You plan and organize and stress over Thanksgiving. You have family coming and you want everything to be perfect..or you are just fixing for your immediately family and you still want everything to be the best that it can be. And it is! The turkey is perfect, the dressing is to die for, and dessert hits the spot. And then it's over. All the hype, worry and preparation, and it is over just like that, AND you are left with a ton of leftovers...ughh. What are you going to do with all of this leftover food? Well, I have gathered a few ideas to help you decide what to do with these things.Read More
No holiday meal would be complete without a decadent dessert or two for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, there are a number of affordable and easy ones you can make at home so you don’t spend a fortune at the bakery.
1. Pumpkin Pie
This is a traditional favorite that makes the most of the autumn pumpkin harvest. Buy pumpkins from a farm, cut in half, roast until tender, and scoop out the pumpkin puree. Each pumpkin should yield several cups, or you can purchase pumpkin pie filling at your local grocery store.
2. Pumpkin Bread / Pumpkin Spice Bread
Pumpkin is very moist and makes a great cake or loaf. You can make it as spicy as you like to suit your taste. You could also frost or glaze it to make it look more festive.
3. Apple Pie
Make the most of the harvest in the orchards with a traditional apple pie. Make a lattice crust and serve with a dollop of cream or ice cream on the side. Making it from scratch means adjusting the seasonings as you like, and you can add raisins, cranberries and more to make it really festive.
4. Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is another healthy but filling dessert option which makes the most of the autumn harvest. Add raisins for sweetness and a cream cheese frosting and some nuts to dress it up.
5. Apple Crumble / Apple Crisp
Instead of a buttery pie crust, use brown sugar, flour and spices as a crumble topping. An apple crisp uses oats. Both are very filling and great with cream or ice cream.
6. Pecan Pie
This classic Southern favorite is festive and tasty. Pecans can be expensive, however, so buy in bulk online. This is one that my husband loves, and I tend to make it more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, because pecans are falling from the trees and readily available. Sometimes I like to make little individual pies, and that is the real favorite!
7. Sweet Potato Pie
This is another classic Southern favorite that is similar to pumpkin pie, but uses yams and their natural sweetness for the pie filling. Making it from scratch means you can season it as you wish.
Cheesecake works well on its own, with chocolate, and with any fruit topping you like. Buy the cream cheese when it is on sale. You can also lighten things up by adding sour cream. There are so many variations of cheesecake, you can't go wrong with this dessert.
9. Chocolate Pie
Chocolate pie is a simple either custard base or pudding-like base with either meringue or whipped cream on top. This is another favorite with my family!
10. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This is a very festive-looking cake thanks to the topping of bright yellow pineapple rings with red maraschino cherries in the center of each ring. Buy canned pineapple and yellow cake mix when it is on sale at your local supermarket.
11. Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon meringue is a combination of an easy lemon custard and a sugary meringue on top. The meringue will require quite a few egg whites, but eggs are inexpensive. Plan another dessert like bread pudding to help use up the unwanted egg yolks from this recipe.
12. Angel Food Cake
This is a light, fluffy cake that gets its texture from egg whites. It is low in calories and an ideal pairing with most fruits.
Home-made desserts are not just less expensive, they are often more delicious than the bought option too. If your family is like mine, we have our favorites, and they are expected to be served at Thanksgiving! Use these ideas to give your guests a real Thanksgiving treat after their wonderful meal.
One of the main things that can help round out a Thanksgiving feast is a good assortment of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There are several ways to offer a variety of drinks and save money if you are prepared to spend the time and effort.
Soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi, Sprite or Seven-Up, are popular at the holidays - especially with children. Buy them at a warehouse club or when the supermarkets have them on sale. I also recommend staying away from the canned ones. They tend to get opened and left sitting around to go flat and basically wasted.
Sodas that mix with other drinks include seltzer, club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, and so on. Seltzer is well-suited to making wine spritzers, which can lower the cost of each drink you serve your guests. Ginger Ale is a great beverage to put in a punch, whether it be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, it gives it that extra fizz of refreshment!
Cranberry juice is a must at Thanksgiving. Orange juice is good for cooking and drinking. Apple juice is also a standard all year round, but particularly in the autumn. Apple cider, which is thicker and cloudier, is ideal for hot apple cider with spices. Look for large bottles of apple juice or bottles of cider at a warehouse club or the supermarket.
Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate
These drinks are a nice way to end the meal. They are also tasty with your dessert course. Avoid single cup coffee makers. Buy grounds and make them in a conventional pot. Use loose leaf tea for more flavor and less chemicals.
Make your own hot chocolate using real milk and cocoa powder. Add a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick if you wish, and a dollop of whipped cream. You can control how much sugar you put in compared with boxed mixes, and your own homemade cocoa will usually work out more cheaply as well. You can also use non-dairy nut milks if you prefer, such as almond or cashew.
The coffee and tea can also be as a base for iced tea and iced coffee.
Milk and Cream
You will most likely need these in a range of recipes. You will also need more milk for coffee, tea, and cocoa. If you have guests staying in your home, you will probably need even more for beverages, cereal, and so on, especially if you have small children visiting. Buy these in bulk at a warehouse club.
These are useful for anyone who is lactose intolerant or vegan. Choose from soy, rice, almond, oat and more. Look in your supermarket, warehouse clubs or buy in bulk online.
Some shopping apps actually give you a discount for the wine and spirits you purchase. Two worth registering with are Checkout 51 and Ibotta.
Happy Drink Making,
One of the best things about a Thanksgiving meal is often the side dishes that go with it. They add color, taste, texture and variety on the plate and they are also a really good way to save money. Plan on serving 4 to 8 ounces of turkey to your guests, but let them load their plates and fill their stomachs with inexpensive side dishes. I love to bring side dishes to our potluck Thanksgiving. And, I love to eat the ones everyone else brings! Here are some great ideas for side dishes that won't break the bank!
1. Flaky Biscuits
Biscuits are great as a bread on the side and perfect for mopping up gravy. They are warm, filling, and the smell when they bake really says it is holiday time. If you can make biscuits from scratch...more power to you. I am a frozen biscuit or canned biscuit kind of girl (especially when I am preparing a BIG meal).
Cornbread is another cheap, easy and filling option. Bake up a few pans of it to use as is, or in other recipes. Use any leftovers at breakfast the next morning. Cornbread is a staple in our cornbread dressing here in the South.
3. Cornbread Stuffing
You can also make stuffing using your own homemade cornbread. Cut it into cubes, toast them, and then cook as you would bread stuffing. If you aren't into making homemade cornbread, it's ok to use the mix and help you get a little further with your preparations. Cornbread mix is not expensive at all. This is what I bring to Thanksgiving at my sister's house and it is a crowd pleaser!
4. Cranberry Sauce
Fresh cranberry sauce is easy to make. When making it yourself, you can adjust the sugar, add orange or apple juice for natural sweetness, and so on. If you choose to use the canned cranberry sauce, it is on sale always around the holidays.
5. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
This cheerful orange vegetable is very cheap and will go a long way towards filling up your guests. Cook in the microwave like a baked potato and top with some brown sugar or cinnamon, or boil up a pot to mash for a sweet potato casserole.
To the mashed sweet potato, add milk, butter, brown sugar and/or maple syrup, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake and eat as is, or add a layer of marshmallows to the top and cook until just brown and puffy. Some people do a crunchy topping that is to die for.
6. Bread Stuffing
Bread stuffing is a great way to use up any stale bread you might have. Make sure it is dry, not moldy. Mix with herbs. Add onions, celery and broth and you have a filling dish to stuff a whole turkey with, or serve on the side.
7. Corn/Corn on the Cob
Corn is very filling, and eating from the cob can be a lot of fun. You can also eat with a little butter, or make your own homemade creamed corn with milk. I like to cut the corn off of the cob and fry it in a skillet with a little butter, salt and pepper...OMG...My sister make a corn casserole that I look forward to every year and it is quick and easy too.
8. Green Bean Casserole
This is a staple on many American holiday tables. Most people make it using canned cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans and a can of French-fried onions. These items are all readily accessible and inexpensive at your local grocery store. If you choose to make them with fresh green beans, that's awesome too! I also bring this to my sister's house and to my in-laws every year. One year I thought maybe they were all tired of it, so I skipped it....won't EVER do that again! I had some family members unhappy with me. Basically, don't fix it if it ain't broke.
