Are Expired Foods Safe To Eat?

canned-food

I recently cleaned out my cupboards and threw away 3 boxes of macaroni and cheese. The dates on them were well past a year. My daughter no longer asks me to make her mac and cheese, which makes me nostalgic.

She loved it when I would cut up hot dogs and mix those in.

My husband noticed the missing boxes and asked me what happened to them. I told him and he got all huffy about it.

“But those were for emergencies, the oh no we have nothing left to eat stash!”

I am weird about expiration dates, I’ll admit it. Having worked in many industrial-sized kitchens and having a mother who is also weird about food going bad, my natural instinct is to toss it out.

I decided to investigate further. I found some information in this article on the topic.

  • ‘Sell by.’ This is the date by which manufacturers suggest that retailers remove the product from shelves. The goal is to ensure quality for a period of time after you buy it. That can be several days to several weeks, depending on the item. For instance, milk, assuming proper refrigeration, should last five to seven days past its sell-by date before turning sour.
  • ‘Best by’ and ‘use by.’ Those terms tell you when to eat (or freeze) a product for the best quality. A jar of salsa may not taste as fresh and tangy as it’s supposed to, for example, and crackers may be soft instead of crisp after those dates.

Hmmm. They might taste funky but not be dangerous to consume.

Maybe I had been a little too quick to discard those boxes of mac and cheese. When you’re really hungry, even powdered cheese sounds like a gourmet meal.

 

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Yum!

 

The next time you go through your cabinets and see that a can of corn is past its due date, I say open it. I wasted at least 3 dollars tossing good mediocre food away, which is not the thrifty diva way.

Do you have any thoughts on expired foods? Let us know in the comments!

Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

I don’t know about you but I like to make my life easier. Could be because I’m just lazy or could be because I’m smart.

Okay, we won’t get too far into the reasons…….

Anyway, I gathered together a few life hacks that might make your life easier too.

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  • You know how hard it is to open blister packs right? Of course you do! I swear everything is in those blasted things and it’s almost impossible to open them. I have almost cut my hand off trying to open one. Then I found an easier way! Use a can opener! Yes, you heard that right. A can opener will zip right through that plastic and let you get what’s inside.
  • Ever have a pot boil over? If you’re like me and multi-task even cooking meals….you have. Stop that by putting a wooden spoon over the top of the uncovered pot and it won’t boil over. Believe me, I’ve tested this one numerous times and it always works.
  • Is your phone battery running low? Need it to charge fast? Put the phone on airplane mode while charging and it will charge up fast!
  • candle
  • If you use post-it notes for note taking, before you throw it away use the sticky end to get crumbs and dust from between the keys of your keyboard. Works great!
  • When you want to nail a small nail in the wall use a clothes pin or a comb to hold the nail. Saves on your fingers being hammered instead.
  • Have a dull knife but no sharpener handy? Use the bottom of a ceramic bowl! The rough bottom edge makes for a great sharpener in a pinch.
  • 17-keys

 

 

 

 

I’m sure you can come up with some others! Please share your life hacks with us!

 

 

 

Lasagna Dip

I found this delicious looking recipe on Facebook and saved the link. It only has 4 ingredients (besides good crusty bread) as well.

We here at The Thrifty Divas are all about easy and affordable recipes!

I can whip up a wonderful lasagna, but it’s a real time-consuming entree to make, what with all of the layering of noodles and such.

But this lasagna dip is a snap to make! I can’t wait to serve this on football game day Sunday! I just know that it’s going to be a hit.

 

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Please wipe your drool on that washcloth over there.

 

Here’s the basic recipe.
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  1. Cook the meat, drain, then add the tomato sauce and simmer for about 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Spread the ricotta over the bottom of a baking dish, the meat sauce and then top the whole shebang with mozzarella cheese.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Put fresh basil (like the song Hey Mickey) on top. (Optional. Just sprinkle some Italian seasoning and call it a day.)

Use crusty bread (or not crusty, it’s cool) as dippers.

Do you think you’ll make this recipe? What would be some alternate versions of this? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Fun Things To Do For Free

Here on Thrifty Divas, we are here to show you ways to save money or to do with less. We also like to have fun, as I’m sure you do also.

So I’ve compiled a list of free or almost free things to do for fun! I know we don’t all have the same idea of what is fun so I’ve tried to make the list pretty varied.

If anyone has any other ideas please let us know in the comment section! Thanks.

 

Visit your local library.  Libraries aren’t just for book lovers. They also have activities going on for all ages! Most libraries have a website you can check out on what activities are going on at what time. I checked out my local library and even though I don’t live in a big city I was amazed at all the things they have going on. From movie nights to ‘Roving Gyms’ for preschoolers.

board-games

Play Board Games. I know board games aren’t for everyone. They are great for families though! Kids usually love board games once you can get them away from the computer. Even couples could benefit from the togetherness that board games give you.

Have cooking lessons or a cook-along! The husband and I used to cook together on weekends when we were first married. We’d try different recipes or just cook dinner together. It was a great way to have conversations and still do something together. You could also teach a child or even a young adult how to cook.

Learn a foreign language.  Believe it or not, there are ways to learn a new language free. Use YouTube for something other than cute cat videos. There are also online sites like Duolingo and Language Zen. A person is never too old to learn something new!

