Besides, even with fewer guests, I still wanted to present a good variety of desserts to those at our table.
As a result, my husband and I were faced with the dilemma of what to do with quite a lot of extra fruit crisps, cakes, and pies. It’s pretty much just the two of us most of the time now, with only occasional stays and visits from our sons, so there is nobody else to eat them.
Throwing them out would make this frugal soul cringe. But I sure didn't want to eat them all myself either. I used to be able to shed any holiday weight gain easily, but that's no longer the case at all, so I try mightily to prevent adding any extra pounds at this or any time of the year.
It doesn't come easily to me to resist the delectable offerings all around me during the holidays, though.
Her self-control was legendary when it came to food - and most other things, for that matter. This ability to moderate her caloric intake undoubtedly played a key role in her maintaining a very healthy weight her entire life and being able to enjoy an active lifestyle up until her death in her early 90’s.
In contrast, I have no such ability. In fact, it's kind of pathetic how little self discipline I have in this regard. I can - and do - easily eat in one sitting the entire candy bar or bag of chocolate-covered almonds that I've received as gifts. Or the box of chocolates. Or a couple of pieces of pie or cake.
Honestly, if I know it’s in the house, I almost feel compelled to consume it as soon as possible. This is the major reason I just don’t buy sweets or candy to begin with. Given my sorry lack of self control, I’d be many, many pounds heavier if they were around for ready consumption.
Mom felt that baking was a good way to learn to follow a recipe with some precision before moving on to other areas of food preparation. If something went wrong, and the result was inedible due to our lack of skill, it was no great loss.
As a large family, we typically polished off whatever was made and served for dessert at those Sunday meals. But other than that, we rarely had sweets in the house.
Since they served no nutritional purpose, they were not included regularly on Mom’s grocery list. That definitely helped me to establish long-term healthy eating habits, but I have never learned to pace myself in the presence of an abundance of junk food.
So what to do when confronted by the horror of thousands of unneeded calories in the form of extra desserts left over from a huge holiday meal? Of course some people would just throw them out, but as I've already mentioned, that offends my frugal sensibilities.
Desserts may not serve the nutritional purpose of, say, a casserole serving, but they still represent an expenditure for food that should not be wasted. And snacks represent a fairly significant portion of most families' budgets, so there’s every reason to try to get the most use out of these desserts as possible.
With that in mind, I chose to handle them the same way I would any other leftover food and save them for a later date. Someone in the family will undoubtedly enjoy them at some point in the future.
So, as in every other case where I have food left over that I cannot (or should not) eat right away before it spoils, I opted to freeze the desserts.
I could have just as easily used sandwich-sized ziplock bags instead, and they would served quite well, too.
This way, I imposed restraints on my own caloric intake over the holiday season, and yet, anyone who has a craving for a sweet can easily throw a container in their lunch or thaw it for an afternoon or after-dinner snack.
By the time I was done, I had more than 15 portions set aside. That's a good number of afternoon snacks or Sunday dinner desserts.
It would be very simple to duplicate this procedure after any holiday meal or party, and for such things as cookies or brownies, too. Essentially, it would work any time you bake or buy baked goods and have more leftovers than you want to eat.
And, by the way, this practice of divvying up food into serving size portions and storing it in the fridge or freezer immediately after a meal is also actually a good practice to use for regular leftovers, too. It's particularly practical if you're one of those who has a tendency to pick at them if they're left out and to eat more of them than you should.
By putting them into individual or meal sized portions and freezing them, you remove them from temptation's reach so they are available for when you need them.
My Mom would have approved of this food-saving strategy.
I may not have inherited her discipline, but I can still use her thrifty approach to eliminate waste and stretch my dollars wherever I can.