9. Potatoes au Gratin
If you want something a bit more elegant for your holiday table, slice up the potatoes thinly and cook them in a creamy cheese sauce.
10. Baked Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes
Nothing could be easier than some baked Idaho potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives, or cheese. They are cheap and filling, and add a restaurant-touch to your homemade meal. If you are more of a mashed potato family, just mash them while they are hot and add your butter, salt and milk to them and voila'! Mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.
So whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or attending a potluck Thanksgiving, these are some great ideas of side dishes that are inexpensive and easy. Add them to your list of goodies to bring or serve and I promise, your guests (or you) will leave with a happy tummy!
Happy Side Dish Making,
The main course will usually be the most expensive part of your Thanksgiving meal, apart from alcohol. Being prepared can help you save money no matter what you decide to serve and what your family and guests prefer. Or, sometimes you just want some variety in your meal or to have some extra meat! In any case, here are 6 main dish ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey-or, in addition to your turkey!Read More
Thanksgiving is 10 days away....oh my. I feel like it snuck up on me...but I have had a ton going on, so maybe that's why? Anyway, some people host the entire Thanksgiving dinner at their home and provide all the food, drinks, everything....well, in my family and my husband's family, we all bring something (1 or 2 things) and it's one big potluck dinner. And, I LOVE it that way. There are certain things that people bring, that I look forward to every year....and I remind them...."you are bringing the sweet potato casserole right?"!Read More
Halloween is coming and y'all I love Halloween...you know why? Well, if you know anything about me, it's the candy!!! I love, love, love candy corn. Like eat bags of it all of September and October. And a Reese's pumpkin....o.m.g. just leave me alone with it because it requires 100% of my attention! You know you were a true trick-or-treater when you can remember suffering through that plastic mask with holes for the eyes, mouth, and nose with an elastic band on the back so your hair could get good and caught up in it.....and by the way, what genius put a little bitty horizontal line for your mouth when the whole point was to eat candy the whole night!?! And the costume was basically you, dressed in your regular clothes, with a plastic something (costume) wrapped and tied behind your back. Oh, good times.Read More
The holidays are coming and what better time to make sure that your pantry is stocked and you are ready to cook! I love the holidays and I so look forward to cooking for my family. What I don't like is getting my mind set on cooking something and not having everything I need to prepare it on hand. Or, in the middle of something, and not having what I need to prepare it. So, I have gathered a list of essentials that you should stock your pantry with you’ll be ready to get cooking!Read More
My youngest daughter plays softball every Thursday night in September and usually 3 games that either start at 5, 6, and 7 or 6, 7, and 8. Which means that we usually make it home around 9 or later. What's the point of your story Jennifer? The point is, that usually I pick up fast food for supper on those nights because I'm not home to fix anything. Well, this past Thursday, I actually got it together and had supper for us when we got home!Read More
Have you had sweet potato fries? I have had them several times in restaurants, but I have never made them myself. So, when Chad brought home some fresh sweet potatoes one night this week, I thought - perfect time to try it out! Now, when you order sweet potato fries at a restaurant, they are usually fried. I do not fry….I am no good at it, and it makes my house stink. My hair picks up any smell, anywhere. If I go in a gas station, I smell like fried food. If I go in a BBQ restaurant, I smell like BBQ. If I go into Subway, I smell like Subway bread the rest of the day….you get the idea. ANYWAY, have I told y’all I have a little bit of ADHD???Read More
School is back up and running here in Louisiana! I wrote a post a few weeks ago about great ideas for your kids lunches so that they don't get bored and tired of the same old thing. Well, I had another thought about bento boxes. I mean, bento boxes are the coolest things ever. I think they make your lunch a little more appealing and are way more exciting looking than a bunch of bags. There are so many to choose from, these are some of my favorites:
1. These little bento boxes are affordable, colorful, and plentiful! There are 7 bento boxes in this pack and I love the bright colors. If you have more than one child to fix a lunch for, you could color coordinate for each kid everyday!
2. This bento box has 5 compartments! I love that. AND, a spoon and fork included with it! It is leakproof and easy for kids to open.
3. This is a two-pack of bento boxes, with 3 compartments, and also includes a spoon. It's durable and easy to open!
4. So this is the Cadillac of bento boxes! It is beautiful. Stainless steel, with 5 sections. But, this is money well spent if you are a serious lunch bringer....like use it everyday lunch bringer. Easy to clean and durable, this bento box will last you a long time!
