How you doin’? Over the last several weeks, have you been doing the grocery shopping or has someone else done it for you? Many people really don’t like to go grocery shopping. I can give you various reasons why, but the fact is, people have better things to do—that is up until recently. With the quarantine orders in place, except for going out for groceries and to the drug store, there hasn’t been many places to go.
Before we found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, most of us thought nothing of grocery shopping. We didn’t just stop at one store… we shopped around to different stores. If I wanted snacks from Trader Joe’s and meat from Huntington Meats, it was no big deal. We didn’t worry about what time or even which day we went shopping. We just went whenever and wherever we wanted.
Today, going to a grocery store is a potential health risk (for myself, my family, and the store workers. I’ve learned that running out for a few extra potatoes isn’t just inefficient—it’s also irresponsible and downright wasteful. We’ve had to change the way we approach meal planning and shopping. It’s been a period of adjustment.
Below are several ways the quarantine and ongoing social distancing might change your approach to shopping—some habit changes you might want to consider for the future.
Before you even go to the store, be sure to check to see what you have in your own pantry. Rather than starting with a craving, coming up with a recipe, and then making a special shopping trip—cook what you have on hand. Be creative with what you have. Pretend every day is a new episode of Chopped.
Now that you’ve got the time, take inventory of all the foods in the pantry, fridge and freezers and plug all the information into a spreadsheet. You’ll find there is so much more “stuff” that you’ve had forgotten about—lentils, beans, noodles, canned goods, and more. You also might want to add a column for “best buy” so that you can keep track of what’s in and out of code. Now you can browse through the list and come up with meal ideas instead of mindlessly running to the store despite having full cupboards. You can also go online and type in the ingredients you have and see what recipes pop up.
Finally, if you have to go out grocery shopping, be sure to write a detailed shopping list—try to do it in the order that you shop, i.e. meat and poultry first, center of the store (cans and bottles), produce and then frozen foods. That will get you in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Please, please don’t over-buy, leave something for the next family
We are all watching small businesses struggling to survive amid mass closures. It has been painful to watch. I’ve always liked shopping local, bringing money back to the local economy. I also like small farmers, ranchers and producers. I look for the Made in America on the label. Every dollar counts to these independent, local businesses now more than ever. I also realized I’m not spending more money than usual; I am, however, wasting less of what I buy. When I put my dollars toward quality instead of quantity, there is more incentive to use up everything I buy.
You might also consider investing in one of those vacuum-sealing storage systems. They really do help to keep things fresher longer and you can save space in your refrigerator or freezer by stacking bags instead of containers. I use the FoodSaver system and find it works pretty well for bagged storage and when you are using your sous vide system (Lesson #8). When a container is needed, I prefer the Lasting Freshness Vacuum Seal Food Storage containers. I’ve tried a few different brands and have had the best success in drawing and keeping a vacuum to extend shelf life a few days. They also stack pretty well in cabinets and the refrigerator.
In the last couple of weeks, proteins have been harder to find, so I’m using less by supplementing meals with more vegetables, beans, and grains. This strategy is better for our budget, health, and the environment.
When eating less meat or chicken, you will appreciate the fresh produce more than ever before. Your quarantine salads made with greens from local farms will taste amazingly better. You’ll find that greens purchased locally will still be vibrant and fresh long after the pre-washed packaged stuff which can go limp pretty quickly. You may have never known how incredibly delicious truly fresh produce can be.
If you have kids in the house you already know that “food” to them means snacks. If there aren’t any chips, crackers, or granola bars in the house, You’re out of food. In this current environment try cutting back on processed snacks; try making treats from scratch instead. Experiment with Instant Pot yogurt (see recipe in the Instant Pot section of the blog), freshly baked breads, muffins, cookies and crackers. Homemade ice cream and sorbet are the very best and fun to make. You will feel so much better cooking from scratch, not to mention most items are less expensive to make and better quality than store-bought, processed foods.
Let us know how is the quarantine changing the way you grocery shop and prepare food for your family?
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Up until a couple of months ago, restaurants were doing well. Our industry is an important part of the US total economy. There are over 500,000 restaurants employing over 11 million coworkers across the country.
