped going to the salon, I learned how to
manicure my own nails, and this is a win/win. Believe it or not, the savings on the cable bill and
nail salon were almost $300.

★ Tip #2 Meal Planning is Key
You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it again and again: Planning is key! Failing to plan
is planning to fail. One of the things I do is keep a running grocery list. I use the notepad on my
phone. This comes in clutch, especially with the basics that I always have on hand such as:
cooking oil, rice, eggs, and spices. By planning meals ahead of time I can use food ingredients
that are on sale that week!

★ Tip #3 Don’t Get Sucked into the Bulk Buys.
There are plenty of instances where buying in bulk will save you. However, buying in bulk is not
guaranteed savings. Look at the cost per ounce, pound, and other measurements. For
example, an organic bunch of green onions that are typically 8-10 onions is around $1.50/ea. vs
non-organic for .99/ea. But it contains only 4-5 onions. By purchasing the organic you are
getting double the onions for a lot less.

★ Tip #4 Shop Weekly Ads
As I mentioned before, the weekly ads from my local grocers are where I start. I find two or three
proteins on sale and then I begin to plan my meals with these additional savings in mind.

★ Tip #5 Clip Coupons
I have mobile apps for all of the grocery stores I frequent. I search the weekly ads for digital
coupons for items that I need. I know it might be hard to refrain but only use the coupons for
items on your list. Most things outside of this will take you out of budget. As with all things, there
are always exceptions to the rule. If I see eggs, cheese, and other nutrient-rich foods that require
a coupon I will do my best to include it in my shopping budget for the week. Remember animal
proteins and cheese will freeze well.

★ Tip #6 Check Expiration Dates
Just because it is on sale doesn’t mean stock up. Look at the expiration date and shop
accordingly. Oftentimes food goes on sale because an expiration date is nearing or they could
simply have too much stock.
Utilize the Food Keepers App which is a product of the USDA:

★ Tip #7 Buy Generic
Be careful where your loyalty lies with name-brand products. There are plenty of quality generic
items you could be saving big dollars on. For this example, I will talk about marinara sauce. If
you pay attention you’ll notice all of the name-brand sauces are at eye level, and generic or
store-brand sauces are on the bottom shelf. I challenge you to take a jar of marinara sauce such
as Rao and compare it to a store-brand marinara sauce.
You’ll be surprised to see the similarity in the ingredients. Rao is a well-known marinara sauce
popular among low-carb eaters as the way to go. For ½ cup of sauce from Rao, you have 90
calories with 4g of carbs. For the Great Value brand, you get ½ cup for 60 calories and 7g of
carbs. Not a significant difference in the macronutrient content but the price savings are
incredible. 24 oz of Rao marinara sauce at WalMart is $7.72 per jar vs Wal-Marts Great Value
brand which is $1.48 for a 23oz sized jar.

★ Tip #8 Do not Go to the Store Hungry
This might be one of the most important tips. You could throw away all of your planning by going
to the store hungry. Just like you plan your trips to the store, plan to eat before.
You can be guaranteed to go out of budget and will definitely eat something void of nutrition as
well. Don’t end up like the hangry bear!

Remember Planning is Key when stretching resource dollars while reducing food waste and
being good to our planet.

Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in
Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through
nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.

Food Waste

Healthy Eating on a Budget

As a full-time nutrition student on a tight budget, I have found the best options for a SoCal native to eat for wellness on a budget.  I shop at Walmart, Costco, Aldi, Vons, Smart & Final, Food 4 Less, and Trader Joes.

