We have five kids in our family. Five. That’s five backpacks, five wardrobes, five lunch bags, five pairs of shoes, five of everything. For right now, it’s really three to four of everything because our youngest is ten months old. It’s still a lot of money when it comes to back to school shopping, birthdays, and holidays.
Last year we went to our local Halloween store-you know, the ones that pop up during the season and disappear into an abyss when the season is over-and we purchased a costume for our toddler and a mask for our then 11 year old son. This purchase was $40 for a simple toddler costume and $30 for a mask. $70+ tax for one and a half costumes. Ridiculous right?
I suppose, if you only had one or two children, maybe $70 for one and a half costumes might not have such an impact, but with five, it surely does. In fact, even if we only had two children, $70 for one and a half costumes which look cheaply made and were fraying by the time we got home is still ridiculous.
This led me to thinking, how can we make Halloween happen on a budget?
Start. Planning. Early.
I mean really early.
Like a good two months early if you can.
Costumes. It all begins with the costumes. Costco is great for candy in bulk. But where can you find decent costumes at an affordable price? Side note- Costco actually does have some costumes priced very reasonably but their selection is very limited and you need a membership to shop there. Two of our boys settled for Halo characters last year simply because that was the only costume in their size. After doing lots of research, I’ve found some costumes, mostly for girls (sorry moms!! I tried to find boy costumes too!!).
Mountain Oaks Boutique has you covered on the costumes, Costco has you covered on the candy, so now what about meals?
Chili and cornbread are an easy go-to.
Just prep the ingredients and pop them into the slow cooker and go along with your day. Go trick or treating to your hearts content and when you return home, you’ll have dinner waiting for you and the kiddos. I find that any time there are holidays where I’m required to leave the house, it’s always nice not to have to cook when we get home. And while eating out is always an option, which I’m sure many families take advantage of, it isn’t an option when you’re on a budget… or when you live in the mountains and there literally aren’t any places to eat within a 30-minute radius. This chili recipe beats most restaurant foods anyway. I should note that I do splurge on some pre-made cornbread and you really could make your own if you’d like to cut corners a little more.
Slow Cooker Halloween Chili
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours and 10 minutes
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 LB Ground Beef ** 2 pounds are needed, you can use 1 lb of each or 2 of your choosing**
1 LB Ground Turkey ** 2 pounds are needed, you can use 1 lb of each or 2 of your choosing**
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Chopped Yellow or White Onion
2 (14.5 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilis
3 (8 oz) cans Tomato Sauce
½ Cup Beef Broth (or water, but Beef or even Chicken Broth will have the most flavor)
2 TBSP Chili Powder
1 ½ TSP Ground Cumin
2 TSP Paprika
2 TSP Cocoa Powder
1 TSP Sugar
½ TSP Ground Coriander
1 (15 oz) can Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 (15 oz) can Light Red Kidney Beans
Salt and Pepper to your liking
Top with: *Optional*
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips. You can make your corn bread or you can buy some. We like to buy ours to save time.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the chopped onion and saute for about 3 minutes, then add the minced (we use minced) or finely chopped garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour onions into a 6 quart (or larger) slow cooker.
- Return skillet to medium-high heat and add your meats (ground beef and turkey) and cook stirring occasionally until beef has browned. I like to season my meat with some salt and pepper during this stage. Drain most of the fat from the beef, leaving about 2 Tbsp in with beef (this is optional, I think it adds flavor). Pour the browned beef and turkey into your slow cooker.
- Add the canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup broth (or water), chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander and season this mixture with salt and pepper to your liking. Stir the mixture, cover it with your slow cooker lid and set your slow cooker on the low heat setting for 5 - 6 hours.
- After 5-6 hours, stir in the dark and light red kidney beans and allow them to heat through; this takes about 10 minutes (if you like your chili a little on the liquidy side, now is the time to add another ½ cup of broth or water-we like to add broth). Serve your chili warm with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. We like to also serve our Chili with corn bread or even tortilla chips.
How do you do Halloween on a Budget?
Do you have any tips and tricks you can share? Family traditions that make life easier?