It’s now been two months since we started practicing physical distancing, and while we have managed to “flatten the curve,” nothing could have been more disastrous for the restaurant business. If you are a restaurant owner, chances are you are struggling—struggling to pay furloughed co-workers, struggling to pay rent, struggling to try to figure out how you are going to put it all back together. Independent, single unit operators, small and medium multi-unit operators and even big chains like The Cheesecake Factory have notified their landlords that they would be unable to pay rent for the foreseeable future.
May will be a crucial month for our industry as governing officials ponder how to safely “reopen” restaurants, easing physical distancing mandates, while operators are dealing with the practicalities of doing so. Restaurant operators are attempting to navigate the unknowns associated with slow re-openings and what this means to their survival.
Many questions revolve around capacity and seating—bars and catering require limits on group sizes at tables—difficult to source personal protective equipment needed for staff and diners alike, and how to best clean and sanitize the entire restaurant multiple times throughout the day. There are few firm answers, and even the most seasoned restaurant veterans are finding out, often day by day, what they can and cannot do and whether they will be able to survive reopening under these circumstances.
Now we are hearing from various authorities in different states and cities that, under certain circumstances, some restaurants may be allowed to open. Some companies were lucky enough to receive PPP grants and keep people on the payroll, but that will only cover about six weeks of wages. Operators will need to ramp up cash flow quickly. The purpose of this information is to offer direction and provide a framework for best practices for reopenings. The National Restaurant Association, the FDA and local health departments have assembled guidelines to assist operators navigate the murky waters, but there are no guidelines for how to make it all work financially to return to successful operations.
Right now, there isn’t any single, definitive way to get your restaurant open. We don’t know how many people will be allowed to enter the restaurant—some jurisdictions recommend or require limiting seating capacity to 25%. With fewer customers, how can the restaurant pay its bills, let alone make a profit? Let’s discuss the possibilities.
Review and re-engineer your menu —“skinny” it down… less is more. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of sales come from 20% of the menu items offered. Remove (for now) those slower selling items that require unique inventory SKU’s. Focus on existing Signature menu items that your restaurant is known for. Don’t have any? Work with your chef and cooks to develop unique menu items for your eating establishment that can become your Signature recipes. Make sure they are popular, easy to execute consistently, fast to produce (think table turns when you have reduced seating) and are profitable.
Review your inventory—a simple rule of thumb is to only stock those inventory items that are used in at least 5 dishes or account for at least 5% of sales. This takes as much discipline as skinnying down the menu. It’s hard work, but restaurant people are creative and are not afraid of a challenge.
Review your kitchen—is it safe? Is there enough room between stations to allow at least 6 feet between co-workers? Do you need to put up plastic shields to separate stations or will protective personal equipment suffice? Check your equipment and procedures. Are there ways you can reduce GET’s (guest experience time) to move more people through the restaurant more quickly, particularly at peak dining times? With reduced capacity, table turns (and take out) this will be critically important.
Change and adapt to new cooking styles and equipment—consider modifying your cooking style and techniques to incorporate sous vide, Instant Pot and microwave cooking to reduce kitchen staff, decrease GET’s and still produce great, consistent food every time.
Review your dining room—is it possible to maximize seating by adding physical barriers around tables and booths? Protective barriers may enable you to include a couple of extra safe and legal seats. Your guests want to feel safe when coming to your establishment or they won’t come.
Review the need for protective gear—in the beginning of this pandemic we were told masks were unnecessary—that was not true. We think that authorities were simply trying to prevent a run on them when they were so critical for medical staff and first responders. Now, there is no question—masks save lives. Wearing a mask helps protect you and others and is recommended by the CDC when in public, especially in enclosed spaces like restaurants.
In short order there should be enough PPE (i.e., surgical masks and N95 masks) for every need, but cloth face coverings will suffice for us non-healthcare professionals. Have your uniform designer create a signature design or logo’d restaurant face mask (or a series of them) If designer-y or fun enough, sell them to your guests as another source of revenue.
It’s important to wear face masks anytime you will be around other people, especially when ideal social distancing is not possible. A significant number of cases of COVID-19 have been as a result of contact with people who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. It’s a good precautionary measure to wear a face mask to try to trap virus particles that you may be exhaling. Although face masks are not perfect, they do seem to potentially have some effect on risk, so it’s a best practice. It’s important to note that while cloth face coverings are not 100% effective in preventing the transmission of the virus, the physical barrier is believed to slow community transmission, explains the CDC.