Here are some tips:

  • Planning is key. If I go to a store hungry or without a list or both my budget is blown every single time.
    • Planning reduces waste!
  • Do your research.  Most foods have increased in price at least 25% over the last year.  I have the mobile applications for all of my local grocery stores and I plan my meals for the week from the proteins that are on sale. Do not shy away from the stores that are typically more expensive overall than others. It has been my experience that Vons/Pavilions has some of the best sales on animal protein. The trick is to not stray from the items on sale. Get the protein and get out. 
  • Make a list
    • Do NOT go to the store hungry.
    • Stick to the list!
  • It can be smart planning to make multiple trips to get all the items you need if you plan your shopping accordingly.  I go to the furthest store out and backtrack to the others landing at the last which is closest to my home.  Conversely, don’t make a long trip to save .05 cents per pound. Do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  • Proteins:
    • Pork: there are always cuts on sale between $.99 and $1.50/lb. This can be made into stews, meat for tacos, egg scrambles, and burritos or burrito bowls
    • Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breast is $2.99/lb at Walmart regularly and Aldi for $2.69/lb regularly.  Pound out some chicken breast, season, sear, and finish in the oven for on-the-go chicken breast to top a salad with, make tacos, unbreaded orange chicken, or just by itself with a side of rice and vegetables.
    • Beef: What can I say about beef other than this protein is up in price almost 50% so keep your eyes peeled for what fits your budget.  Personally, I draw the line at $3.99/lb for my protein purchases. You will find various cuts on sale meeting this priceline you just have to look for them.
    • Seafood: Crazy expensive and I keep my eyes on the sales but even the sales are out of my range most weeks.
    • Turkey: I find ground turkey at Smart & Final regularly for $2.99/lb. It is so versatile and will absorb any flavor profile you want to create regularly.
    • Various Sausages: Aldi is my go-to when nothing is on sale. They almost always have bratwurst or knackwurst on sale for a quick weekday meal of sausage and peppers over rice.
  • Vegetables: Fresh is great but if you do not plan to use them within 3-4 days you are increasing your chances of food waste and that is bad for the budget and the environment. Bell peppers and onions tend to last longer when fresh. To avoid waste and to save money I buy a lot of my vegetables in the frozen section. They are just as nutritious as fresh without the waste. Frozen veggie food hack: don’t waste your money on the frozen veggies that come in ready steam bags, buy the non-steam frozen options and put your desired serving in a zip lock baggie, leaving it slightly open to vent, and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Put a little bit of butter and season to taste. I love Tajin on my steamed veggies for a citrusy kick.
  • Fruit: Fruit is best fresh. Frozen can be used in making sauces or smoothies. You can freeze your fresh fruit before it goes bad for future use in smoothies. Here’s a link to Betty Crocker for freezing tips:
  • Starches :
    • White or sweet potatoes are generally affordable and can stretch a meal to feed your hungry family.  A time saver is to clean and boil or bake whole potatoes and refrigerate. It makes it easy to cut up and pan fry to go with some eggs or make  a one pan skillet dish with any ground protein. Check out this recipe from soulfully Made
    • Rice and noodles are generally very affordable and can be bought in bulk and stored for a long time. 

Remember planning is key when sticking to a budget that you can afford while reducing food waste and being good to our planet.
Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.


A Nutrition Student’s Journey To Make An Impact

As a full-time Dietetics and Food Administration, Nutrition and Nutritional Science Option, BS student at California State University, Long Beach, and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are an important part of my life.  I learned in my junior year of school at California State, Long Beach how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them children, and my heart broke. I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I was passionate about.

 I quickly became vested in learning how I could not only educate people on the benefits of healthy eating but also reducing food waste, repurposing food, and getting food to those in need. 

I realized that my knack for meal planning and shopping on a limited budget was something that I understand and was a big part of helping people to reduce food waste. The question for me was how could I combine these two skills and make a bigger impact. 

Food Waste is a Problem

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States with the vast majority of waste occurring in the home. Poor planning and expiration dates on the food we purchase are large contributors.  Many would rather toss food they aren’t sure about, which affects the environment’s equity, than risk getting a foodborne illness.  

Repurposing, Resources, and Education is the answer!

We work hard to plan and implement food repurposing through the Partner Agency Coordinators. 

Additionally, we are working hard to provide education and resources that explain not only how to properly store food but how to interpret the various expiration dates we see on food such as “use by”, ‘sell by”, etc. 

The FoodKeepers application supported by the USDA is a great resource to help people sort through the confusing world of labels and dates.  It can help you not only interpret the varying expiration date labels, but also can explain the best storage methods for various foods to reduce waste. 

Meal Planning

Meal planning is one of the biggest ways that all of us can stop food waste. Who hasn’t gone to the grocery store hungry and bought more than they needed?

