Could a Fridge Triage Box Help You Stop Wasting Food and Money?

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stop wasting food, eat me first box, fridge box, refrigerator box, fridge triage, food waste, green design, eco design, sustainable design, how to make an eat me first fridge box, how to stop wasting food, how to save money on groceries

As a sustainable design writer, one question I get asked a lot is do I actually practice what I preach? The answer for the most part is yes: I recycle, I rarely buy stuff (and when I do, it’s usually secondhand), I sit in the sweltering heat instead of turning on my AC and I probably only drive five times a year. But there is one thing I do that probably negates a big chunk of all of my other eco efforts – I waste food like a mofo.

I don’t know when these horrible habits of mine began but I have identified some of the causes. First off, for some reason I can’t go to the grocery store without stocking up like Armageddon is near. I don’t feel that it’s acceptable to leave the store with just one type of cheese (you need the sliced kind for sammiches and the block kind for snacking), and anything that looks tasty in any way is going to end up in my cart whether it’s going to be physically possible for me to eat it all before it rots or not. And it’s not like I’m cooking for a large family. There are usually only two people eating and sometimes just one. So yeah, at the end of the week, there’s a lot of expired food that just gets tossed. For shame! If you read Inhabitat, you probably know that food waste is a huge problem, contributing to climate change and filling up our landfills, but it’s also just bad form and a huge waste of money. Cheese isn’t cheap, you know.

So after I spent a few days guilt-tripping myself worse than my own mother would about this situation, I decided to do something about it. But what? Well, certainly I could control myself a bit more at the market, but I also felt that the design of my fridge was part of the problem (blaming others is fun). Yes, the fridge is roomy and even has configurable shelves and nicely labeled compartments, but if you think about it, it actually has too many levels and food storage areas. So I’d have cheese in the cheese drawer, milk on the righthand middle shelf, veggies in their drawers and other perishable items scattered all over the place. Now I know that this is the way we’ve been taught that it should be – a place for everything and everything in its place – but that was before our lives got so crazy that we needed to hire virtual assistants in Asia to tweet things for us from our personal Twitter accounts. When I’m busy writing a story and it’s lunch time, I sprint over to the fridge and just grab whatever’s right in the middle. I don’t have time to look in multiple compartments for items that are sometimes hidden behind or under other items and I’m sure you don’t either.


Anyways, sorry for this extremely long-winded intro, but the point I’m getting at is that I decided to modify my behavior by essentially forcing myself to consume the things in my fridge that were in danger of going bad by gathering them in a central location that visually tells me to eat them – a fridge triage box. I’m (for the most part) not dumb, but I know that without this behavior-modifying “system” – it’s really just a shoe box with a sign on it – I wouldn’t be able to cut down my food waste as much as I have.

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Hello Kitty Cafe in Kyoto

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明けましておめでとう! Happy New Year everyone! 2015 held many blessings for me including the chance to return to the enchanted city of Kyoto with my love. If you’ve ever visited Kyoto, you will understand why it grips my heart so. There is truly no other place in the world like it. So to be able to stroll through its historic side streets with my kimono-clad beau was an experience that I will never forget…regardless of the fact that we were bickering the whole time over misplaced directions. :/

Yes, it’s ultra touristy and some might even say inauthentic, but the Hello Kitty Saryo cafe was one of my favorite parts of our Kyoto trip. Tucked amidst a busy pedestrian path near some of the area’s most famous temples, the highly secular, super cutesy eatery might seem out of place to some, but to me, it was a perfect representation of what Japan is so very good at – taking our culture and making it desirable and accessible to all.

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What is somen nagashi (noodle waterslide) and where can you try it?

Waterfall Dining in Kibune Kyoto Japan

Living in modern times, it’s pretty rare to be able to tap into our primitive instincts and catch our own food – doubly so if you’re a vegetarian like I am. That’s why I’ve been so fascinated by somen-nagashi, a Japanese dining concept that takes bundles of somen (a type of thin white wheat flour noodle) and flushes them down tubes that look like mini waterslides to eager diners waiting to scoop them up with their chopsticks. Last week, I finally had the chance to give somen-nagashi, which translates roughly to “flushing somen” a try in the mountain town of Kibune, outside of Kyoto. Read on for the deets!

