I was recently having coffee with a friend when she mentioned that she was a bit leery about some of the items in her freezer because she wasn't sure if they had thawed at any time. It was at this point that I told her about an idea I had seen on the web. Now typically, I take anything I read on the internet claiming to be a brilliant idea, or the best hack ever, with a healthy dose of skepticism and a large grain of salt, but this one actually seems valid.

The premise is simple. You fill a plastic cup with water, leaving a little room on top, and freeze it. After the water is thoroughly frozen, you place a quarter on top and put the cup in the middle of your freezer. If your power goes out, you suspect your freezer might be malfunctioning, or you've been away, it serves as a test to see whether your frozen food items have thawed. If the quarter is still planted at the top, then at no point did the ice thaw, if its sunk just a tiny bit, then you probably had a brief power outage, but it's probably OK to take the gamble and use the food. If the quarter is anywhere near the bottom, you may want to reconsider using it.

Makes sense right? Easy, cheap, and practical. I like it. Now, this won't help my friend know the status of the food currently in her freezer, but it is a handy tip going forward! Keep in mind that this is not an official measure of food safety, but is meant purely as a helpful guideline. When in doubt, always use your best judgement.