What To Do With Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving  is next week in the States (Canada already had theirs), so I thought it would be a good time to bring up what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers.

I mean, really, if you are like me, you get tired of the same old leftovers about Saturday night. Yet, there is still so much there!

Well, you could freeze most of it. I do. I freeze the turkey and stuffing. If you don’t want to freeze it, you just want to use it up and get it over with, I have a few recipe ideas you might consider.

The turkey, of course, can be used in many recipes that use chicken or even beef. But what about that stuffing or mashed potatoes? Or even the vegetables? Or that old standby, cranberry sauce?

Here are a few ideas I thought to share with you.

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To use up some of that turkey, vegetables, and even the mashed potatoes, make a Shepherds Pie. Bam! You have used lots of the leftovers in one dish and you wouldn’t even know it’s leftovers when you eat it.

Ok, how about the cranberry sauce? I found a place that lists all sorts of ideas and they all sound amazing! How about using it as a jam on toast? Well, go to this website and get some ideas!

How about the gravy? I always make way too much gravy as the husband and I both love it. With the leftovers, I freeze it and use it as a base in soups, as it works pretty darn good that way. Go here for some more ideas on what to do it all that yummy gravy.

I know a lot of people love their sweet potato casserole. But what to do with those leftovers? Here’s a recipe for making biscuits out of them, even if they have the marshmallow topping!

Now my favorite is the Thanksgiving stuffing. I love that stuff, so I make lots of it, but what to do with the leftovers? I mean, it’s flavored bread……well, here’s some ideas for you that goes from breakfast hash to bacon wrapped stuffing bites to stuffed mushrooms. This site has eighteen recipes to share with you. Go take a look.

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Do you have ideas for those Thanksgiving leftovers? Let us know!

 

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When to Buy What

I’ve traveled the web for hours looking at puppies looking for new ways to save money. Although I’m a Thrifty Diva, I also admit that there is much more that I need to learn!

I found this simple to follow guide on when the best times are to buy certain things.

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It seems to me that July is not only temputure hot, it’s also a hot time to buy almost anything.

I’ll keep that in mind when I’m ready to buy my next Mercedes.

If you have any thoughts, please leave us a comment! We love comments!

Grocery Store Savings

I admit I spend more than I should at the grocery store. I’m guilty as charged. It’s so easy to do!

I go in for a couple of things and go out with way more than I should and I hate grocery shopping! But…I am trying to do better. And you can too. Unless you’re one of those kind of shoppers…..you know….you go in the store and come out with ONLY what you need.

Show offs.

Anyway, I’ve been scouring the interweb for tips on how to become a better shopper. I love research. I hate shopping. I know, I know. I’m weird.

Here’s some tips I came away with, hope they help us all.

Don't shop with kids either! They convince you to buy things you don't need!

Don’t shop with kids either! They convince you to buy things you don’t need!

 

Make a shopping list. Now I do this all the time. Only because I’m old and my memory is not as it used to be. Unfortunately, I sometimes forget the damn list. Sighhhhh. The good thing is…I do make the list and most times do remember to take it with me. It helps so much to just get what’s on the list and not extras. I know my grocery store as well as I know my home. I know where everything is and just go and grab what I need. Most times……..

Don’t go to the store hungry. I’m sure you’ve all heard this one. It is so true. I can vouch for it. Last week I made that mistake and went hungry. I ended up buying twice as much as I planned. Stupid. Have a snack before you go or go just after you’ve eaten lunch. I don’t eat breakfast but I prefer to do my shopping in the mornings. I need to have a snack before I go. An apple, a carrot…something.

Check the upper and lower shelves for cheaper items. I do this a lot and it’s true! There are cheaper items on the upper or lower shelves. In the store I shop at, it’s usually the upper. I’m vertically challenged, folks. The upper shelves are hard for me to reach, so of course, that’s where the cheaper items I want are. I think it’s a conspiracy.  I ask complete strangers (especially the good-looking young men) to get me the items on the top shelf. Most people are very helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You never know when you might find a new friend.

Don’t buy your toiletries from your grocery store. I usually don’t. There is a nice Shopper’s Drug Mart right across the street from the grocery store and their prices for my toiletries are usually lower. I know it’s much more convenient to buy them when you are grocery shopping but try to refrain. You can save some serious cash buying them at the drug store.

Plan a weekly menu. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not. At least for me. Hopefully for you. I try to plan my meals for the week. I usually can. Then I make a list of the items I need and buy those items. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out but I still have those items for next week. I do tend to save some money doing this, so it’s all good.

Buy generic. I do this often. I have found that most name brands also manufacture a ‘generic’ or ‘no-name’ brand. It’s the same stuff usually just under a different name. Get into the habit of reading labels. You’ll be surprised. Pleasantly.

Don’t buy pre-cut stuff. I know buying that bag of salad is easier for you. Try to resist. It’s so much cheaper and fresher to just buy a head of lettuce and clean and chop it up yourself. Same with the carrots, cheese and other stuff that you can either buy shredded, chopped or peeled. Do it yourself! Yes, it might take some or your precious time and effort but it will save you bunches. (see what I did there? ha!)