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“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Winter Baby Shower Idea

baby shower, baby shower ideas, mary's baby shower, baby shower theme, winter baby shower, cute baby shower theme, baby shower menu

baby shower, baby shower ideas, mary's baby shower, baby shower theme, winter baby shower, cute baby shower theme, baby shower menu

My friend Mary’s little one is already a toddler (where did the time go?), but I recently unearthed these photos of the winter-themed baby shower we threw for her back when she was still expecting. Since the celebration took place around the holidays, the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” motif made perfect sense! Read on for all of the sparkly, snowy DIY ideas we incorporated into this fun alternative to a typical pink or blue baby shower.

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7 Adorable DIY Engagement Party Decor Ideas That Will Make You Say “Awwww”

engagement party, engagement party ideas, surprise engagement party, wedding ideas, party appetizer ideas, cute appetizers, amy ahn, dave you

engagement party, engagement party ideas, surprise engagement party, wedding ideas, party appetizer ideas, cute appetizers, amy ahn, dave you

This past spring, my BFF Amy’s beau Dave let us in on a little secret: he was ready to propose! Dave was envisioning a proposal surrounded by Amy and his loved ones, but other than that, he wanted to keep it simple. I had other ideas. Thinking back on all of the fond memories Amy and I have shared together, and knowing her eye for thoughtful details, I really wanted fill this special moment in her life up to the top with lots of bells and whistles. I know that Dave’s surprise alone would have been plenty to take Amy’s breath away but I think she appreciated the little DIY touches we prepared for her. Read on to see all of the engagement party ideas we employed and get some inspiration for your own pre-nuptial event.

NOTE: Apologies in advance for the smartphone pics. We were so excited about setting up the party that we forgot to bring a proper camera!

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DIY: Don’t Throw Your Pickle Juice Away, Use It to Make Pickled Daikon!

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I love pickles and can finish a jar off in one sitting, but then I’m always left with a bottle of brine that I end up pouring down the drain. While it’s not the end of the world to let that leftover pickle juice go to waste, I often wondered if it could be reused in some way and finally came up with a solution – use it to make pickled daikon! If you’re not familiar with it, pickled daikon is a popular Asian side dish/condiment (here is a recipe if you want to put some elbow grease into it and make it without the lazy man’s cheat I’m about to show you) that pairs particularly well with Bonchon chicken or other hearty dishes that could use a crisp, acidic bite.

Okay, so you probably guessed it by now, but all this DIY really entails is chopping up some daikon (to clarify, I used regular radish for this tutorial since that’s what I already had), tossing it in your leftover pickle juice and letting it brine for a few days. How easy is that? You don’t have to go through the trouble of mixing up a new batch of vinegar, salt, etc. and if you’re using a brand of pickles you already know you enjoy, you don’t have to worry about testing out the right proportions to get the taste you like just right. Plus this DIY would work with lots of other veggies like pickled peppers, pickled pearl onions or just pickles (sliced up cucumbers). They make great gifts too!

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HOW TO: Make Little Watermelon Shaped Jello Shots Out of Fresh Limes

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HOW TO: Make Watermelon Lime Jello Shots That Really Look Like Little Watermelons, watermelon jello shots, jello shots, watermelon jello, jell-o shots, jell-o, summer treats, summer dessert, bbq dessert, potluck dessert, alcoholic dessert, how to make jello shots, watermelon lime jello shots, cute food, clossette, closette

Refreshing, adorable and packed with booze, these cute ‘lil watermelon line Jello shots are the perfect thing to bring to a summer BBQ or potluck. I made them last week for Jeanne and Serena, who weren’t ashamed to let me know that next time, they need “a lot more liquor.” Point taken! Click on Page 2 below to read the DIY recipe so you can make your own.

