TIP OF THE WEEK
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 email@example.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.