How to Resurrect Thanksgiving Leftovers

It’s been a while since I wrote a “Thrifty Friday” post, so I thought I’d post this as something relevant I recently learned…

Feeding people good food makes me abnormally happy. (I seriously have to will myself not to don a 50s apron and wear a stupid grin and hum show tunes under my breath.) And so, I was very pleased after prepping/enjoying a “Squad Pre-Thanksgiving” with these ladies here:

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Food and fellowship was sweet. But THEN it was time to pack it all up to take leftovers to my brother-in-law’s the following day. I needed the food to still be edible . What’s a girl to do?

Here are some straight forward tips to recreate Thanksgiving dinner a day or two later WITHOUT making Thanksgiving casserole. (Does anyone actually look forward to that?)

  1. Don’t use the microwave if you can help it. It’s tempting, but it does the weirdest things to food texture and in all likelihood won’t heat it all the way through.
  2. Turkey reheats very well on the stove top in a pan. Put just a little chicken or turkey broth in the bottom, cover with a lid, and heat on low for 10-15 minutes. Gloriously moist and tender as it was coming off the bone.
  3. Mashed potatoes are the best in a double boiler, either of your making or otherwise. This magic was something new to me, but your potatoes actually taste fresh. Bonus points if you add a little more butter, because when has that made anything worse? Depending on how much mashed potato you’re reheating, it’ll take between 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stuffing is tricky. If you don’t want it to wind up soggy, I’d definitely recommend putting it in a baking dish and covering it with foil. Pop it in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes and viola, stuffing is good as new. (Full disclosure, as per popular vote I did not use the stuffing that we brought because there weren’t that many of us and we had rolls and sweet potato casserole and pie.)
  5. Sweet potato casserole/candied yams should get the same treatment as the stuffing. However, this is also one of the few dishes I wouldn’t freak out about putting into the microwave with a wet paper towel draped over the container to keep things moist.
  6. Gravy can be reheated on a small pan in the stove top or in the microwave without serious damage to the molecular structure thereof.
  7. Pie is best served cold for breakfast, with whipped cream. No need to complicate things.

If nothing else, consider freezing your leftovers in Ziploc bags until you can stand the sight of them again, but don’t waste that food! Anyone else have any tips for breathing new life into Thanksgiving fixings?

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Frugal, Minimalist, Non-consuming Christian

Ladies at the farmer’s market, circa 2013. Picture by yours truly.

I chose the buzzwords above because they all seem to describe aspects of the same mindset–one which, for one reason or another, would rather make choices about money/possessions than be ruled by them. I’ve been exploring a variety of “literature” on the topic for the past several months. I’ve read it all: Mr. Money Mustache, Money Saving Mom, Passionate Penny Pincher, The Frugalwoods, Afford Anything, Budget 101, and many lesser known blogs by individuals just living and sharing their frugal, minimalist, non-consuming lives. I’ve joined the Non-consumer Advocate group on Facebook and begun researching the Buy Nothing movement. I’ve tortured my husband (sorry, Honey) with thousands of pictures of tiny homes, fantasizing about the day we have our own uber-minimalist place. And I’ve even switched over to cleaning cloths for most formerly-paper-towel jobs.

What does this have to do with Christianity? I jumped into these resources initially thinking I could be a better steward of the resources God has provided. I wanted to live below our (limited) means because that seemed wise. God says that the root of evil is the love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10) And beside that, it seemed pretty cool what folks like the Frugalwoods and Mr. Money Mustache are doing… retiring in their 30s? Choosing cool experiences and travel above mere stuff? That’s really living! Except, as excited as I got about those ideas, those don’t really have any more Kingdom worth than money. I had a good, long talk with my husband (which is a great way to get all sorts of thoughts straight in my head) about financial priorities. And then I did some praying and some thinking besides.
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Thrifty Friday: Tenant Farming & Garden Minestrone

OK, disclaimer, I’m not ACTUALLY a tenant farmer. I do, however, happen to be a town dwelling gardener with no piece of dirt to call my own. Thankfully, my gracious in-laws have soil to spare and offered to do a joint garden with me if I’d lend my limited experience to the cause. (Note: I think I’ve mentioned some of my previous gardens here, so you’ll know that I am by NO means an expert, and I DID warn them…) The vegetables are now happily established–we are working to ensure that the weeds are less so. I’ve also got several container vegetables at home, which I will expect to produce a little later in the season.