Do some puzzles! Personally, I love crossword puzzles. I know many people are into Sudoku. There are lots of places online that you can find free puzzles to do or find some really cheap puzzle books at your local dollar store.

s-crossword

Scan your old photos. This is something I plan on doing very soon. Most people have a scanner at home. Scan those old family photos (and new) and save them digitally. Not only do you safeguard them you can make a screen saver with them or have them handy for “Throwback Thursday”. Saving old photos on a flash drive or even in a memory cloud is just a good idea as old photos tend to deteriorate and fade over time, maybe even getting destroyed by fire or flood.

Write letters.  Yes, I mean actual pen and paper letters. You can write letters to family members or friends (who doesn’t enjoy getting real mail!) or write a letter to your future children or grandchildren. Even write a letter to your future self!

Attend a dress rehearsal. I saw this somewhere a while back and thought it was a wonderful idea! Many performances hold dress rehearsals before opening night and they let people see them for free! Call your local theaters and ask them if they have open dress rehearsals for any of their shows. Many do! It’s a great experience for kids and even adults who have never experienced a live performance.

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That’s just a few things you can do for free or almost free. I’m sure there are lots more. Hope you enjoyed the list. What do you do for free that’s fun?

 

 

 

Generic Meds Do The Job

Whenever I can, I buy generic over-the-counter cold meds, muscle rubs, cough drops and stomach ache remedies. My local drugstore has their own brand. I’ve found absolutely no difference between name brand cough syrup and Drug Mart cough syrup other than the packaging.

I usually stock up on these items once every three months. That way, when my daughter tells me that she has a headache, I can point to the kitchen cupboard and go back to watching Netflix.

I bought some muscle rub for $4 dollars the other day, instead of paying $9 for the “real” stuff.

muscle-ultra-carton

Non-greasy is an important feature.

It smells like Pepto, but it does an amazing job of helping with my muscle pain/twitching.

If you haven’t been using generic meds, give it a try at least once. You’ll save money, which is what we strive to do here on this blog.

Do you use generic drugs? Let us know in the comments!

Vinegar – The Superhero Liquid!

Vinegar, it’s cheap and it works wonders around your house. There isn’t much this superhero can’t do.

vinegar

I always have a big jug of vinegar in my pantry. It’s a whole lot cheaper and better environmentally than those toxic cleaners, especially if you have kids, pets or allergies.

In fact, get yourself a big container of white vinegar and a big box of baking soda (also cheap) and you will have the ingredients for your superhero!

Here’s a list of just some of the things I use vinegar for:

  1. We’ll start with the obvious. Your coffee machine. Not necessarily your coffee pot. I know of lots of people who only rinse out their coffee pot as they think the build up of coffee stains makes for a better cup of coffee. No, I’m talking about your machine. Water will leave residue inside the machine. The best way of cleaning that is to pour several cups of undiluted white vinegar inside the machine and let it work through. Make sure you rinse your machine out by making several pots of just water, otherwise, your next cup of coffee is going to be spit out.  If you are sitting in front of  your computer, well, that might not be a good thing.
  2. Unclog and deodorize sinks. You know how stinky your kitchen sink drain can be, especially if you have a spouse or kids that pour everything down it and then don’t follow with some water. Believe me when I sympathize with you. As often as you need to pour about 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar down your drains and let them sit in there for a while. Flush with cold water and you’ll have clean drains. Not to mention it’s a lot easier on your drains then that toxic drain cleaner crap that smells terrible.
  3. Make carpet stains disappear. I learned this trick many years ago when the ex and I owned a carpet cleaning business. Fill a spray bottle ( I buy cheap ones at the dollar store) with vinegar and spray on  the stain. You can dilute the vinegar with water also, I usually don’t. I’m a rebel that way. Anyway, spray the stain with vinegar, let it stand for a few minutes and pat dry with a clean cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.
  4. Make water spots from your dishwasher disappear. Put 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. Your dishes will come out sparkling and it helps degrease those pesky greasy plastic ware. It’s so much cheaper than that rinsing stuff you can buy in the store. I can’t believe how expensive that crap is!
  5. Many of you will appreciate this one as winter is coming fast. Fill a spray bottle with three parts white vinegar to one part water and use it to spray on your car’s outer windshield. It keeps frost from forming on them for several weeks. It won’t save you from heavy snowfall but you won’t have to scrape that nasty frost off your windows every day.
  6. Use one cup of vinegar in your clothes washing machine. You will be amazed at the many uses this gives you. A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria in your clothes. It will keep your clothes soft and fresh smelling so you can say goodbye to fabric softener! Added to the last rinse it will keep your clothes lint and static free!
  7. Clean your mini blinds. Make a solution of equal parts white vinegar and hot tap water. Use a clean rag and dampen it with the solution. What I usually do is put the rag in the solution and wring it out really well, then I use the rag on the top and bottom of each slat. Easy peasy.
  8. Clean your microwave. If you have a messy spouse (or kids) that refuse to cover their dishes you have a dirty microwave. An easy way to clean it is to put some vinegar and water in a small dish and heat it up. Let it sit for a few minutes then take the dish out and wipe down the microwave with a sponge or cloth. It not only makes cleaning easier, it makes it smell better too.

cleaning

 

Don’t worry about the smell of vinegar smelling up your house. The smell fades rather quickly and leaves behind a nice clean fragrance.

Also, if you have a cat(s), remember, they hate the smell of vinegar. My cats just leave the room for a while. No problem. It’s not toxic to them, they just hate the smell.

I’m sure there are hundreds of more uses for vinegar. So buy a big bottle and save some money!