She's way to happy to be grocery shopping!

She’s way too happy to be grocery shopping!

 

Those are some of my suggestions. I bet you have some of your own, don’t you? Let us know in the comment section! 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Expired Foods Safe To Eat?

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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!

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!

Dining Out on a Budget

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No matter how broke we were, Friday was always “dining out” night when I was a kid. Somehow, my parents were able to pull this off every week. We’d order a pizza, go to McDonalds, or to an affordable family restaurant. I would always get the cheeseburger and fries off of the children’s menu.

It was our splurge for the week. As much as we enjoyed my mom’s cooking, dinner out was a special occasion. (Not to mention a well deserved break for our mom.)

It’s not that difficult to find a decent restaurant to visit at least once or twice a month to give you that feeling of treating yourself. We all deserve that, no matter what our bank account looks like.

Here are a few tips…

  • Ask around. Most people love to share where they go for an affordable tasty dinner.
  • Check out the appetizer menu. Despite what anyone says, onion rings can be an entire meal.
  • Find a place that doesn’t upcharge you for salad, soup, bread and side dishes.
  • Ask for water to save extra money.
  • If you’re old enough, order something from the senior menu. Sadly, I have a few more years before I can do this. Boo.
  • Tip nicely and be amazed when your regular waitress doesn’t charge you for coffee and throws in an extra roll. (This actually happened.)

And remember, always use a napkin and excuse yourself when you belch.

Do you have any tips on dining out on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

Cowboy Fuel

I’d like to share a recipe from Ladybuggz aka Teresa, a long time blog friend of mine.

If you’d like to share a budget friendly recipe, please email either Jackie or myself.

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I call this recipe Beef, Beans & Biscuits or Cowboy Fuel!
Most of us on a small budget have these ingredients in our fridge and pantry….it’s a rib sticking, great meal!
Ingredients needed: Ground Beef, Onion, BBQ Sauce, Brown Sugar, Salt, Refrigerated Biscuit Dough (premade) or make your own… 1/2 cup of Shredded Cheese (your choice/or not). You can also add more veggies to it if you have them..like celery, carrots, & green  pepper.
cowboy
Step 1:
-Use as much Ground Beef as your family usually uses……
-dice 1/2 medium  onion or more (to your liking)
-Brown Ground Beef and Onion together…Keep on low
Step 2:
-Add 3/4 cup of your fav. BBQ Sauce to the beef and onion mix & next  3 ingredients
-Add 2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar/ or what ever sugar you have on hand
-Add 1/2 tsp Salt
-Mix in 1- 16oz can of your fav. Baked Beans, bring to a gentle simmer….
Step 3:
Pour meat and bean mixture into a casserole dish big enough for all to fit! (or see end of step 4 for alternative).
Step 4:
-Either Make or use pre packaged Biscuit Dough, place Biscuit’s on top of beef and bean mix, cover with 1/2 shredded cheese and bake according to Biscuit recipe. Or bake biscuits separately and keep meat mix hot on top of stove ( I do this to keep bottom of biscuits from getting soggy).
This will fill your bellies and keep your house warm in more way’s than one!
Enjoy!
Thanks Merry and Jackie for considering this recipe for your new site!
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You’re welcome, Teresa! I’ll have to give this one a try (and light a candle!)

Use Your Freezer to Save Money

If you don’t already own a separate freezer from the one in your refrigerator think seriously about investing in one. They are a huge money saver in the long run, even if you are single or it’s just you and husband.

There are so many things you can freeze, even things you were told weren’t freezable. I experiment with mine, most times it works out, rarely it doesn’t.  I freeze everything from soup to nuts…literally.

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How many of you were told you can’t freeze cheese? I was told that when I was younger. I freeze cheese. Cheese is expensive, so when I find it on sale I buy extra and then shred it (if it isn’t shredded already) and freeze it. Works great when all you need is a little cheese for your recipe. I even use shredded cheese to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Works great as it doesn’t take as long to melt as sliced.

Here is a list of other foods you can freeze……..

Nuts: These are great for the freezer! Freezing them keeps them fresh for months. Nuts have oils in them, freezing them keeps the oil from getting rancid. They only take a few minutes to thaw.

Rice: Cooked or uncooked. I mostly freeze cooked rice. It freezes great and reheats like a champ with a couple of spoonfuls of water. I use cooked frozen rice in lots of recipes. Stir fried rice and soup comes to mind.

Bananas: I’ve frozen bananas for smoothies and banana bread. They work great frozen! (or thawed)

Bacon: I freeze bacon all the time. If you only need a few slices at a time…freeze it that way. It thaws out quickly.

Fresh herbs: I do this quite often too. Most recipes only call for a small amount of fresh herbs, so freeze the rest! Most herbs freeze quite well. I wash the herbs and pat them dry with paper towels, then I lay them flat on a pan and stick it in the freezer for a while. When they are frozen I put them in a freezer bag. That way you can take out as much as you need when you need it. They last for months in the freezer.

Chips: Yes, I’m talking potato chips here. If you buy a big bag, or several smaller bags they can be stored in the freezer. Chips like nuts have oils on them (duhh!) so if you only eat a few chips at a time, store your tightly sealed bag in the freezer! They can last for months, even an opened bag.

