Picking out a potential jack-o’-lantern or two from the pumpkin patch, farmers market or grocery store is a time-honored tradition.
But if you’re going to spend money on these Halloween decorations, you’ll want to make the most of your investment.
Once the fun of carving your Halloween pumpkin is over, try one of these options to repurpose it.
Whether it becomes a tasty snack or a creative project, your pumpkin can bring you a little more joy after Halloween — and help you save some cash going into the holiday season.
Eat Your Pumpkin
Let’s not beat around the bush: eating your pumpkin is probably the most enjoyable way to reuse it. We found recipes for every part of your pumpkin — even those stringy guts.
While carving pumpkins aren’t quite as flavorful as other varieties (such as sugar or pie pumpkins), they’ll still work for any of these dishes.
1. Make Pumpkin Puree
While it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, pumpkin puree is one of my favorite things to make with leftover pumpkins.
It’s incredibly versatile: You’ll be able to turn your puree into pumpkin muffins, breads and soups down the road — even that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Pumpkin puree is the basis of most of the delicious dishes on this list.
Creating the puree is simple; you can boil, bake or steam your pumpkin, according to Good Housekeeping. If you used a real candle in your jack o’ lantern, make sure to cut off and discard any burned sections or leftover wax.
The puree freezes well for future use; I like to use zip-closure freezer bags, filled and partially flattened for easy stacking.
2. Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte
Tempted by the versions on offer at seemingly every coffee shop? Instead of dropping $5 on a drink that doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin, make your own.
Inspired by a fall weekend in a town without a coffee shop, Betsy Officer created her own PSL.
“Not only is this recipe delicious and super easy, but it also is 100% natural and can be made with organic ingredients. Plus, I can now drink pumpkin spice lattes as early/or late into the season as I like!”
She shared two variations of the recipe with us: a latte made with espresso, and a café au lait made with standard drip-brewed coffee.
Ingredients: Milk (2% recommended), coffee, pumpkin pie spice mixture (or mix your own cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg blend), maple syrup, pumpkin, vanilla extract. Optional: cinnamon sticks and maple pumpkin butter as garnish
1) Measure and pour milk into saucepan on your stove (latte: one espresso shot will need 3/4 cup milk; café au lait: will need approximately ½ cup milk for a 2:1 coffee/milk ratio)
2) Add in 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon organic maple syrup and 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree. Stir well.
3) Heat the mixture on medium/hot heat, stirring occasionally.
4) Meanwhile, brew coffee or espresso. For drip coffee, Betsy recommends using a pumpkin spice blend such as Dunkin Donuts or Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice coffee.
5) Remove milk from stovetop once it is hot (Betsy waits until it’s just about to boil) and use a milk frother to froth it. The mixture should double in size and create a nice foam. If you don’t have a frother, you can find one online for under $20 (Betsy uses this one) or simply use your blender.
6) Once milk is frothed, combine in a mug with espresso or coffee. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice. Optional: add a cinnamon stick, or drizzle with a bit of maple pumpkin butter.
3. Enjoy a Pumpkin Cocktail or Pumpkin Beer
For those looking for something a little stronger than a latte, these seasonal drinks are just the ticket. You’ll need a few additional ingredients — and brewing equipment if you’re making beer — but these pumpkin drinks will spice up any post-Halloween party.
4. Have Pumpkin Lasagna
Need a dinner idea for November 1? Try this yummy vegetarian lasagna. Taste of Home calls it a “comforting fall dish” — who doesn’t love those?
5. Make Pumpkin Butter
This seasonal treat is delicious on toast, in smoothies or on oatmeal. You can make it all year if you freeze extra pumpkin puree!
Check out this simple recipe on Oh She Glows (bonus for healthy eaters: it’s vegan).
6. Snack on Roasted Seeds
They’re a classic snack for a reason: A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds is a delicious way to get iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and a healthy dose of fiber.
Roasting them is incredibly simple. Oh She Glows has a good recipe, but play with toppings to find one that works for you: salt and pepper, chili powder, or cinnamon are all good options.