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HOW TO: Make an Edible Miniature High Line Park-Themed Thanksgiving Centerpiece

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Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday, so I wanted to create a really special centerpiece for our table this year. At first I thought “cornucopia?” but then I decided those were pretty snore-nucopia (don’t you agree?). Then I starting thinking about Japanese kaiseki ryouri, where chefs present edible arrangements (the kind that aren’t dipped in chocolate) as tiny treasures and brainstorming about autumn in the city and it hit me! The High Line! Sorry CP, but the High Line is hands down the best park in NYC and quite possibly the world, and with its oblong shape and varied textures, it’s really the perfect landmark to recreate as a captivating miniature tablescape. I knew that it was imperative that I make all of the “flora and fauna” out of veggies and other T-day eats, but I was baffled about what to create the actual structure out of. It finally dawned on me – again, while I was binge eating in Japan – sushi takeout boxes! Read on to see the DIY steps showing how how you can turn some recycled chopsticks and plastic containers into a mini High Line Thanksgiving centerpiece that even Sandra Lee would be proud of!

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4 Clever Ways to Use Up Your Leftover Watermelon Rind

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It’s already August and looks like the first days of school are right around the corner! The weather on the other hand, didn’t seem to get the memo because I’m still sporting my flip flops and shades. While I have no problem with an extended summer, there are only a few things I crave during these hot, humid days and at the top of my list… is watermelon! Although it’s super juicy, bright red and delicious, watermelon is one of those fruits where a lot ends up going to waste. But did you know that the white rind we’re so quick to throw away has many great uses? Try some of these options below and see how waste-less you can be!

  1. Pickled Watermelon Rind: Hey, you pickle cucumbers so why not try it with watermelon rind? Use your favorite pickling recipe and use watermelon rinds where they call for cucumbers. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the similar taste and texture!
  2. Sweetened Watermelon Rind: Though the white rind of the watermelon is not as sweet as the red flesh, it’s still edible and definitely has a great crunchy texture. If you have a sweet tooth and you’re craving a great refreshing snack, dice up some watermelon rind and top with your favorite sweetener whether it be sugar, equal, honey or even coconut milk.
  3. Acne Treatment: We’ve all gone through it… being a pimple-faced teenager dreading going to school. Eating watermelon rind can help with acne problems but rubbing the rinds on the skin surface can also help clear up acne
  4. Watermelon Cups: (My personal fave!): This may be a bit time consuming but if you want your guests to rave about your food AND your drinkware, grab yourself some mini watermelons and make some personalized watermelon cups. The natural juices from the watermelon will also be a great added taste for all party goers. All you need is an x-acto knife and a steady hand.

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DIY: How To Make Homemade Fortune Cookies for Valentine’s Day

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While fortune cookies may seem as commonplace as Chinese restaurants are ubiquitous, they’re actually quite intriguing. No one really knows where they came from, except that wherever it was, it wasn’t China. Some speculate that they are the modern day descendants of the Japanese omikuji cookie, which also contained small slips of paper with fortunes written on them, and though many people have tried to claim that they created the famous treat, an official ruling has never been made. No matter where you think fortune cookies really came from, there’s one thing that most people agree on – they don’t taste very good! That’s why I decided to try my hand at making a homemade version for Valentine’s Day. Not only is this DIY version so much more light, crisp and delicate, it’s also a lovely way to show the people you love how “fortunate” you are to have them. Read on for the recipe!

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How to Make a Korean Dosirak Box Using Your Leftovers

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If you’re not yet familiar, a dosirak box is to a bento box what Kourtney Kardashian is to Kim (just indulge me for a sec here) – just as delicious, just as well put together, but just a bit less famous. Essentially the dosirak is a Korean bento box, and the idea is completely the same except that instead of filling your tiny compartments with crunchy and tart sunomono, you would use a form of kimchi or other pickled veggies. In the end though, it’s really all up to you what goes in your dosirak box – it doesn’t even have to be Korean (hey, I used halal in mine). It’s just a simple and smart way to use up your leftovers, and present them prettily so that you’ll want to eat them again.

Click page two below to see the ingredients I used for mine.

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