It’s time to start cooking Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve started your preparations. No one wants to head over to the crowded, chaotic grocery store now, right? But, what do you do if you don’t have enough eggs or didn’t realize that your recipe called for “apple pie spice?” What is that, anyway?
Here’s a little list that should help you make practical, frugal substitutions just in case you don’t have exactly what your recipe calls for at any time but especially today!
Allspice 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Apple pie spice 1 teaspoon = 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, and either 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger or cloves
Bay leaf 1 whole = 1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
Bread Crumbs, dry 1 cup =
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 cup ground oats
1 cup crushed potato chips
Buttermilk (sour milk) 1 cup =
1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoons vinegar (white or cider) or lemon juice (let stand 5 minutes before using)
1 cup milk plus 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup mild-flavored soy milk, plus 1 tablespoons vinegar (white or cider) or lemon juice (let stand 5 minutes before using)
1 cup plain or low fat yogurt
1 cup sour cream
Coconut milk, canned 1 cup = 1 cup whole milk
Cornstarch (for thickening) 1 tablespoon =
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon granulated tapioca
1 tablespoon potato or rice starch
1 tablespoon arrowroot
4 teaspoon instant tapioca
Cream, half-and-half 1 cup =
1/2 cup whole milk, plus 1/2 cup light cream
7/8 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
3 tablespoons oil plus enough milk to equal 1 cup
1/2 cup coffee cream plus 1/2 cup milk
Cream cheese 1 cup =
1 cup pureed cottage cheese
1 cup plain yogurt, strained overnight in a cheesecloth
Garlic 1 clove, small =
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt (reduce amount salt called for in recipe)
Pumpkin pie spice 1 teaspoon =
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!
We’re just days away! Are you as excited (and as a bit nervous) as I am? So much to prepare for one meal. Yet all eyes are on that turkey. Over the years I’ve managed to cook some very dry turkey and somehow managed to cook some pretty good turkey as well. While my husband and I have already started talking about the leftovers we’re looking forward to, I’m also thinking about making sure we have a pretty good initial meal with our friends on the big day.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare a delicious turkey for Thanksgiving.
1. If you have a frozen turkey, make sure you give it enough time to thaw out in the refrigerator. I took my 15 pound turkey out of the freezer yesterday. You need to calculate 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. If you plan to cook a frozen turkey and haven’t already put it in the refrigerator, do it right now…. You’re welcome.
2. Pat dry your turkey before cooking. Whether you use a wet or dry brine or no brine at all, pat dry your turkey’s skin before cooking in order to help it cook evenly and prevent getting dry.
3. Leave at room temperature before cooking. Thirty to sixty minutes before actually putting your turkey in the oven, take it out and let it sit at room temperature. This just allows the bird’s temperature to even out so as to not get dry while it’s cooking.
4. Don’t touch that oven door. It’s so tempting to open the oven door to check on the turkey as it takes forever and a day to be ready. However, every time you open the oven door, you let heat out of the oven. It ends up increasing the time the bird needs to cook and it also makes it more likely for you to end up with a turkey that is thirsty for gravy. Open the oven only when necessary: to check if the it is ready or to baste it.
What else do you do to make sure you have a great tasting turkey on Thanksgiving?
At the start of every gardening season, my husband asks me what I’d like to have in the garden for that season. Because I discovered a new love for cabbage last season, I asked for more cabbage this season. The only problem was that, for whatever reason, it was difficult to find the cabbage seeds we were looking for at the time we were actually planting seeds. Instead, my husband picked up bok choy seeds. So, we got bok choy. Lots of it!
Get the picture? The bok choy is what has taken over in the middle of the garden. It’s kinda crazy. I never planned on making a lot of Asian food. But we didn’t want to see all that food go to waste. So…
Almost every day, I pick at least one of the bok choy plants.
I prepare it for chopping. (They’re pretty, aren’t they?)
If you look at the chopped leaves (not the stems), what does it remind you of?
Spinach, right? What’s funny is that we discovered that when you don’t include the stems, it tastes a lot like spinach, too. So…
That’s not spinach in that spaghetti sauce; it’s bok choy!
And there’s our Italian meal, using bok choy!
Since we like to include whatever green vegetable growing in our garden in our meals, we threw some into our tacos too! Here’s a closer look in case you can’t see that lovely green below the chicken and black beans.
