Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Food Safety

Seven Super Steps to Safe Food In the Summer
During warm weather, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer weather conditions may be ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues, but they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Follow the suggestions below to Fight BAC!® (foodborne bacteria) and reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer.
  1. Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice to get a sense of how long you should wash.
  2. Marinating Mandate. Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  3. Hot, Hot, Hot. When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  4. Temperature Gauge. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
  5. Where's the Beef? Chicken and Fish? Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 ºF for medium rare or to 160 ºF for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
  6. Stay Away from that Same Old Plate. When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that held raw food, unless it has been washed with hot water and soap first. And in hot weather (above 90°F) foods should never sit out for more than one hour before going in the refrigerator.
  1. Icebox Etiquette. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. Keep the cooler out of the direct sun. Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Saving Money on Groceries

MainSave money on groceries 

Prices for groceries and personal care items seem to rise continually.  Many consumers struggle to keep these expenses down without resorting to extreme couponing.
Here is one solution on how to accomplish this:
1.     Decide on a few items that you buy regularly, such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, peanut butter, or spaghetti sauce.  Keep this list small initially and expand it when you are ready.
2.     Using a small note book, Smart phone app, or Excel spreadsheet, make a note of the non-advertised price of each item along with size, per unit cost, and store where you are shopping. 
3.     Buy the Sunday local paper for the coupons and advertisements.  Look at the specials for drug stores, in addition to the supermarkets.
4.     Coupon clip for the few items on your short list. Sometimes, supermarkets wait a week or two to offer a discount on items that have coupons. Be patient and wait for the sale.  Use your price list as a guide for the best offering. Make notes on your price sheet.
5.     If you receive a good deal, buy for several weeks or months ahead.  Make sure you keep track of your stockpiled items.  Keep a maximum of three to six months of each item until you know how quickly the supply needs to be replenished.
Should you continue and add more items, you may ultimately buy only fresh items like fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish each week, while buying everything else at discounted prices. Following this simple program should help your grocery budget.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Saving for College

Saving For College: Graduating With the Least Amount of Debt

By June most recent high school graduates know what college they are going to, but many of them may still not know how they are going to pay for it. We’ve heard the stats that the average debt students have upon graduation has skyrocketed to $35,200, according to a recent Fidelity survey, and that the costs of attending college increase 6% each year. College is still a great investment for most students, especially with some planning ahead of time to help keep debt to a minimum. It’s still true that those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1 Million more over their lifetime than those who only complete high school.

The challenge is to graduate with as little debt as possible. Here are three ways to help keep student debt to a minimum:

1.       Create a College Savings Plan

Just like savings for retirement, it’s good to save early and often. There are many ways out there to help you save, from a 529 account to Savings Bonds. Tip to find extra money to save: If you can save an extra $300 a year ($25 a month at 5% interest, compounded monthly for 18 years) you will have an extra $8,766.43 to put towards tuition bills.

Haven’t created a college savings plan yet? Pledge to Save with America Saves and you can set your savings goal and create a plan to reach it. You can even sign up for text message tips and reminders to help you reach your goal of saving for college.

2.       Shop Around For Schools and Free Money

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a tool to compare the costs of different colleges. Their tool will let you compare financial aid offers so you can see how all those numbers impact your payments down the road.

Apply for as many scholarships as you can. $500 here and $1,000 there can go a long way to helping pay for college. Many students also stop looking for scholarships once they enter college, but keep applying each year.

 3.        Find Ways to Reduce Spending (or Earn Money) While in College

Live at Home – Living on campus can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $9,000 per year. Consider living at home during college (if you can) and you can save nearly $40,000. You can still get a full college experience by joining clubs and being active on campus.

Get a Part-Time Job – Look for a job on campus or a paid internship to supplement your income and pay for expenses like food, books, and incidentals while in college. The more you can pay upfront the less your monthly loan payments will be when you graduate.