7. Make Vegetable Stock with the Guts
While the flesh and seeds are often popular foods, the stringy insides of pumpkins usually go straight to the trash (or compost). No more! Try adding them to other veggie bits (carrot tops, onion ends) to make a flavorful stock.
Wondering whether this will actually save you money? Trent Hamm shared the economics of making veggie stock at The Simple Dollar.
8. Bake Pumpkin Gut Bread
If you’re looking for something a little heartier than soup, try this recipe from Diana Johnson of Eating Richly. She calculates that making two loaves costs about $2.
9. Cook Pumpkin Risotto
Another way to put those guts to use: try this delicious pumpkin risotto, which Gothamist Editor Nell Casey adapted from the New York Times.
10. Make Pumpkin Pickles
If you’re pickle-obsessed like me, you’ll want to try these babies. For a sweeter pickle to go with desserts or cheese platters, try this pickled sugar pumpkin recipe. Looking for something with a little more kick? Try these South Indian pumpkin pickles.
11. Dry Pumpkin Skin into Chips
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the skin of the pumpkin. Use a dehydrator or your oven to dry the skin into crispy chips for snacks or garnishes, recommends Gina Harney of Fitnessista.
Decorate With Pumpkins
Halloween might be over, but it’s still fall and pumpkins make great additions to your home, garden and holiday decorations.
12. Use Pumpkins as Serving Bowls
File this idea under “brilliant” — why not save on decorations (and dishwashing) by using pumpkins as serving bowls for soup or cider?
Here’s an easy way to make a pumpkin bowl, from Sanam Lamborn of My Persian Kitchen.
13. Turn a Pumpkin into a Planter
Keep the fall festivities going by using your pumpkin as a planter for a small potted plant. The planter will last for several weeks, and then you can plant it directly in your garden to decompose.
14. Create a Pumpkin Birdfeeder
15. Save Them to Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table
No need to spend extra money on table decorations — plan to keep a pumpkin or two, and you’ll be all set. Use Pinterest for ideas and inspiration.
Your pumpkins will make it to Thanksgiving, as long as you choose wisely. An uncarved, healthy pumpkin “can last 8 to 12 weeks,” Cornell University horticulturalist Steve Reiners told NPR.
16. Make Pumpkin Snowmen
Why not try this cute, crafty way to reuse some of your Halloween decorations? You’ll get an early start on your winter decorating — or if you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you could even try selling your creations.
If you don’t want to cook or decorate with your leftover pumpkin, what else can you do? Try one of these fun ideas.
17. Relax With a Pumpkin Face Mask
Out late at a Halloween party? Recharge your skin with pumpkin’s good-for-you vitamins A, C and E. You’ll only need to add honey and milk, according to this simple recipe from Beautylish.
Add this to the list of fun ways to save money on beauty products!
18. Build a Pumpkin Catapult
If you’d rather throw your pumpkin than eat it or decorate with it, try building a pumpkin catapult or trebuchet like these middle-school students from New Jersey. (Just make sure you have enough space for this physics lesson.)
19. Release Your Inner Artist With Pumpkin Painting
This is a great chance for kids to have fun creating art with pumpkins, especially if they’re a little young for carving tools.
The best part? All you need is some butcher or craft paper, a few paper plates and washable paint. Joyce at Childhood Beckons explains the details.
20. Save the Seeds
Not a fan of eating the seeds? Instead, hold onto them to plant in your garden next spring. Growing your own pumpkins will save you money — and let you enjoy even more homemade treats next year.
21. Compost Your Pumpkin
At the very least, your leftover pumpkin can help you grow an incredible garden next year. Cut it into smaller pieces and toss it in the compost pile, then mix it into your soil next spring.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite way to use your pumpkin after Halloween?
This post originally ran after Halloween 2014, but we thought we’d bring it back to help you reuse your pumpkin this year!
Heather van der Hoop is senior editor of The Penny Hoarder. When she’s not reading or writing, you can usually find her climbing rocks, mountains and trees. She tweets occasionally: @heathervdh.