Any of these boxes would be perfect to pack your lunch or your child's lunch, and they are microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe. AND, they are so cute! I have put together a little cheat sheet to help give you some ideas to put together a fabulous lunch, in your bento box for your child, or yourself, or your niece, or your hubby....you get the idea...:) Do you have a favorite bento box? I'd love to know which one it is!
Sign up here to get your free cheat sheet to fix the perfect bento box lunches every day!
Well, I know we are so close to school starting (ensue screaming and crying)! And what is on everyone's mind is back to school EVERYTHING! Shopping for uniforms or outfits, shoes, backpacks, school supplies and LUNCH! Packing the dreaded lunch box, or bento box!. Sometimes we get stuck in the same old rut, packing the same thing for our kids everyday because we are just fresh out of ideas.
Well, Jennifer to the rescue! I have rounded up quite a few lunch ideas that are quick, easy, and affordable (gasp)! Yep, I am going to help you get ready for back to school lunch packing and organization and all you have to do is read what I've gathered for you below, AND there is even a nice little printable at the end that you will love! I promise, I wouldn't steer you wrong.
Whew, wasn't that awesome? Literally, so many fabulous ideas and you didn't have to think of them! Take some of these ideas and mark that task off of your list for getting ready to go back to school. Take these ideas and your kids will wonder if an alien stole their mom! :)
Happy lunch packing,
So, it was 5:00 on a Thursday night and I had NOTHING planned to cook - (let the gasps begin!). Anyway, I literally knew I had chicken breasts and that was it. So what to do? I did what any good cook/mom would do and hopped on Pinterest! I searched for quick chicken dinners and you know my feed lit up. But, I was skimming for recipes that looked like they had any of the ingredients that I had on hand...and BINGO! Found a hit.
It looked like a winner. I had chicken and rice, and as I hunted my pantry, I realized I had everything else I would need to make it, and got to work. The original recipe calls for dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (which I did not have) and a rotisserie chicken (which I did not have). I did have a packet of dry Italian dressing and some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. My one concern is that my family doesn't really LOVE a casserole. I mean, sometimes they will eat it and suffer through it, but a casserole more than once every two weeks is pushing it. This is my fault, I spoiled them this way. The dietitian in me started cooking for them with my studies in my mind. A protein, 2 starches, a vegetable, a fruit...like I thought had to have all of these components for every meal! And I won't even get into making sure the plate wasn't monochromatic and everything look the same (if you think I am certifiably crazy-I may agree with you)! ADHD alert (geez I can get off topic easily) this is why they are spoiled! Fast forward 23 years and I wish I had made a casserole 4 x a week! They wouldn't know any different. As it is, eating at home is like eating at Picadilly cafeteria-serve you?
But to end this long-winded, no point story, they loved it! Like loved it enough to pack it for their lunches the next day. That is always a sign of a real win for me. If they will eat it for supper AND bring it for lunch the next day - it's a keeper. So, without further adieu, "cracked out" chicken and rice bake. Here is the link for the original recipe and the recipe for the way I made it (with the substituted ingredients) is below.
Oh, and anything named "cracked out" has got to make you want to try it! Here is the link to the original post.
Shortcut Chicken and Rice Bake
Makes: 12 Servings
- 2 cups white rice
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
- 1 can (10-3/4 ounce) Cream of Chicken Soup
- 8-oz sour cream
- 1/2 (1-oz) package dry Italian Dressing Mix
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup real bacon bits
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside
- Cook rice in microwave rice cooker (18 minutes) or in traditional rice cooker
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, chicken soup, sour cream, Italian dressing mix, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, bacon, chicken broth and cooked rice. Spread into prepared pan.
- Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly
- Spread remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top of casserole and bake for 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted.
I promise you that you will love how quick and easy this recipe is and your family will love how it tastes!
We are all thankful for our family, jobs, health, etc. (well, usually, idk about your family or your job-but I am thankful for mine!). Those are the things that give my days substance and that make me feel like I have contributed something to the world. But let's talk about some things that we are thankful for that are let's say a little more......shallow.....but still fulfilling! I'm talking hands down, no question, hands down, freaking convenient!! Things my mother and grandmother would probably frown upon now, but secretly wish they had been able to use it 40 years ago.