What has this to do with thrift? It turns out, if you’re willing to provide the labor, in the long term it’s cheaper to plant from seed and preserve what grows. Start up cost doesn’t have to be much of anything if you’re wiling to compost and build up the soil. Gardening primarily takes time, secondarily takes work… but of course, God brings the increase. I also like gardening myself because I believe it’s important to cultivate self-sufficiency skill sets. I don’t intend to move off grid any time soon, but I can definitely cut our grocery budget in the coming months.
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Thrifty Friday — Cooking With Dry Beans (Copycat Vigo Black Beans & Rice)

Hello my friends, I have returned after a sabbatical. I know, you were waiting with bated breath for this very moment. I am both humbled and honored, etc etc. Hold the applause, please. And onto more useful things…

I have recently cultivated a habit of cooking with dry beans. This is partially in the name of frugality, and partially because it’s healthier–less salt, more fiber. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to soak your beans overnight, but that does mean it takes 4-6 hours worth of cook time on the stove or in the crockpot. I personally like to leave my beans in the crockpot with a few chunks of onion, a little salt, and enough water to cover them. I can forget about them completely until dinnertime. Additionally, I discovered this great resource regarding dry bean yields: Bean Yield Chart. (Skip to recipe for Copycat Vigo Black Beans and Rice.)
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Thrifty Friday–Out of Town Wedding

The bride, putting together the wedding cake that she and her mother made.

Three weeks ago, my dear sweet sister-in-law was finally wed to her man in the sunny state of Florida. Their garden wedding was simple and elegant, and all the prep (though crazy!) was actually a lot of fun. Captained by our fearless leader, my mother-in-law, the whole family banded together to tackle the decorating, catering, transportation between sites, and all the many other details. Seriously, it was impressive. We ought to try taking over the world sometime, or something equally ambitious.

I did a couple of fun, thrifty things in my own personal preparations for the wedding. The first was buy a darling sundress at a second hand shop for $20 that was sizes too large for me. It turned out to be a really simple alternation–I didn’t have to rip any seams–such that I’d encourage any sewing beginner to give it a go. While I would consider $20 on the high end of clothing costs, if you’ve got a decent Goodwill nearby you can double or triple your purchase options by learning to take in a dress. Having said that, given that a trip to the mall would have been at least $40 and gas money, I’m happy with my choice.
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Thrifty Friday — Laundry Edition

Oh goodness, the video just killed me–I love the frilly little dress she holds up at the end. Today I’m taking a sabbatical from edible recipes to talk about homemade laundry detergent—not as tasty, but definitely cheap and useful. My experience with using this type of soap has been nothing but positive. My clothes haven’t undergone any extra fading and they smell fresh out of the washer, as clean clothes should. Having said that, with my particular recipe you don’t get a special scent as with store bought detergents, but I have seen a couple of folks substitute scented castille soap for Ivory. (Skip to recipe for Dry Laundry Soap.)
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Thrifty Friday — Pasta e Fagioli

Welcome back to Thrifty Friday! Earlier this week, I had a chat with one of my girlfriends. We were foodie buddies in college, and now that we’re both married we do our best to swap relevant information as we navigate this whole young-and-newly-wed-and-trying-to-be-responsible thing. During the conversation, I expressed to her my surprise that certain meals I cooked left me feeling very satisfied, while my poor husband needed triple helpings to fill up. She replied, “I know! My husband is always telling me, ‘I need meat!'” (Skip to recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.)
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