With Halloween imminent, the shops are full of plastic tat and disposable costumes. Rather than spend money on stuff that will end up in landfill after a few days of use, opt for eco-friendly decor – and take a zero-waste approach for food on a budget too.
Forget plastic pumpkins. Carve your own to keep dark spirits away and welcome kind souls (or trick-or-treaters).
Use the pumpkin flesh to make soup and pumpkin pie. I use onion, curry powder, chilli and mango chutney in pumpkin soup and a generous amount of nutmeg, cinnamon and maple syrup or honey in pumpkin pie, to make the flavours as different as possible. You can also use pumpkin to bulk up veggie chilli for an alternative Halloween meal; or use it as a tasty risotto ingredient or ravioli filling.
Toast the pumpkin seeds for a snack – toss in sugar and butter, or chilli and salt.
Alternatively, wash and dry the seeds to save for planting – and more pumpkin carving – next year.
Apples can still be gathered for free, and used to make dolls for Halloween decorations. Peel the apple, carve a face shape, soak in salt and lemon juice, and dry on a low heat in the oven.
Add a body made from stuffed tights; or thread heads together to create spooky shrunken head bunting.
Apples can also be used for party games, from apple bobbing to divination – just peel the apple in one go and throw the peel over your shoulder to reveal the initial of your future partner. If you’re apple bobbing, quartering the apples will make it much easier.
Toffee apples are another great cheap Halloween treat. Just melt butter and sugar together, dip your apples in the toffee after skewering on sticks, and leave to harden on greaseproof paper.
Toffee apple cake is a softer alternative if toffee apples are a bit demanding for your teeth: pour your butter and sugar mix over raw apples then top with sponge mix (equal weights of butter, sugar, eggs and flour) and bake.
Make Your Own Costume
Rather than risking turning up at a party in the same costume as someone else – and wearing something that’s unlikely to last for more than one party – make your own costume.
If your sewing skills are limited, a suit or little black dress teamed with eyeliner and a hint of blood is an easy vampire costume. If you have little more sewing skill, a cloak is a versatile basic that can help you become everything from a hobbit to a warlock.
Bandages can be used to make a cheap and cheerful costume; or use make up to turn into a zombie (apply a peel off face mask and let it dry under your make up then peel strips of the face pack down for realistic but cheap skin peeling).
Spend a little time thinking creatively rather than spending money on things you’re unlikely to use again to have a more sustainable – but no less spooky – Halloween.