When you plan your meals or even just your shopping, it reduces food waste.  And don’t forget that planning ahead is also easy on your wallet—a big plus! By planning your meals for the week and then creating your shopping list based on your meals can cut waste by 15% or more.  

Here’s a recipe that will guide you to the deliciousness of potato peel chips.  Not only are they delicious but you are reducing food waste by repurposing your peels into a crunchy snack or appetizer that has a ton more potassium and magnesium than the flesh of the potato as well as 12 times the antioxidants, so eat up.

Tip For Cutting Food Waste

  • Shop the grocery store’s weekly ads. With the cost of food up by 25% or more, finding proteins that are on sale that week is where I start my meal planning.
  • I do NOT go to the store hungry. Going grocery shopping hungry guarantees I will buy some overpriced and over-processed snack that I promptly eat on the way home.  This not only takes me out of budget but is unhealthy.  
  • I stick to my list.
  • I prepare my fruits and veggies for the week.  If I have salads planned I pre-cut and wash my lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and cucumbers. I also wash and cut up any melons or fruit for the week as well.  Doing this makes busy weeks easier and allows for a nutritious snack of fruit that is easy to grab.

Nutrition Talks Program

This is all information I use when in our Nutrition Talks Program with our partner agencies.  I do a basic overview of nutrition and its importance with interactive tools that keep people engaged in what they are learning. One example is my Nutrition Facts Label workshop which starts with a scavenger hunt looking for a pantry item with a nutrition facts label and ties up with a Q & A on what was learned.  This month I will be visiting Long Beach City College for an interactive demonstration on how to repurpose fruits and vegetables. 

Working with the City of Long Beach to get nutrition education to Long Beach City College is just one way we do our part to reduce waste by repurposing food.  It isn’t enough that we are getting food into the hands of those in need but also to educate them on the many nutrient-dense meals that can be created while reducing waste.   

#StopFoodWasteWednesday #nutritiontalks #tipsforzerowaste #foodfindersinc #LBrecovers #healthyactivelongbeach

Kelly Alarcon, Student at California State University, Long Beach with a concentration in Nutrition and Nutritional Science has a passion for showing others the path to wellness through nutrition while reducing hunger and food waste.

farmer's markets resources and reasonsCommunity

Farmer’s Markets: Reasons & Resources

In support of National Farmer’s Market Week from August 7th to the 14th, Food Finder encourages everyone to get out and support our local farmers, fresh fruit, and vegetable vendors. Many areas of the country are food deserts, and to provide nutritious meals to our families, we must have fruits and vegetables available. Many Food Pantries do not have the ability to store perishable foods, so we must supplement. Wic has a beautiful Farmer’s Market program (details below) because they know that having an array of colorful foods is how we nourish and flourish!

Resources Below

10 Reasons to Support Farmers Markets

From: CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food.

sites/default/files/winter_paredez.jpgFrom savoring produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers’ markets. Here are just a few!

1. Taste Real Flavors

The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmer’s market are the freshest and tastiest. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, and no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets—fresh from the farm.

2. Enjoy the Season

The food you buy at the farmer’s market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmer’s market helps you reconnect with our region’s cycles of nature. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the year’s turning.

3. Support Family Farmers

Family farmers need your support now that large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

4. Protect the Environment

Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmer’s market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5. Nourish Yourself

Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have adverse effects on human health. In contrast, most food at the farmer’s market is minimally processed. Many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.

6. Discover the Spice of Life: Variety

At the farmers market, you find a fantastic array of produce you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, and green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, and much, much more. It is an excellent opportunity to savor the biodiversity of our planet.

7. Promote Humane Treatment of Animals

At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture.

8. Know Where Your Food Comes From

A regular trip to a farmer’s market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced. CUESA’s seller profiles that hang at the booths give you even more opportunities to learn about the people working hard to bring you the most delicious and nutritious food. Profiles, articles about sellers, and a map of farms are also available on this website.

9. Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas

Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy. Still, farmers, ranchers, and artisans at the farmer’s market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. You can also attend free seasonal cooking demonstrations by leading Bay Area chefs and evening classes on food preservation and other kitchen skills.

