Throwing a low-carb Labor Day Party on a budget is easier than you think. Summer meat sales and bountiful vegetable harvests provide many opportunities to get perfect low-carb foods at a fraction of regular prices. With a little ingenuity and imagination, Susie T. Gibbs helps us stay true to our low-carb roots while navigating through a National Meat Holiday such as Labor Day, on a budget, and with Texas flare to boot.
Labor Day Marks More Than the End of Summer
Like millions of Americans, you probably think Labor Day is a celebration observing the official end of summer. You look forward to that last camping trip, the last lake adventure, the final summer grill-out, and the last three-day weekend you’ll experience for a grueling two and a half months until Thanksgiving rolls around.
But to a Southerner, especially for Texan Southerners, Labor Day represents so much more than one last-ditch party. Labor Day is the line in the Gulf Coast beach sand DFSWs (Delicate Flowers of Southern Womanhood) the world ’round use to guide them in all things pertaining to fashion.
Simply put, rule #1 of the DFSW Primer clearly states
“No white slacks or shoes after Labor Day!”
(Oh, and Daddy, put that straw hat away, it’s time to drag out the felt Stetson until next Easter. Sorry! Them’s the rules!)
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like fashion etiquette rules the day. And looking past the fact that every mattress store in America is having a Labor Day Blowout Sale, you can clearly see that Labor Day is party central here at the ol’ homestead: low carb food out the ying-yang and cold, low carb libations with varying alcohol content.
The Red Solo Cups (RSC) , stacked high and deep, stand ready right beside the black Sharpie you’ll use to personalize your very own RSC. Devil-may-care low carbers fill their cups with ice-cold Michelob Ultra or Miller Lite, or another favorite low carb libation. There might even be a pot of low-carb punch to spike, along with endless pitchers of low carb sweet tea for those tea-totallers. But carbs add up quickly, especially with “liquid nutrition” and I’m just stubborn enough to want to chew my carbs instead of drink ‘em.
Memories Of Labor Days Past
Labor Day used to be such a carefree holiday, before I grew up and learned about things like budgets and bank balances and things that go bump in the night, keeping me Sleepless-in-Houston. Growing up, Labor Day meant a last family trip to the Frio River. Most summers were spent with Mama and us girls living out of tents on a jut of land perched high above the Frio, across from old Seven Bluff, along the old ConCan “Highway”.
Now, that old road isn’t a thoroughfare most would recognize as a “highway”. It’s an old caliche road about five miles long and so narrow you almost need to know someone in the Biblical sense to pass them. It winds around in the Frio River bottom, kicking up a trail of white dust as it meanders through two low-water crossings, pecan orchards galore, and miles of classic Hill Country scenery including an old stagecoach depot from the 1800s.
Dad and the boys would drive up on the weekends to party and play in the crystal waters of the coldest clear-water river in the Texas Hill Country. (The Frio was cold, make no mistake, with the name to prove it.) And party we did, especially on Labor Day, that last big 3-day weekend before school commenced once more!
We floated the river (that’s Texan for strappin’ a cooler full of beer and soda to a giant inner tube and tyin’ individual tubes together to make an inner tube island filled with people and cold libations). We donned bathin’ suits, sunglasses and hats, and joined hundreds of other like-minded Texans in the pursuit of doin’- nothin’- much, in a real slow way. We’d float for hours from one low water crossing to the next, swappin’ tall tales and partyin’ the entire time.
And oh my, the barbeque the boys made still makes my mouth water. They’d roast huge hunks of meat, ribs, and sausage. Cold Big Red was always involved. In fact, cold Big Red and Mama’s Potato Salad probably contributed 40 lbs of fat, packed on my ginormous Southern behonkus to this very day. You’ve heard the idea “first on, last off”? Well, in my low carb trek to health, I still haven’t gotten to the last “Labor Day 40,” as I affectionately call the relics of bygone Labor Days still hangin’ onto my hiney.
How About A Low Brow Low Carb Labor Day, Honey? And Make it a White Out!
We’re plannin’ a big Low-Carb Labor Day Party to-do this year
It’s a final blow-out before I head off to the hospital for reconstruction surgery on “the girls” in early September. Friends, it’s gonna be a “white-out party.” A white-out party is where everyone including the sock monkey boys wears white; white shoes, white pants and white shirts. Not only will everyone be wearin’ white, but the men will have a last hurrah in their straw hats as we wave farewell to summer and prepare for another month of 100°+ temps before the first cold snap cools us down a bit.
Activities such as badminton, horseshoes, washer pitchin’, darts and pool will abound, but food will be the center of attention. In between rounds of horseshoes and tossing washers, that is. Oh, and there will be a budget! I love tightwad parties. We will be doing a Low Brow, Low Carb Labor Day. In fact, one of my friends suggested raiding the cabinet to build a menu around existing pantry items put by for a rainy day. You wouldn’t believe some of the gold I uncovered hidden in the dark recesses and nooks!
I raided the old 4th of July decorations, pulled out the cheapy white tablecloth I scored on clearance at Linens n’ Things, raided the red and blue bandannas, restored the tiny flags to their Mason jar, and dug deep to find the ropes of mylar stars. We will use the bandanas as napkins and the rest will be table decorations and patio ornaments. We even have our favorite Red Solo Cup lights ready.
(For those of you not familiar with Red Solo Cup lights, that’s a trick we Texans use to gussy-up a string of white LED Christmas lights in the absence of true patio lights. We punch little holes in the ends of small Red Solo Cups with an eyelet punch and poke an LED through the hole making little LED lamp shades. Oh so festive and oh so Frio-River Rat-Chic with a capital C.)