Communicate with respect, patience, empathy and hospitality—now, more than ever, you will need patience and a calm demeanor to make your staff and guests feel comfortable. Both groups will look to you as an example of how and what to do. You won’t have all the answers, but if you speak honestly and respectfully with your team, and include them in offering up ideas, you won’t feel so alone, and they will feel that they are part of the solution. Even your guests may have suggestions for you. All input should be welcome. Of course, not every exchange will be positive… so take a breath, count to 10 and remain calm as you try to address complaints, concerns and issues that will inevitably arise.
Check your uniforms—there was a time in this country when every restaurant co-worker wore a clean uniform every day. More recently, but before the virus crisis, most co-workers just wore their own street pants and maybe a shirt or apron (sometimes not very clean) that they carried in.
Now, uniforms must be as clean as the restaurant in order for guests to believe the restaurant is doing all in their power to keep the establishment clean, sanitized and populated by immaculate co-workers. If you can afford it, you might want to consider a change in uniform style or color to signal a change to your co-workers and guests. Most importantly, impress upon your staff, both front and back-of-house, the critical need to start with clean, freshly laundered and ironed uniforms (including face masks) every day.
Make the best of technology—consider contactless payment systems, automated ordering systems, mobile ordering apps, frequent website updates. Find innovative ways to reduce the need for personal contact.
Stay current—Make sure your establishment meets critical FDA and local health department standards. Renew your memberships in your State and National Restaurant Association so you can stay abreast of all changes and requirements—they are your best source of information.
What does the FDA require?
Good sense requires:
Things to consider to safely reopen a restaurant:
Some guests will be slow to return… if you have a mailing list contact these people and let them know the changes that have been made to make their visit both safe and enjoyable. Offer them a re-introduction coupon to prompt trial.
Some people will be reluctant to visit because of financial consequences from the pandemic—keep them in your thoughts and communications. They may come back as the economy improves.
There are only four strategies for building sales; these apply to virtually any retail category:
Who is PERSPECTIVES/The Consulting Group, Inc.?
Perspectives is an international consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles. We have been providing comprehensive services to the hospitality industry (upscale, mid-scale and fast food restaurants, hotels, resorts, casinos, theme parks, supermarkets, specialty and convenience stores, airlines, and cruise lines), food manufacturing, processing and distribution companies, for over forty years.
Perspectives' team of experts work step-by-step with our clients developing dynamic and innovative products and concepts for the food and hospitality industries. We understand the symbiotic relationship that must exist between internal assets and external variables. That understanding, combined with our customized research and thorough analyses, makes our client’s goals achievable.
Our expertise and experience encompass the following disciplines:
PERSPECTIVES/The Consulting Group, Inc.
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ow you doin’? If you’re like me, you’re not going out much these days, but occasionally field trips are necessary. No one wants to bring any nasty germs into your home and possibly infecting yourself or those you care about. I ran across this excellent list of things you should due as soon as you return home and wanted to share it with you. Thanks to Ashley Abramson and the folks at Apartment Therapy where I saw it posted.
Keep in mind... first, if you’re carrying Covid-19 virus but don’t have symptoms yet, you could spread it to other vulnerable people. Secondly, you’re exposing yourself to other people’s nasty germs. If you’re not vigilant when coming back home from your field trips, you or your loved ones might be inadvertently infected.
Fortunately, with a little strategy (and lots of hand washing and disinfecting), you can reduce the likelihood of transferring viruses and bacteria into your home. Here are five expert-backed steps to follow every time you walk in your door.
1. Sanitize your hands before entering the house.
Anytime you’re outside your home, be mindful of the germs on your hands. Avoid touching your face until you can wash them, and if possible, keep hand sanitizer with you so you don’t leave potentially harmful pathogens on your car’s steering wheel or a doorknob going into your home. Dr. Elizabeth Scott, professor of microbiology at Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston, says she always tries to keep hand sanitizer with her. When she’s out and about, she uses it in two scenarios. “If I am out in my car, I sanitize my hands as soon as I get back into the car following essential trips to the store,” she says. “Or, If I am just walking back into the house, I sanitize my hands before I enter.”
