Many Seniors Are on Fixed Incomes, Saving Money is Where It’s At
“Try not to become a person of success,
but rather try to become a person of value.”
If you live in an area with Daylight Savings Time, November 7th is fast approaching so be sure to set clocks back one hour. I think the general consensus among most Americans is leave our clocks set to one time and forget about the bounce in November and March. Anyway, it’s fall back one hour in autumn and spring ahead one hour in March. Enough about that.
I’m here to give you money and time saving tips for your Thanksgiving meal, aka the granddaddy of all meals. It’s not too early to start preparing.
My Boomerguy and I are hosting friends this year, as family members are going here and there for the holidays.
We decided to go full traditional this Thanksgiving. I am traditional in so many ways but with a twist I try to stay in the present and incorporate some of the more current trends in 2021 and beyond.
I was out this past Sunday morning at Walmart doing some extra shopping for the week and came across a Butterball turkey. Several other shoppers were looking through the bin as well. I placed it in my cart and when I was checking out it was all I could do to fend off people who wanted to take my turkey. I hovered over and protected my prized bird and kindly told them where they could find theirs. Some even left the line and carts to go find their own causing all kinds of disruption.
Well folks I’m here to tell you shopping during this holiday season isn’t going to be like days past. People are scrambling due to fear of shortages and inflation. The price for this Butterball was $1.29 per pound, not bad considering we’ve been told countless times there will be a shortage of turkeys this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see $5.00 per pound in the coming weeks. But you know what, it’s the timing that counts. Get your bird now! In any case, it is always about the side dishes that make the turkey the star attraction.
So, outside of grabbing your traditional turkey, here are a few of my shopping tips:
- My first tip is to make your list as comprehensive as you need…make it a master list. You will soon find that many stores are having difficulty stocking their shelves and bins with products, so you might have to go to more than one shopping experience to get all your goods.
- Splurge selectively. Pick one grocery item to overpay, then budget shop the rest of your sides and ingredients. Maybe it’s the turkey, or ham, or even something exotic like Cornish game hens. If you can’t find the item in the grocery, then order it online. Whatever it is, make room in your freezer because it’s still several weeks until the big day.
- Shop smart. Grocery outlets like Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Safeway and Costco are more affordable than places like Whole Foods or your specialty markets. Make your master list and break it down by store so you can become one of those highly efficient shoppers by getting only what you need at that store, and then move on. For example, Costco has scalloped potatoes that rival homemade. They are also a great source for appetizer plates to serve before your meal, and great dessert assortments for after the meal. Their pumpkin pie is the best, and it can serve large groups. Don’t forget the heavy cream for the topping.
- Don’t aisle shop. I’m so guilty of this, once I arrive at the store I spend more time shopping the aisles than getting what I came for. That my friends is dangerous because you will always buy more and quite possibly things you really don’t need, but they look so good and tantalizing.
- Use fresh ingredients. When possible always try to use to fresh produce and veggies—they will be cheaper than the packaged variety. And who doesn’t like fresh. There are times however when I will substitute stir in paste for my garlic, parsley, basil, and ginger. I like the brand Gourmet Garden.
- Buy alcohol in bulk. Except for your favorite bottle of wine, try to buy your alcohol in larger quantities. Stores like Costco and BevMo are great sources for savings. Because not everyone drinks alcohol, I will serve Martinelli’s. It’s a truly special treat for the younger crowd because they feel special drinking out of the same style wine glasses as the adults. It comes in two flavors sparkling cider and sparkling apple-cranberry cider.
- Sides. These make the meal with each having its own distinct flavor.
Cranberries. My favorite is to use fresh cranberries as a complement to the turkey. You can use the canned version, or you can actually serve both. Here is my tried-and-true recipe for fresh cranberries, usually made the day before your dinner.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water (for a stronger orange flavor, use ½ cup water and ½ cup orange juice)
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- 1-2 tbsp orange zest (adjust to your taste)
- Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse thoroughly, pick out and discard any damaged or bruised berries.
- Boil the water with the sugar in a medium sauce pan and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the cranberries, lower the heat and cook until they burst, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in your orange zest.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and chill in your refrigerator.
- The sauce will thicken and will taste delicious when you serve it up.
Creamed Spinach. So yummy. You can buy a large bulk size package of fresh, pre-washed spinach which actually gives this dish a slight crunch to help balance the rest of the creamy, cheesy texture. This recipe is a take-off of Morton’s Steak House creamed spinach appetizer.
- 2 ¼ pounds of fresh spinach, rather than frozen
- 4 tbsp butter rather than margarine
- 1 medium sweet onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced (or minced jar garlic)
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarse black pepper
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup flour (I use almond flour)
- 3 ½ cups half & half, or 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 oz cream cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- In a large skillet melt the butter with the garlic and onions. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix with a spoon over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the half & half (or heavy cream) until boiling.
- Then add the mozzarella and cream cheeses.
- Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
- Add in the spinach and the parmesan and stir to combine.
- Serve a dollop on your main plate or in a small ramekin.
Clafouti. If you’re not a fan of pumpkin pie try my favorite Thanksgiving treat, a pear Clafouti. It’s a custard based fruit dish, light and delectable for the after-meal.
- 1 tsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar (you can substitute brown gluten free sugar if you like)
- 3 extra large eggs at room temperature
- 6 tbsp all purpose flour (I substitute almond flour)
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
- ¼ tsp salt (I use kosher salt)
- 2 tbsp pear brandy (I substitute with Gran Marnier)
- 3-5 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Butter a 10” x 3 ½” round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tbsp of the sugar.
- Beat the eggs and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- On low speed mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt and choice of brandy.
- Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel, quarter core and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer slightly fanning out from the center of the baking dish.
- Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, usually 35-40 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Sprinkle with Confectioner’s sugar and I also add homemade whipped cream for a little extra flavor.
I hope you find these recipes useful as a complement to your Thanksgiving feast.
One last serving suggestion. As a quick appetizer you might wish to try rosemary baked cashews. This recipe is about as simple as it gets and is a for-sure crowd pleaser. Take two cups of salted cashews and melt 2 tbsp butter with minced rosemary. Mix everything together, then spread the coated cashews on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350°. If you shop Costco, buy your cashews in a large bulk container because I can guarantee you these little morsels will fly off the plate.
Get ready, it’s definitely NOT too early to start your shopping. Good luck finding bargains. They are out there but might disappear the closer we get to T-Day. I would suggest you purchase your vegetables, herbs and fruit the week of Thanksgiving just to ensure maximum freshness.
Next week stay tuned…there will be more planning for this upcoming special dinner, better known as the granddaddy of all meals.
Always be yourself. Don’t ever apologize for it. If you don’t share what’s going on in your heart, think what the world will miss. You are a unique soul with unique gifts. Share, Sing, Write, Create, Inspire and by all means Cook! Your talents could be your calling. Live life with your true purpose.
Michelle Hawk, Editor Wellness Pursuits
I don’t look at cooking and entertaining as a chore. I look at both as a gift of love I can give to my BoomerGuy, family and friends, and now to you through these tips and inspirational themes.
Your #1 BoomerGal, Connie.