Food Challenge: Re-Use and Store

Published: March 15, 2018

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. So this month we are challenging our faculty, students, and staff to some food challenges.

"Go Further with Food" is the theme for 2018, so for our first challenge we asked participants to go through their fridges and pantries to re-use and store!

This challenge encourages the cleaning out of your fridge and pantry by making a list of what you have, reorganizing it, reusing any leftovers and freezing food for later use.

Our tips to our challengers were:

  • Keep perishable food items in the back of the fridge where it is colder and in their original packaging
  • Maintain fridge temperature below 41 degrees F
  • Trust your nose, food might be good even when purchase date is past the date mentioned
  • Donate any non-perishables to local food bank

Center staff members, Amelia McClellan, Kelsey Herron, Samantha Kreis, and Julie Latcham took on the “Re-Use and Store Challenge” at the beginning of March and shared what they learned:

Amelia McClellan

unorganized pantry with food pantry with 3 organized shelves

Things I learned from this challenge:

  • I found out that I had multiples of the same items that I wasn’t using, such as multiple boxes of instant rice and many different bottles of hot sauce. This made me realize that I might not be making my grocery lists with up to date knowledge of what I already have and that I could potentially be wasting those items (thankfully none had gone bad yet!).
  • I also realized a few meals I could have been making with some of the random items I forgot I had such as chicken spaghetti or even a fajita salad with the excess romaine lettuce, rice and canned veggies.
  • As I was cleaning everything out, I realized I had gotten lazy with my organization. I wasn’t super unorganized but I try to keep similar items together and I noticed a big difference in the reorganization of my pantry in the before and after pictures.
  • It was also brought to my attention that many of the items in my refrigerator are very close to going bad that I need to use up quickly. I have quite a bit of eggs that are close to the expiration date so I decided I can boil them to have with either my lunch or make a salad with some of the other veggies I have that also could be going bad soon.
  • The last thing I learned is that I have a lot more space than I thought once I moved things around, especially in the pantry, because I keep my dog’s food and treats in there as well.


Kelsey Herron

fridge door shelves with food unorganized organized fridge door

Things I learned from this challenge:

  • I need to remember to clean out the fridge and pantry once a month because it will help me not waste as much food, since I’ll be reminded of what is expiring soon.
  • It also helped remind me of what I already have (i.e. I forgot I had peanuts that were still good).
  • Also, as an extra note or tip, I plan to re-use the salad dressing jars as a way to store dressing I plan to make myself.


Julie Latcham

inside shelves of fridge with a few food items inside shelves of fridge with stacked tupperware

Things I learned from this challenge:

  • I tend to spend extra money on a few items not needed: salsa and marinara sauce.
  • This week, I was able to use substitutes in my fridge to make banana bread. Since I didn’t have eggs, I used the last of my apple sauce as a substitution. I also substituted milk and vinegar to create a buttermilk substitute. The recipe still turned out delicious, used up items in my fridge -- while saving money!
  • I tend to buy more fruits and vegetables than I have time to eat.
  • Based on items in my fridge, I have started thinking through what next week’s meals might be.


Samantha Kreis

Kreis-Fridge-Beforefridge with tupperware, cursive "after" on bottom of photo

Things I learned from this challenge:

  • That salad dressing and ginger beer have an expiration date.
  • It’s difficult keeping an organized fridge when you have to share it with a roommate.
  • There was definitely more stuff I could have thrown out, but didn’t want to throw away my roommates stuff.


As you can see, many of our staff enjoyed the challenge and learned about their shopping and eating habits as well. We encourage anyone to take on this challenge to be more aware about food waste and what you can change to make your food go further.


Below are some extra tips for food safety and storage: