Here are 7 tips ranging from meal planning & shopping to cooking and serving that will help you be the most prepared, relaxed & chic holiday hostess around…….. CHEERS
The season of holiday cooking involves a range of menus, expectations and budgets. Here are some tips to help make the holiday season bright and budget-friendly when you’re entertaining friends and family:
Cooking for a crowd — even if you don’t have one to feed at your table just yet — is the best way to avoid any holiday season surprises. Gather the essentials early for bubbly casseroles and warming stews that are not only seasonal, but time-saving: make double the dinner a week or two before the holiday rush begins, and tuck the second portion in the freezer.
If the amount of guests stacking up for your next holiday feast feels overwhelming, consider shifting the menu to a potluck. Allowing guests to contribute their family’s favorite dish not only helps save the host time and money instead of buying all the recipe supplies, but it also gives everyone the opportunity to share their own traditions.
MAYBE A FESTIVE PUNCH………
One of the biggest costs of cooking for a crowd is not found on the plate, but in the glass. A punch stretches a bottle of wine to its fullest, and added ingredients like cranberry juice plus berries and lemon slices or mulling spices gives each sip a more festive and unique touch. Also, try a punch recipe with ice cream for a decadent non-alcoholic version for kids or adults that don’t imbibe.
More Sides, Less Meat
Shifting the focus from meat to sides allows seasonal vegetables to shine, while also costing you less than the large roasts and poultry meant to serve a crowd. Pick a smaller bird or roast, and bulk up the selection of side dishes. Variety is the key to a successful collection of sides: plan on three to four dishes for a crowd of eight to 10 guests. Pick a combination of make-ahead and fresh sides to bring excitement to the plate through texture and your guests won’t miss the extra serving of meat.
Brunch is Best
Brunch foods, which often have eggs or bread at the center of the plate, are cheaper meals to cook and incorporate holiday recipe necessities you’ve already stocked up on like butter, flour and sugar. When planning a brunch menu, pick make-ahead dishes as the centerpiece for the meal, like quiche or cinnamon rolls. Since many holiday gatherings take place at night, planning a holiday brunch with friends makes for thankful and eager guests.
If your traditional meal each year revolves around a dazzling, expensive roast, don’t skip it. Shop and cook consciously before the holiday season begins by making a food budget for the meal. Cooking from pantry staples like pasta or rice dishes, eggs or soups in the weeks leading up to your big meal, will help you save the money you need to keep your holiday just like you remember it.
Simple Menus, Happy Cook
When planning a holiday meal, it is easy to let the excitement of the season carry the menu away. By narrowing the menu into a collection of your very favorite recipes, it makes for a less stressed and more confident cook. For example, pick either a sweet potato or white potato dish, but not both. Having less on the table makes the dishes memorable and likely tastier because of the cook’s clearer focus.