Thrifty Ways to Take Off (and Keep Off) Those Holiday Pounds

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 by Discount Debbie


set scale back

I saw various versions of this very funny meme on Facebook right around Thanksgiving. We joke about the holiday ten pounds almost like we do the “freshman fifteen,” right? And while many of us don’t actually put on an additional ten pounds, we can definitely feel our jeans suddenly feel a bit snug.

Some years I’ve done better than others in terms of putting that weight on to begin with. But this year, I can feel it a bit. When I went running last weekend, it was as though I could feel the sweet potato pie dragging me down. 😉 But rather than feeling bad about the additional weight, I just decided to do what I know to do while I enjoy this season.

1. Make sure exceptions are just that, exceptions. We all want to enjoy those creamy mashed potatoes, the sweet potato biscuits and, of course, the pie. I sure did! But, in reality, I had made exceptions leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s the real problem. We don’t put on ten pounds at one sitting. It’s all the exceptions before and after that meal. So, I decided that I’d quickly get back to my normal eating and work out routine so that my jeans feel back to normal by Christmas (or sooner). I expect to make exceptions again for our Christmas dinner, but that won’t be a problem as long as I’m back in my routine between now and then.

2. Keep moving, even on vacation. Maybe it’s too cold or icy to run outside. Throw in a workout DVD. Dance around with your children for 20 minutes. The weather is nice enough for us at this time of the year that I got onto the trampoline with my children the other day. That was after an impromptu soccer match in our backyard. 🙂 It’ll burn a few calories, keep your body moving, and be fun to exercise with your family.

3. Don’t think about food. It seems that the more we work on being careful with our food/calorie intake, the more likely we are to think about food and our bodies. Just have fun and allow for a few well-deserved exceptions. They are more fun that way.

How do you manage your weight around the holidays?


Frugal Cooking Substitutions

Posted on November 26th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

cooking substitutions

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!


Last Minute Thrifty Thanksgiving Tips

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

thrifty Thanksgiving

If you are anything like me, you’re hoping that you won’t have to walk into a grocery store until after Thanksgiving! But if you have put off or have not been able to do your Thanksgiving shopping until now, it’s still possible to save money on what’s probably the most expensive meal you’ll make all year.

Here are just a few tips to carry you into the final preparations for  your big holiday meal.

1. Ditch store bought gravy. Make your own gravy. It tastes better and is significantly less expensive to make. This year, I am making my gravy early. I happened to already have some homemade chicken broth on hand. So, I made the gravy last night and will simply add the turkey drippings from the roasting pan once that bird is roasted! Gravy will keep in the refrigerator for one week. So, it’s a nice thing to cross off your list a little early.

2. Don’t use paper plates. Those fancy paper plates  and plastic cups can be pricey. Use your nice plates and just plan to also use your dishwashing machine. It’ll end up cheaper to run the dishwasher than to buy all those plates and cups that you’ll just throw away. There is one exception, though. Yesterday, I met a lady who said that her mother-in-law called her and told her that she had a bunch of those nice paper plates sitting around in her pantry. She asked if she could bring them over on Thanksgiving. “Yes!” was the answer! So, if someone else offers to bring those fancy paper plates, you’ll get the best of both worlds: no dishes and no cost!

3. Use nature for your decorations. Walk outside your door and pick up some beautiful leaves to decorate around the house and the dining table. It’s beautiful and free!

What else do you do to keep your Thanksgiving thrifty?

Thanksgiving: Turkey Tips

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

turkey tips

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?


Get Ready For Black Friday

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Discount Debbie

black friday

Does anyone remember the time when Black Friday was a one day (or maybe weekend) event that actually began on the Friday after Thanksgiving? It now begins, for some people, before they have even had their slice of pumpkin pie. Black Friday has shoved its way into our holiday feast and called itself grey Thursday. What a sad way to blur our beloved Thanksgiving holiday. Can you tell how I feel about the whole thing?

I don’t go out Thursday night and I hardly ever go out on Fridays anymore (except to go get my clearance turkey). 😉 However, I do understand that it’s possible to get some amazing deals. And, I love a good deal. So if you’re a grey Thursday/Black Friday shopper, more power to you. Here are a few tips to make sure your time and money are well spent.

1. Do Your Homework. Scour the ads and websites of the stores you think you may visit for the specific items you’re looking for. There will be plenty of items marked “sale,” “price cut,” or something more dramatic to get your attention. Just check the prices and you decide on the best deal.

2. Prioritize. It’s going to be crazy out there. I know. Just call me “Captain Obvious.” I say that to say that if you have a list, start with the item you want most just in case you can’t get to everything.

3. Divide and Conquer. Go with friends or family and divide up your list to get a better chance of snatching all the good deals you’re after. Plus, if you make sure you each grab a hot cup of something, then it might feel a little more festive while you’re out there in the frigid temperatures!

What do you do to plan for your big Black Friday adventure?

The Calm Before Thanksgiving

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Discount Debbie


This coming week is a time when women all over the United States will be stressing out and scrubbing every square inch in their home. They will be planning their Thanksgiving menu, buying everything, and then coming home and stressing over what they forgot. This is why it’s important to take a day to just be calm before the storm that Thanksgiving can be. What do you do on this day of calm? You make sure you don’t overspend by thinking your way out of your panic state.

Perspective Check

You seemed to have forgotten the rolls on your last shopping trip. You plan to have rolls, biscuits, and various types of sweet bread. Take a deep breath and admit to yourself that it will be okay that you forgot the rolls. While someone may notice, there are plenty of yummy bread staples around to make your roll absence not a huge loss. You and your family will still have a great Thanksgiving without the rolls.

You Need Help

Ask your family for help. You do not have six arms and you do need sleep. Trying to do it all by yourself is only going to cause you frustration and waste ingredients when things don’t come together as planned. The best way for everything to come together is for everyone to take on some small part of your Thanksgiving planning. Trying to do it all by yourself will just cause stress and holiday drama.

Let People Bring Something

People offer to bring stuff to your festivities, but you keep saying no. You’re the hostess and you will do it all by yourself. Well, stop it. Let people bring something with them. It helps some people feel needed or feel good that a certain recipe is requested. It helps you keep costs down as well as work load.

 Now take a deep breath… and exhale. You will survive Thanksgiving!

Sprouts Organic Deals–Thanksgiving Week

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Coupon Cathy


It’s the sale leading to Thanksgiving at Sprouts. I encourage you to get whatever can be purchased early today and tomorrow because it’s already beginning to get too crowded for my taste out there! I also encourage you to see what’s on sale and maybe even experiment with a new menu item for your Thanksgiving feast 🙂

â—¾Organic Acorn, Butternut or Spaghetti Squash $.98/lb
â—¾Organic Gala, Fuji or Granny Smith Apples $1.48/lb
â—¾Organic Yellow Onions or Red Yams $.98/lb
â—¾Organic Table Carrots $2.98/each (5lb bag)
â—¾Organic Green Grapes $2.98/lb
â—¾Organic Green Beans $2.98/each (1 lb bag)

Earthbound Farm Organic Salads $1.98
Use one $.75/1 Earthbound Farm Salad Coupon
Final Price: $1.23

â—¾Spice Hunter Organic Spices & Extracts 50% Off
â—¾Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Shells $3.99
â—¾Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes $2.49

Arrowhead Mills Organic Coconut Flour 25% Off
Use one $.25 cash back flour via Snap App by Groupon

Sprouts Organic Free-Range Turkey $3.99/lb
Use one $1 cash back on Turkey via Snap App by Groupon

Imagine Organic Broth $1.50
Use one $1/1 Imagine Coupon
Final Price: $.50

Immaculate Baking Products 25% Off
Use one $.75/1 Immaculate Baking Coupon
Final Price: varies

Green & Blacks Organic Chocolate Bars $3.00
Use one $.50/1 Green & Blacks Coupon (Facebook)
Final Price: $2.50

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Flour $4.99
Use one $1/1 Bob’s Red Mill Coupon
Final Price: $3.99

Read More

Don’t Stress Over Thanksgiving Prep

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

Thanksgiving Prep

Thanksgiving is one week away! One week! How did that happen? If you’re like me, you can’t wait for fall to arrive. It seems to be an eternity, waiting for the season to change. Then, you are thrilled when the weather finally begins to get cool and it “feels like” the holidays. Then, about a week before Thanksgiving, you can’t believe how fast the time has gone! This happens to me every year. Along with that “I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving” comes the slight panic over all that has to get done before that day. Here are a few tips to help you (and me) enjoy more and stress a little less on the big day.

Plan Ahead

There’s not too much time to plan ahead right now. However, just making sure that you know exactly what needs to be done one week in advance makes a difference. Make sure you know (and even write down) what you need to buy for all the foods you’ll be preparing, all the supplies you may need, all the projects (aside from the usual cleaning) that you want to have done before the guests arrive next Thursday.

Do Whatever Can Be Done Early

Most pies and desserts can be made the day before. Some cleaning and organizing can be done several days before (unless you have little ones who will get into whatever you’ve just organized).

Get Help

Older children can help set the table, clean, and entertain little ones. Friends might enjoy coming over a little early to chat while helping with final preparations.


Remember that your plans and expectations are not shared by your guests. So rather than letting your expectations taunt you on Thanksgiving, enjoy time with family and friends even if you didn’t get to make everything you’d hoped or decorate exactly as you had envisioned.

What else do you do to ensure that Thanksgiving is more fun than stressful?


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