Although the fun remains the same, some things have changed from Labor Days past. Mom and Dad are gone home now and three new generations have sprung up in their place. The food has totally morphed into low-carb comfort foods that linger on the lips but bypass the hips. Potato salad became fauxtato salad. The baked beans morphed into three-bean marinated salad. Coleslaw is still a low carb family favorite – we’ve never been much into sweet slaw. And the Junior League Texas Sheath Cake, well, (sob,hic), it’s only a fond memory of days gone by. However, we do love that Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream, and that’s one hundred percent low carb.
From a food perspective, today’s Labor Day 2.0 is even better than in years past. It’s sleeker. It’s swifter. It owns white shorts and tank tops. It’s low carb, mostly-Paleo deliciousness with heavenly proteins and good healthy fats along with bushels of the freshest vegetables and luscious salads the summer has to offer. And it’s still a ton of down-home fun.
Labor Day a Shoe String Budget!
I start shopping a few weeks in advance, craftily taking advantage of summer meat sales and BOGO (Buy One Get One) specials. Loss leaders determine where I shop each day. For those of you who live out in the woods, a loss leader is a marketing ploy used by grocery stores to get your hot body and hotter wallet inside their front door. It seems they increase the likelihood you will overspend in their store if they actually get you to their store in the first place.
The special or loss leader “deal” is an enticing offer (often meat), sold at a steep discount or “loss” to the store. It generally requires you to purchase an additional quantity of groceries to take advantage of the incredible special, or that you use a loyalty card so they can sell your shopping info to the highest bidder. Carefully selecting the additional items and using coupons to correlate with those purchases sweetens the deal.
Remember, coupons for condiments are close to being a DFSWs best friend (as long as Sissy and Ida Mae don’t know you’re using coupons, of course.) When you can redeem them for double or triple the coupon value, that’s even better! In fact, follow the SCC rule.
If it isn’t on SALE, CLEARANCE, or COUPONED, forget it! Put it back.
(That’s what I tell our sock monkey boys in the unfortunate event they go shopping with me.)
In Texas, we’re lucky enough to score great loss leader sales on brisket, pork spare ribs, sometimes even pork shoulder. Last year, we found brisket on sale at just $0.99/lb; here’s hoping we see similar sales this year. I’ve already squirrelled away a bit of meat in the bottomless chest freezer in the garage:
Loss Leader Meat Deals
- Chicken Quarters – 10 pounds for $0.55/lb
- Bone-in Chicken Breasts – 6lbs for $0.99/lb
- Fresh Pork Picnic (that’s the bottom of the butt or shoulder) – 10 pounds for $0.99/lb
- Pork Spareribs for $1.29/lb.
I have faith we will see sausage, wieners, and ground beef on sale, too, and will be ready to jump on them faster than a duck on a June bug! And don’t forget: There’s nothin’ wrong with pullin’ all the meat off the bones and stacking it high on a platter! People take smaller portions this way, as opposed to serving a gigantic breast, plus pulled pork, plus ribs, plus sausage for every single person. You’ll have less waste on the plates, too. Just let ’em take what they can actually eat.
But, But, I Don’t Know How To Barbeque!
I’m listening. I understand.
Not everyone has a barbeque pit or a smoker, or even a grill. Still, I want you to be able to enjoy a semblance of Labor Day, Texas-style. I’m going to share my tried and true low and slow un-barbeque pork shoulder recipe and the low carb quick barbeque sauce that sets my family’s lips to smacking. You can set the pork butt or fresh picnic cooking overnight, low and slow. It will be done before the guests arrive and you won’t have to worry about tending the fire while tending to the serious business of partyin’ with your family and friends.
Make up a batch of Fluffy Chix Cook quick barbeque sauce and have it ready, too! Although it’s semi-homemade, your couponing will help defray the cost and will be a time-saving blessing as you prepare for the party. It’s so simple my oldest sock monkey, Buddy could make it! He just learned to use measuring spoons.
How To Get the Neighbors to Help Out Without Noticing!
Oh hey, here’s another tip for cuttin’ Labor Day food costs: Invent a fun game. Have a food contest! Invite people to bring their favorite tried and true recipe or house specialty, or have a best-dessert contest, complete with prizes from the dollar store or a trophy you find at a thrift shop. Make it quirky. Use your imagination for the name of the contest and get creative and fun with those rules! That way it isn’t quite like announcing to the neighbors that you’re too much of a tightwad to provide all of the food for the party. That’ll be our little secret.
Enjoy your Labor Day in low brow, low carb Texas-style. Have a great time, but don’t forget: “liquid nutrition” adds up fast! Try to remember to pace yourself. Alternate carbacious alcoholic libations with iced tea or sparkling water with a squeeze of lime. Drink responsibly and don’t mess with Texas.
And please. Lift a Red Solo Cup to us folks laboring away at CarbSmart Magazine – the leader in low carb recipes and low carb information on the internet.
Low-Carb & Keto Barbeque Rub Recipe
Low-Carb & Keto Quick Barbeque Sauce Recipe
Low-Carb & Keto Barbequed Pulled Pork Recipe
(Note: This is a semi-homemade alternative to a lengthier barbeque sauce recipe. Sauce recipe can be doubled or tripled.)
Susie Snack Hunger Buster Bonis Recipe
Serves – 1
- 1 oz. Mozzarella String Cheese
- ½ oz. Crispy Walnuts
- ¼ small Granny Smith Apple, with peel
Eat slowly and savor the flavor of tart apple with crisp walnuts and creamy cheese. Guaranteed to bust the 4 o’clock Mean-Hungries until supper time!
Nutritional Info – 178 Cals,13.8g Fat, 6.4g Carbs, 1.6g Fiber, 9.1g Protein, 4.8g Net Carbs
More Low-Carb & Keto Labor Day recipe ideas.