Fun and Frugal Activities for Fall

boundary waters trip

Trygve, Dave, Michael, Beth and I in the boundary waters Fall 2011
Photo Credit: Trygve Wastvedt

October is upon us. The leaves are changing and the air is developing a distinct chill. Don’t let this beautiful season pass you by! Here are some great ways to enjoy the season both outdoors and indoors:

    • Camping: Looking for a cheap weekend gateway? Fall is the perfect season for camping and sitting around a campfire. If you’re not quite ready to spend a weekend in a tent why not enjoy the crisp fall air with a bonfire, some smores and hot cider?
    • Apple Picking: Grab some friends, drive to an apple orchard and enjoy this fun, fall tradition. For some extra special fun, check out the Afton Apple Orchard’s Apple Festival featuring hayrides, corn maze, live music, a petting zoo and of course apples! Looking for ways to use up all of those fresh apples? Check out these 101 crisp & juicy apples recipes from Southern Living.
    • Outdoor Attractions: Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.It is free on Thursdays all day (November-March) and every third Thursday after 4:30pm (April-October). Say a last goodbye to the animals at the Como Zoo before they hibernate. Check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and if you get chilly head inside to the Walker Art Center– free on Thursday night. Visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, a peaceful garden in Minneapolis with free regularly scheduled birding walks and nature hikes.
    • Ride A Bike: Explore the twin cities by bike, using these handy bike maps. Take in the fall colors at these places around the cities. Don’t have your own bike? No worries! Take out a Nice Ride Bike, for a small fee.
    • Relive Your Childhood: Rake some leaves and jump in the pile. Go for a walk with a friend and collect some colorful leaves to press.
    • Pumpkin Patch: Go to a pumpkin patch and find some pumpkins to decorate.
    • Study Outside: Savor the last few moments of fall by taking your reading or writing outside to study amongst the falling leaves. Need a break from all of the studying? Check out the Twin Cities Book Festival for some fun reading!
    • Farmer’s Markets: Many of these markets are soon to be coming an end for the year, don’t miss your opportunity to get some fall fresh fruits and veggies.
    • Grape Harvesting and Wine Tasting: Grab a friend and join the harvest crew at your local vineyard for a few hours. One of my favorite’s is Cannon River Winery. The harvesting is fun and free, plus you often get to try some of the wine after! Fall is also a great time to go wine tasting. Check out LivingSocial or Groupon to see if there are any good deals in your area.
    • Cheer on Fall Sports: The sports scene roars to life in the twin cities as football gets underway for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Twins wind down their season at Target Field, and the Minnesota Lynx make their playoff push at Target Center. Check out the sports teams’ websites for discount ticket opportunities.
    • Celebrate Halloween: Attend a harvest festival, throw a halloween party, go to a haunted house or check out a spooky tour at the State Capitol. For more Halloween events, deals and fun check out twincitieshalloween.com.

Join the Conversation: What is your favorite fall activity?

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Fall Frugal Recipes Featuring Fall Produce

Photo Credit: Quiltsalad Flickr

Photo Credit: Quiltsalad Flickr

One of the best ways to eat frugally and save money on your grocery bill is to feature in-season produce in your recipes. Here are some fall fruits and veggies to keep in mind as you shop and some great frugal recipes to go with them.

  • Apples: Apples are the quintessential fall fruit. They are harvested in the Northern Hemisphere during the late summer and fall. While apples are really great all by themselves, they are also wonderful additions to almost any dish. Check out two of my new favorite apple recipes: fried collards with apples and cinnamon apple pork chops. If you are looking for a fun fall activity, why not pick the apples yourself? Check out these twin cities apple orchards for more information.
  • Kale: This hearty green often gets over looked in the grocery store. But it is really tasty when prepared well. Kale is known as one of the most healthy foods in the world, chock full of vitamins A, K, C and maganese. With its hearty leaves it is great in soups and salads as well as steamed all on its own. Check out this great kale with white beans and sausage soup recipe. Check out these 22 kale recipes from cooking light.
  • Eggplant: This beautiful veggie comes into season towards the end of summer and stays in season well into fall. They are at their best August-October. Eggplant is a great meat substitute as well as a good source of fiber. Here are some great eggplant recipes from treehugger.
  • Green beans: While green beans are often available year-round, they tend to be sweetest and most tender during their natural season, from mid-summer into fall. Green beans are a good source of vitamins C, A and K. They make a great side, sauteed or steamed with a little salt and pepper. If you want to get creative, try pickling your green beans for a great snack.
  • Sweet Potatoes: These orange gems are available from late summer through winter, often sold in the grocery store as “yams”. They contain lots of vitamin A as well as vitamin C, maganese, vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. These work as a sweeter alternative to your traditional potato. Check out these 25 healthy sweet potato recipes from health.com.
  • Pumpkins: With Halloween approaching, pumpkins are beginning to pop up in stores. Pumpkins, the most popular variety of winter squash, come into season in September. While they make great decorations, they are also a great source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber. Frugal Living NW lists 26 pumpkin recipes from desserts to drinks to baked goods. But, my all time favorite frugal recipe for pumpkins is simply salted pumpkin seeds.
  • Zucchini: This popular green variety of summer squash is in season from summer into the fall. Zucchinis are high in folate, potassium and vitamin A as well as low in calories. One of my new favorite frugal recipes is zucchini banana bread. It is easy to make and oh so delicious! For some other zucchini recipes, check out these recipes from health.com.

Looking for more information and recipe ideas for in season fruits and veggies? Check out the fall recipe guide from Martha Stewart.com.

Join the Conversation: What are your favorite fall recipes?

Savor the Last Few Moments of Fall

It’s not too late to get outside, see the leaves change and savor the last few moments of this colorful season.

  • Visit a Park or Lake: Take a walk around one of the many local lakes, go for a hike in a park or bike around on the trails.
  • Camping: Fall is the perfect season for camping and sitting around a campfire. If you’re not quite ready to spend a weekend in a tent why not enjoy the crisp fall air with a bonfire, some smores and hot cider?
  • Apple Picking: Grab some friends, go out to an apple orchard and enjoy this fun, fall tradition. If you want some fun and creative apple recipe ideas check out this link.
  • Relive Your Childhood: Rake some leaves and jump in the pile. Go for a walk with a friend and collect some colorful leaves to press.
  • Pumpkin Patch: Go to a pumpkin patch and find some pumpkins to decorate
  • Take Pictures: It’s the perfect time to take some photos outside with friends or family. Who knows . . . you might even find one good enough for the Christmas card!
  • Study Outside: Savor the last few moments of fall by taking your reading or writing outside to study amongst the falling leaves.
  • Farmer’s Markets: Many of these markets are soon to be coming an end for the year, don’t miss your opportunity to get some fall fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Frisbee Golf: Explore the Twin Cities with a fun game of Frisbee Golf.