2. Put your haul on the floor and hang up your bag and keys.
Grocery store hauls require a whole other level of vigilance. Since germs can live on surfaces like bags for several hours, don’t put your groceries on the counter unless you plan to disinfect thoroughly immediately after. Same goes for the just-delivered packages you might normally put on the kitchen table.
After she sanitizes her hands and gets in the house, Dr. Scott says she puts her bags on the floor until she deals with the next couple of germ-fighting steps. While you’re at it, you can hang your purse or bag on a hook with your keys or put them wherever you normally do, as long as you’re not cross-contaminating high-contact areas like your counter or dining room table.
3. Take off dirty shoes and clothes.
No matter where you ventured to, your shoes and clothes are also potential germ-carriers. Scott always takes her shoes and jacket off when she gets home and quarantines them to their own, designated area). If you want to be extra careful, you can change into a fresh set of clothes, too. Just make sure you put your soiled clothes directly in the hamper or wash clothes right away.
4. Wash your hands thoroughly, then unpack your things.
Now that your dirty clothes are off your body, it’s time to remove the germs from your hands so you don’t transfer them to all the surfaces you’re about to touch in your home. After you’ve washed your hands, you can put away groceries or open the mail. If you just went outside for a walk and you’re sure your hands are clean, then Scott says you’re free to relax!
5. Disinfect if needed or wash your hands again.
For grocery-buyers, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly again after you touch all the food you put away. If you accidentally set potentially germ-ridden items on your counter, or potentially contaminated your doorknob or cabinet handles, practice targeted hygiene and disinfect those surfaces immediately with a bleach or alcohol-based cleaner. But Dr. Scott recommends laying off the hand sanitizer once you’re inside the house, since supply is limited and you’ll need it when you go out again. Plus, soap and water are more effective for your hands when you have access to it.
*This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy; by Ashley Abramson
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How you, doin’? We are learning something new every day about Covid-19 and how it affects us. While many of us have been waiting in lines shopping for brand name sanitizers and disinfectants only to find the shelves are bare, how many of us asked will it work on the current coronavirus? The fact is, if we see a brand name like Clorox, Lysol, or any one of the myriad products from others, we assume that they are safe for sanitizing or disinfecting the Covid-19 virus—it may not be so. This Special Edition post is directed to our food manufacturing and restaurant clients.
I received a white paper from our primary lab, Deibel Laboratories (a trusted source), this morning, What’s the difference between sanitizers and disinfectants? More importantly, do they work against the COVID-19 Virus? This is good information for anyone but especially if you are in senior management or part of a production or quality assurance team.
Sanitizers and disinfectants used on inanimate surfaces are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are certified to meet certain pre-defined criteria. By law, a chemical product cannot be labeled as a sanitizer or a disinfectant unless, and until, it is EPA certified.
In a class of their own, topical antiseptic products including hand sanitizers, wipes and antibacterial soaps, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because they are used in or on living humans or animals. They are over-the-counter drugs and the active ingredients in these products must be proven to be safe and effective.
What’s the Difference Between Sanitizers, Disinfectants and Cleaners? The terms cleaner, sanitizer and disinfectant are often confused.
Time to kill or reduce… The time it takes to kill target organisms, also called the “dwell time” must also be listed on a product’s label.
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has made it hard to procure sanitizers and disinfectants that were readily available prior to the pandemic. This has especially been the case for hand sanitizers. To help prevent sanitizer shortages, the EPA and FDA are taking actions to ease the production and availability of EPA registered surface disinfectants and sanitizers and FDA regulated hand (topical) sanitizers.
EPA requires the source of active ingredients in disinfectants to have EPA approval prior to product manufacture. However, EPA is temporarily allowing registered disinfectant producers to source certain active ingredients from alternative suppliers if they inform EPA and the resulting formulation is chemically similar to the current formulation.
The FDA has taken action to increase the supply of hand sanitizers. One new policy allows pharmacists in state-licensed pharmacies or federal facilities to prepare alcohol-based hand sanitizers for consumer and health care personnel without FDA regulatory action for the duration of the public health emergency.
Additionally, FDA is temporarily allowing preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products by any firm registered as an over-the-counter drug manufacturer. However, FDA requires the use of a formulation specified by both the FDA and WHO shown below.
Reference: Reference WHO and FDA.
This White Paper was compiled by Ryan Maus and Laurie Post
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind.
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