You've been away on vacation, relaxing on the beach, the sand between your toes. You enter your house and see it - your microwave clock is flashing. Oh no. There was a power outage while you were away. Then you remember you had a freezer full of meat. How long has the power been out? Is the meat still good? Rather than take a chance, you throw it away. All that money down the drain.

I recently read an article on Newsner that could help in a situation like the above. Before you leave home for an extended period of time, do this: Put a cup of water in your freezer to freeze solid. Then place a quarter or other coin on top of the frozen water and leave it in your freezer. If you suspect there's been a power outage, check the cup. If the coin has dropped to the bottom of the cup, that means all the food has defrosted and you should throw it away. If the coin is still on top or part-way inside, your food may still be okay, still frozen or partially thawed.

This theory, of course, isn't foolproof, and if you are the least bit concerned that your frozen food has gone bad, by all means throw it out.

If anyone has tried this in the past, I'd love to know how it worked for you.