Amazon Prime - my first no-regret spot goes to Amazon Prime. Honestly, I can sit on my couch, (or in my car, or at my child's softball game, or in traffic!) and order a gift for someone, something I need for around the house, or 40 rolls of toilet paper! Pay my little money (sometimes my lot of $ depending on what I buy) and it will be dropped off at my doorstep 2 days later! What. The. Heck.? I just saved running around town, going to four different stores, and maybe paying more. (Now, don't get me wrong, I like to support my local businesses here too, but sometimes, I just have to use Amazon!) AND, now I don't even have to exert that EXTRA energy to get up and get on my phone or computer if I don't feel like it. I could just say "Alexa, order more toilet paper"! This could be dangerous.....and Mom, don't tell me you wouldn't have LOVED that when we were little?
Kroger Clicklist or Wal-Mart Pick Up - I haven't used Wal-Mart Pick Up yet, but I hear it is awesome. I can say, that Kroger Clicklist, is the mother of all mothers! The first time I used it, I felt a little guilty....like do I not have time to go get my own groceries? Well, let's just say that after that first little Kroger Clicklist pick up, my mind set changed a little. Like, holy cow! I can drive up to Kroger, call a phone number to tell them what parking space I am in, someone will bring my groceries out to me, AND load them in my car?! And for $5.00? I honestly expected to get home and have 12 bags full of coal.....but it had my ACTUAL groceries in the bags! My world was literally changed forever....(I know that's a little dramatic, but I am a LITTLE dramatic)! Needless to say, Kroger Clicklist is my friend. Like I may have to say in my top 5 list of best friends. One of the best parts that I haven't mentioned is that every week that I use Clicklist I have saved money. Like, sometimes $50 or more. Because I am not strolling the aisles picking up straws that you can make into hearts and organic green juice that I think I'll drink one day but find in the back of my fridge 5 months later. Have I said how much I love this Clicklist??
2. Waitr - Ok, to be totally honest, Waitr doesn't deliver out to where I live in the country. But, we do have WAITR in the city about 8 miles from where I live, and I work in town. So, Waitr may be called very soon. To think I could be at work, order my lunch, and someone else will bring it to me for $5? And not JUST pizza delivery. There are so many options of great restaurants to choose from and your food can be brought to you with a click of a button. My parents live in an assisted living facility, and neither of them can drive, so I've considered using Waitr for them on nights when they can't get a ride to get food, but still want to eat out. (I haven't actually bitten the bullet and done this because a little bitty part of me thinks my mom will think this is a Waitr/Uber combo and ask the driver to bring her to Target! - Do not doubt for one minute that I am being dramatic in this scenario, I am straight up telling the truth. She'll have that driver bringing her food and then "running her by" Target, Steinmart and probably Walmart!) Ok, all this food talk has me hungry - brb.....
3. Mobile Order and Pay at Fast Food Restaurants - Around here, you can get on an app for McDonald's or Chick-Fil-A and then drive over to the restaurant where they have a "special parking spot" for mobile app orders, and they will bring your food out to you. Skip the drive thru, skip the line inside. AND lots of times they have special offers available for just customers who use these apps. It's a win win! Save time - save $!
4. Mobile Banking - OMG, I don't have to get bulky bank statements every month and reconcile my checkbook anymore! Hallelujah!! (This would probably send my parents into orbit because they are still stuck in 1980 and LOVE their checkbook and their bulky bank statements - but to each their own). With a push of a button on my phone, I can check my balance, pay a bill, transfer money to someone else in my family, or even deposit a check....THROUGH THE PHONE!! Have you been to the bank on a Friday afternoon??? I have made my point....now, I have to put some $ in my account! 😃
So I am thankful for these little "shallow" time savers, because they give me a little more time to do what I want to do with my day!
Remember when I wrote about easy and quick weeknight dinners a while back? And I promised to post this recipe for the best fried rice ever??!! Well, I didn't forget! Amazing, I know, I remembered something! Anyway, like I mentioned in that post, my kids and my hubby LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this homemade fried rice.Read More
One of my least favorite things to do is decide what to cook for supper, especially in a rush. So, I have a few go-to dinners that are quick and easy and I usually have the few ingredients I need in my pantry.Read More