10. Connect with Your Community

Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped-in music? Coming to the farmer’s market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children or just get a taste of small-town life amid our wonderful big city.

Farmer’s Market Resources in Southern California

LB Fresh, in addition to Long Beach Famers Markets, gives pantry location details, as well as volunteer opportunities.

State of California Certified Famer’s Markets PDF Listing by County:

Orange County:

WIC Nutrition Program:

WIC Authorized Farmer’s Markets:

USDA Nutrition Program & Farmer’s Markets

Seniors Farmers Market

USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program

NRPA Farmers Market resource

Good Veg Long Beach Farmer’s Markets:

Farmers Market Coalition

We Like LA Lists LA County Famers Markets with History and Facts About Each Location

Ecology Center Farmer’s Market Finder:


If you have more resources or information on Farmer’s Markets, please message us in the comments section.

why waste food wednesday blog postFood Waste

Stop Wasting Food: Plan It Out

According to the FDA, an estimated 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States. This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, it costs a lot of money—more than $400 billion in 2019, according to ReFed. In addition, all the water, energy, and labor used to produce this wasted food could have been reallocated for consumption instead of lost. That means that we could not only be saving water and the environment, but helping to feed food insecure people as well.

As a full-time Nutrition and Dietetics student and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are essential to my life.  In my junior year at California State, Long Beach, I learned how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them are children, and my heart broke.  I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I would devote my time to.

Planning Reduce Food Waste

I have found out that most people are not aware of how throwing away food is changing our planet. Since working with Food Finders, A food rescue organization in Southern California, I have learned that reducing the amount of food that goes into landfills would help address climate change. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true! Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane—a greenhouse gas nearly 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide. And since 20% of U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, reducing food waste in landfills would help lessen methane emissions and improve our planet.

How can you help? PLAN.

Low-carb chicken enchiladas, black beans, and Spanish rice

Just by planning out meals each week, in most cases, I can prevent food waste in my home.  Having meals, fresh fruits, and vegetables ready for a busy week is a great feeling.  I know how life is. We get busy and forget what is in the refrigerator. Maybe they order pizza at work and your delicious leftovers go bad. It always made me feel bad to throw away a good meal but now that I know I am hurting planet earth too–well, we can all be better.

One of the ways I reduce my overall waste and save on my grocery bill is to plan out meals, cook them, and package them up for lunches and dinner throughout the week.

I just love the feeling of getting in my home, tired, hungry and opening up the fridge to a choice of delicious meals already prepped and ready to eat.

Avoiding Disaster: FREEZE ‘EM

It is super easy to forget fruits and veggies and when they go bad, it is fast! So I use the freezer to help me reduce food waste. I like to freeze most of my fruits for future use in smoothies, spreads, and salad dressings. I place the fruit in vacuum-sealed bags and label and dated them (you can also use zip lock bags but be sure to remove as much air as possible).

On those weeks when I have prepped and planned my meals and realize that I am not going to be able to eat them all I prefer to reach out to my neighbors. Most of them know I am nutrition student and now a #FoodWasteHero (who is mindful not to throw good food away) so they will usually take the meals off my hand.  Before I started working with Food Finders, I usually didn’t have a backup plan in case they couldn’t use them. Now I am a member of a social media group that is all about giving and receiving for free.  It is where I have witnessed the kindest of strangers cooking hot meals for group members in need and giving away perishables and non-perishable foods.  It makes my heart happy to see my community in action. 

Making A Plan

Start by writing out a grocery list with all the recipes you will cook this week. Not only will this save on your grocery bills, but it makes shopping faster. Next, have a prep day and cook everything you need, dividing portions into containers. Sometimes you can freeze meals, depending on what you are preparing for the week. Households throw away 43% of all the food that ends up in landfills in the United States. That is a horrible statistic and one that is very preventable with planning.

Get the whole family involved in the planning, prepping, and packaging. You might be surprised at how fun and easy it can be to #stopfoodwaste and help save the planet.


Kelly Alarcon is a full-time student and Intern at Food Finders, Inc.