October is upon us, and that means pumpkins are going to start popping up everywhere! You can find these giant orange orbs at roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and even at your local grocery store. You may have even one or two growing in your garden. Altogether, it’s estimated that Americans will spend over half a billion dollars on pumpkins this Halloween! Most will end up as jack o’ lanterns on front stoops across the country, which is a shame. Pumpkins are an extremely versatile vegetable, and putting pumpkins to use can often save you a little bit of money. Here are five frugal ways to make pumpkins part of your October.
1. Eat Them
One of the best ways to put pumpkins to use is to simply eat them. Pumpkins are a key ingredient in a variety of must-have fall recipes. Fortunately, there are literally tons of pumpkins available right now, so you can make as many of these tasty dishes as you’d like without breaking your budget, thanks to their abundance. You can use pumpkin to prepare a delicious soup, for example, or make savory pasta with it. If you want to have a special fall treat, you could also try turning your pumpkin into a shepherd’s pie of sorts, by stuffing the “shell” of a pumpkin with this wonderful stew recipe.
2. Save the Seeds (And Eat Them Too!)
When you clean out the pulp from that jack o’ lantern, make sure you don’t throw those seeds away, as they’re a delicious treat on their own. You’ll also save yourself some money since buying packaged pumpkin seeds can be expensive. Separate the seeds from the pulp, rinse them off, and then set them aside. Stir melted butter and salt together in a large bowl, and then place the seeds in the bowl and mix them around. Remove the seeds and set them on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and then place the pan in it for 45 minutes or until the seeds are golden brown. Let them cool down, and then store them in locking freezer bags. Now you have a great treat you can enjoy on those fall walks, or when you’re binge watching your favorite television shows!
3. Pumpkin Kegs
Another great way to put a pumpkin to good use is to have it rev up your fall party as a festive holiday keg, and use it to dispense your favorite fall drinks! All you’ll need to do this is a pumpkin, some carving tools, a beer tap, and the tasty beverage of your choice. Simply carve out a large pumpkin and thoroughly clean the inside. Carve a hole at the lower end of the pumpkin that approximates your beer tap, and then tap it. Then, it’s just a matter of adding the beverage of your choice to get the party started. Pumpkin ales are a great match for a pumpkin keg, naturally. Stouts are also a good choice, and spiced ciders pair nicely.
4. Instant Flowerpot
If you want to give your garden a wonderful fall theme, try turning some pumpkins into planters! Pumpkins make great planters for annuals that are at their peak this time of year. Pumpkin planters are hardy too; they’ll endure into the cold winter months, even after your flowers have long since died. If you shop after Halloween, you can pick up these “planters” at a deep discount, too. To make a pumpkin planter, carve the top off a pumpkin and remove the pulp. Fill the hollowed-out pumpkin with good potting soil, and then add some of the most colorful fall flowers. Mums, pansies, and flowering kale arranged around a central stand of purple fountain grass can be truly gorgeous in one of these planters. You can reinforce the fall garden theme by using multiple pumpkins as planters.
5. Don’t Throw Them Away
Even if you just ended up using your pumpkin as a jack o’ lantern, don’t let it go to waste after Halloween. In fact, you should never throw any part of a pumpkin away if you don’t have to. Turning pumpkins into something good for your garden or the local wildlife is an effortless, cost-effective way to live a more sustainable life. So, when you’re done with your pumpkin, chop it up and add it to your compost bin. It’ll break down relatively quickly if it’s been cut into small pieces, especially if it’s mixed with other composting materials. If you don’t have a compost pile, don’t worry; just feed your pumpkin to the wildlife instead. Birds will enjoy the pumpkin seeds if you don’t eat them yourself, and deer, rabbits, and other animals will make good use of the rest of the pumpkin.
Pumpkins are everywhere, so take advantage of your good fortune! Try these five tips to get the most out of some pumpkins. You’ll have a ton of fun and save a little bit of money while you’re doing it. What’s your favorite way to use pumpkins each fall?