Since it is Asian cabbage, it wouldn’t be right not to use it in Asian food. So, here’s a curry dish using the bok choy (probably as it is more normally used).
Don’t let marketers and magazines tell you what you must include in your favorite recipes. Just use what you’ve got!
What fun, thrifty substitutions do you make in your meals?
When you are tired and on a budget it seams like the only food available to you and your family is unhealthy, but that just isn’t true. Even on a budget there are ways to eat a balanced and healthy diet.
Buying Fresh Produce
Fruit with a heavy skin or a thick rind is a good buy when you are trying to have fresh fruit on a budget. Items like oranges or pomegranates will last a bit longer than grapes or berries. The same applies to vegetables like zucchini and squash. The second best way to get fresher produce into your diet is to use frozen produce. It’s better to lean more on vegetables when using frozen produce. Frozen fruit has a tendency to be more expensive.
Learn To Make Your Own Bread
In fact, learn to make all the baked goods you can. Recipes are free online and many of them have become fast and easy. There are easy recipes for machine made bread as well as oven cooked bread. Buy wheat flour instead of bleached flour. This will make your bread heavier and more filling. It will also make it healthier for your family to eat. You can also use wheat flour in pancakes, cookies, and pizza crust. Also look for easy vegan recipes. They usually require fewer ingredients.
Buy cheese blocks instead of cheese slices. A block of cheese is less expensive than grated cheese and grate into more product than buying a pre-shredded cheese would yield. It will also last longer than pre-sliced cheese because it’s not immediately available without work. It’s easier to keep a variety of cheese on hand and to create your own cheese blends. Just keep your unused cheese in a sealed plastic sandwich bag to keep it from going bad.
Buy lactose free milk or almond milk or soy milk. Lactose free milk can come in skim or 2% milk. Soy and almond can come in flavors or unsweetened. Not only do these 3 milk options last significantly longer until expiration than regular milk, for those that don’t really use that much milk, buy half gallons to ensure you can finish the smaller amount.
Eliminate animals from your diet. In our home we are eliminating pigs and cows. Poultry and fish are our main meat staples. This reduces the amount of money we spend on meat as well as reduces the amount of red meat we eat. It’s healthier for our kids and us. We also like to use canned meat packed in water. Often it is precooked, so we don’t need to worry too much about cook times or various bacteria being a part of our meal. It also limits the amount of meat we eat because we stick to one can. We also buy chunky stews and soups as well as chili. All of these items are pretty inexpensive and keep our meat bill low.
It is also good to buy lentils, peas, and beans by the bag. While it’s true that they need to be soaked before cooking, it takes little time to dump them in a bowl with some water and let them saturate at room temperature. When you get home dump them and some water in a pot and mix them occasionally while they simmer. You’ll have homemade refried beans or split pea soup in no time.
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Nobody likes to waste food because when you waste food you are also wasting money. At the same time you can never be sure how much your family will eat on any given day. Some days they eat like ravenous wild animals. The next they eat like monks who are in the middle of fasting. Here are a few ways to prepare and eat leftovers, regardless of your family’s current appetite level.
Cook Ingredients Separately
Instead of cooking all your items in one pot or frying pan, and mixing them together, try keeping them separate. This makes it easier to mix and match ingredients later on that week. This works particularly well with layered meals. For example tacos and burritos share many of the same ingredients. You could have tacos one day and burritos the next. Or you could have homemade sub sandwiches and later that week have pita bread sandwiches. Unless you make meatball sandwiches, then you make spaghetti the next day.
Make an Previous Meal an Ingredient
The only difference between chowder and a pot pie is crust. One day you could make a chowder using cream of potato soup, mixed vegetables, and a can of chicken. The next day make a pie crust, dump in the leftover chowder, and let it bake until the crust is brown. There you have a new meal, making your dinner less resource intensive.
Plan Your Shopping.
Make a meal plan for the month with eating leftovers in mind. For example, if you know you are going to have Sloppy Joe’s one night, plan to make spaghetti, or a meat lasagna the next day.
Plan To Eat Leftovers
In spite of all your effort you still may find yourself eating leftovers. The hardest part of leftovers is finding the right time to eat them. For this reason it’s important to set a time aside to do just that. I have seen families set aside a particular day where the leftovers are eaten such as Friday night when nobody wants to cook, or Sunday afternoon. Another way of setting aside time to eat leftovers is by making it a set meal. For our family, lunch is our leftover meal. The left overs are usually still fresh when eaten daily.