TIP OF THE WEEK

The Covington News - - The second front - Beth McAfeeHall­man Colum­nist

Check the cold cases at your gro­cery store for meat that has been price cut an/or re­duced. The sell by date is printed on the front of the pack­age. Sim­ply use the meat by the sell by date. If you aren’t go­ing to use it be­fore the sell by date, freeze it. You can cook it be­fore freez­ing if you like. (Noth­ing saves time like thaw­ing out pre­cooked ground beef crum­bles for a recipe!) Be sure the meat is wrapped prop­erly to pre­vent freezer burn. Wor­ried about meat spoil­ing be­fore you can use it? The USDA Freezer Stor­age Chart be­low can help you main­tain a fru­gal stock­pile of meat. This chart is for qual­ity only. Freezer foods re­main safe in­def­i­nitely.

USDA Freezer Stor­age Chart

Ba­con and Sausage 1 to 2 months

Casseroles 2 to 3 months

Egg whites or egg sub­sti­tutes 12 months

Frozen Din­ners and En­trees 3 to 4 months

Gravy, meat or poul­try 2 to 3 months

Ham, Hot­dogs and Lunch­meats 1 to 2 months

Meat, un­cooked roasts 4 to 12 months

Meat, un­cooked steaks or chops 4 to 12 months

Meat, un­cooked ground 3 to 4 months

Meat, cooked 2 to 3 months

Poul­try, un­cooked whole 12 months

Poul­try, un­cooked parts 9 months

Poul­try, un­cooked giblets 3 to 4 months

Poul­try, cooked 4 months

Soups and Stews 2 to 3 months

Wild game, un­cooked 8 to 12 months

Mama Bee writes a daily blog about fru­gal liv­ing. You can e-mail her at mam­abee@one­fab­u­lous­mama.com. See her col­umn in Sun­day Liv­ing on

We don’t watch a lot of tele­vi­sion around our house. While I think it adds to the whole weird, freaky, an­ti­so­cial homeschool fam­ily per­sona I’ve been de­vel­op­ing my en­tire adult life, the real rea­son is I think tele­vi­sion is highly ad­dic­tive and makes your brain mush. Any screen time can for that mat­ter, but this col­umn isn’t re­ally about that.

This col­umn is about how re­al­ity tele­vi­sion will be the down­fall of Western civ­i­liza­tion. I’ve be­lieved this ever since MTV stopped play­ing videos and started fab­ri­cat­ing a real world based on abra­sive ac­cents and self in­dul­gence. I’ve be­lieved that ever since the no­tion of vot­ing some­one off the is­land came into be­ing. I’ve be­lieved that ever since tal­ent be­came some­thing at­tached to its own tele­phone num­ber, a thing that could be­came greater with each call col­lected. My beef with re­al­ity tele­vi­sion is mainly that it’s ridicu­lous, inane, and so far from re­al­ity that you just want to pop a Zoloft and call it a night.

We don’t have cable, so it’s not a prob­lem to avoid re­al­ity tele­vi­sion. When friends talk “Amer­i­can Idol!” or “Real Housewives,” I zone out and think happy thoughts. Keep­ing it in check by avoid­ing it en­tirely worked un­til now. Now, re­al­ity tele­vi­sion is pok­ing into my world of fru­gal liv­ing with a show called “Ex­treme Coupon­ing.”

The show aired a cou­ple of weeks ago and fea­tured some pretty in­tense folks. Some of them danced that slip­pery slope to hoard­ing bet­ter than oth­ers. All were por­trayed with a dash of freak and a touch of crazy. I fol­low one of these coupon­ers on her blog, The Krazy Coupon Lady. (I’ve al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated how es­pe­cially in­sane she is be­cause of that mis­spelled crazy.) She’s a won­der­ful and gen­er­ous per­son, but she was duped into ap­pear­ing on a show she thought would be called “Coupon Masters.” I was dis­gusted by the clips I saw on­line and the re­views I read, but I put it all be­hind me be­cause this was a one-shot deal, a spe­cial TLC was air­ing and noth­ing more.

Then, TLC an­nounced they are run­ning “Ex­treme Coupon­ing” as a 12-episode se­ries. Oh, we can’t get enough of crazy, can we, Amer­ica?

I run a fru­gal blog on my web­site One­Fab­u­lous­Mama. com. I have a fan page on Face­book with close to 1,700 fol­low­ers. Most ev­ery­one is there be­cause they want to act as good stew­ards of the money they work hard to earn. We talk about money-sav­ing strate­gies, about liv­ing bet­ter on less, about mak­ing pri­or­i­ties for your fam­ily, and about giv­ing back to our com­mu­nity. What we don’t do is hoard, scam, and act like fools., thank you very much, TLC.

I can only hope the net­work de­cides to fo­cus on fam­i­lies who use coupon­ing strate­gies to live bet­ter, fam­i­lies who share with their friends and neigh­bors in the next 12 episodes. (It should be noted that some of the folks on the first show did share their stock­pile with oth­ers.) I can only hope that this show doesn’t turn peo­ple off to the no­tion that fru­gal liv­ing and coupon­ing can make for a bet­ter qual­ity of life, be­cause coupon­ing does just that for my fam­ily.

We live on one teacher’s salary. Af­ter mov­ing to Cov­ing­ton and not find­ing work in my field (I can man­age a theater, write a grant, and help stop the cy­cle of il­lit­er­acy, but those don’t seem to be pay­ing gigs nowa­days.), I had to ramp up my fru­gal ways to ac­com­mo­date my fam­ily of five and our new re­duced in­come.

Ex­treme coupon­ing makes my life fab­u­lous. Sav­ing money doesn’t mean I get to buy more, con­sume more, and want more. It’s all about bal­ance, right? Coupon­ing means I get to be a stay-ath­ome mom who teaches her two youngest kids. I get to work on that novel I’ve been writ­ing in my head my en­tire life. I get to be present for and en­gaged in the lives of my three chil­dren. It means I have the time to know who plays in the band at Al­covy where my hus­band teaches. I have time to know those kids and their fam­i­lies too. It means I can give back to the food bank, the an­i­mal shel­ter, and so many other char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions in a way that one in­come shouldn’t al­low.

Re­al­ity tele­vi­sion is not my re­al­ity. It never has been and it never will be. The hoard­ers, “real” housewives, and sur­vivors on those shows are not who any of us are. They are car­i­ca­tures of what is real. If we buy into the dis­tor­tion, we are in dan­ger of be­com­ing dis­torted our­selves. I know who I am-a wife and mother try­ing to be the very best ver- sion of my­self in a fast paced world of fail­ing economies, ques­tion­able morals, and an over­whelm­ing sense of dis­con­nec­tion. Oh, and I’m fab­u­lous. I am real.

Beth McAfee-Hall­man lives in Cov­ing­ton and can be e-mailed at mam­abee@ one­fab­u­lous­mama.com.

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