I love this time of year, when the temperature outside is comfortable enough to throw open the windows and let the breeze in. After a summer of excruciating heat, I feel the need to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. Most often my choices are free this time of year. Attend a festival for Bluffton or one of the neighboring cities, take a day to play on the beach when it's not too hot, or get the kids out for a walk in your neighborhood or local park. All are affordable ways to enjoy the outdoors and spend some quality time together as a family.
If you are not allergy ridden, turn off your HVAC and use the windows this month, a little fresh air will do the body good and will help cut down on your energy cost to boot. This time of year is also good for a certain kind of cooking which I absolutely adore; Soups, Stews, Chili, and pasta dishes. This time of year many vegetables go on sale such as potatoes and broccoli, as do apples, pumpkins, and pears. Use these as a start to any yummy dish and you will have a money saving treat. Rachel Ray makes a great side dish with mashed sweet potatoes, honey, chicken stock, lemon juice, and nutmeg that is amazing and cheap. Soups, stews, and chili can all be made in big batches when the ingredients are on sale, and leftovers can be frozen for a week that you don't have time to cook or when money is a little tight. A little creativity can be fun in the kitchen, and lead to mouth watering dishes that don't break the bank.
As I start to crave comfort foods this time of year, I make use of pasta sales by baking my pasta. Publix had both pasta and sauce on sale this week. Simply cook the pasta according to the directions, add your favorite sauce and pour into a casserole dish. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven. It's such an easy and affordable way to feed a crowd, and generally most people love baked pasta. When the items are purchased on sale, an 8x10 pan of baked pasta can be made for less than $10.00. In my family this would normally serve at least 4 separate dinners as I divide it out into 2 - 8x8 pans, and freeze one of them for another time.