Flour: Actually if you are a big time baker you might know this one. Flour last for months in the freezer and professional bakers store it there as it works better in most baking recipes. Go figure!

Eggs: Store them in the freezer without their shells. You can also store the yolks and whites separate! Or you can whip them together (like you would for scrambled eggs) and store them that way.

Chocolate: Now who doesn’t crave chocolate? Even I do on occasion! But…there is a trick to freezing chocolate. If you stick a hunk of chocolate in the freezer straight from the store it will become crumbly when you take it out to take a bit of it later. First, stick it in the refrigerator for a day, then stick it in the freezer. Comes out perfect!

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Have any other freezer tips? Let us know in the comment section!

 

 

 

 

Is Buying in Bulk Worth It?

Is buying in bulk worth it? Simple answer…Yes and no.

Buying some things in bulk is well worth it. Some other things not so much. As to what to buy, well, meat is good to buy in bulk. Especially since that’s one of the biggest costs in a family’s food budget.

Can stuff is great to buy in bulk. I have two big shelves in my mud room full of can foods. From soups to vegetables, I have them.

I realize better than most that buying ‘extra’ food is hard for lots of people. The budget will only stretch so far. I know. I get that. BUT……if you figure in your budget to buy extra once a shopping trip, you’ll have that pantry filled up in no time with extras.

And it won’t break the budget to do so.

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Also, if you can, invest in a machine that lets you wrap that extra meat or dry products. I use a Food Saver machine. It’s a bit of an expense at first but sure pays for itself quickly. If you can, ask relatives to chip in together and buy it for you for your birthday or Christmas. That way you get something you really want and need and there is no outlay of money on your end.

Also, if you qualify financially,  go to a food bank. There’s no shame in it and it doesn’t have to last forever. They are a good source for can goods and dry goods. You don’t always get to pick what you get but whatever they give you can come in handy down the road.

Now comes the question of what you should buy in bulk.  I’ve broken it down and added why it makes a good idea to buy it in bulk. Look for coupons if you use them. I go online for my favorite grocery store and see what kind of sales they have.

If you can, shop at stores that have good weekly sales. It’s very competitive out there. Do your homework. It doesn’t take much. And hell, you’re usually online anyway, right?

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If you have a store like Costco, or Sam’s those are great places to buy bulk. I can’t afford the yearly fee that Costco here charges and since it’s just me and the husband I don’t shop there. But, if you have a family, those kind of places are wonderful.

Oh, and don’t forget about dollar stores. I have a great one near me that sells food items. I buy bulk gravy mixes and some can goods. I can also buy pet food and treats at a great price. Investigate your dollar stores, they aren’t all the same.

Ok, now down to what to buy in bulk.

Toilet Paper: This is always a great item to bulk buy. People use it every day.  It can be stored under the sink, in the linen closet, even under the bed in plastic tubs.

Shampoo: Again it’s something you use all the time. It’s easy enough to store too.

Dry Beans: Ah, one of my favorites. Dry beans can be kept in tightly sealed bags or plastic containers for very long periods of time. They are super easy to cook and are one of the most versatile things out there.

Pasta: Another favorite. Again it can be stored almost indefinitely in tightly sealed bags or containers and is something we probably all use quite often. Like beans, it can be used for salads, soups, casseroles, you name it, pasta has been there.

Oatmeal: I have lots of oatmeal on  hand. It’s great for breakfast or making cookies. It’s cheap and if you look online there are all sorts of things you can do with this ingredient. From cooking to cleaning it’s a gem to have on hand. It’s also cheap and easy to store.

Trash bags: Here is one item that most people don’t think of when buying in bulk. Everyone knows how expensive they can be. My advice….buy good ones. If you buy the cheap ones they usually split when they are full and you have to use two bags. That is NOT saving you money. Buy the good ones like Glad or even try your store brand kind. Some are good and some are not. If you find a good store brand type you’ve struck gold. They are usually cheaper. When you see trash bags on sale grab an extra box of them. You always need them and it will save you money down the road.

Toothpaste: This is another item most people don’t think about. But, it’s easy to store and you use it daily. Unless you’re like my husband and don’t have any of your own teeth, then just pass this one by. 😉

Can soup: Cream soups are always a good buy and lots of people use them in cooking. I have one whole cupboard full of extra can soups and vegetables. It took me a couple of years to stock that much but between the food bank and good sales I now  have them.

Laundry Soap: Again, something everyone uses quite often. If you find a good sale grab an extra box or bottle and stick it in a closet. The same goes for dishwashing soap.

Meat: Well, duh, this is a given. Even if right now you don’t have a food saving machine it’s always a good idea to stock up on meat and poultry.

If you live somewhere that has a nice cool basement. Potatoes and onions are great bulk buys and can be stored in the basement for very long periods of time.

You don’t have to buy things all at once. It’s taken me a few years to work up to a full pantry. I also have an extra closet that I use for dry goods to store. I have shelves too that are dedicated to just extra can goods. It can be done. Try it.

 

Hope this article helped some of you and if you have any ideas let me and Mer know!