Howdy folks! 😊
It’s that final week before Christmas when you’re winding up your shopping, and planning what to cook/eat on that big day. Excitement is high – plus this is also the week in the year when we feel the most like Martha Stewart, or like we should also be on Food Network! 😂 It can sometimes be nerve wrecking, especially when you don’t have the budget to match your aspirations. 🤦🏽♀️
To keep me organized and make sure all bases are covered, I typically start my planning by determining what time the ‘Main meal’ will be, that is whether it will be lunch or supper (rarely do breakfasts) – and then proceed to listing down the food categories that I want covered in that Christmas meal. So, those would be Protein, Carbs, Veg and Dessert. After these are covered, and if there’s budget left over, then I add a starter, and any extras – just because. But your Menu needs to have a foundation that it is built around, that is delicious and complete, even if you don’t manage to cook or add anything else. That menu should still be a hit on its own! 🔥
An example for me would be:
- Protein : Whole Roasted Chicken (or Turkey if available), with side gravy/sauce
- Carbs: Creamy Mashed Potatoes or Savory Soy Rice
- Veg: Green beans & Carrot medley or lettuce salad
- Dessert: Plain Vanilla cake/muffins with custard or Red velvet cupcakes
*Sometimes it’s better to cook a few things extremely well, than trying to create a buffet with bits of everything, but not execute well.
Now, if I’m hosting people and have more room in my budget, then I would plan for a bit more variety and give the guests options. Since not everyone likes roast chicken or carrots and green beans or mashed potatoes. So my menu options may look like this, for example – and I’d often pick the top 2 or 3 in each category, depending on the number of people coming, what is locally available – and the budget.
- Protein : Whole Roasted Chicken (or Turkey) with gravy/sauce, Beef or Pork Roast, Baked Tilapia in white sauce, Oxtail Stew, Stuffed Pork Roll, Pork Belly, Garlic Grilled Chicken
- Carbs: Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Savory Soy Rice, Macaroni (and cheese), smashed baby potatoes, Yellow Butter Rice, Roasted butternut, Nshima also known as Pap or Sadza in this part of the continent.
- Veg: Green beans & Carrot medley, Green salad, Cauliflower & Broccoli medley, Sweet Rainbow Carrots, Creamed spinach, Beetroot & Green Bean Salad, Corn salad, Mushroom and Avo Salad Bean Salad
- Dessert: Plain Vanilla cake/muffins with custard, Chocolate Bundt Cake, Strawberry cheesecake, fruit salad, Pumpkin Pie, Red velvet cupcakes.
*Again, I know you want to impress – but cook what will be consumed. Beware of wastage. Stick to your budget and remember there is a whole lot of life after Christmas day. 😂
Also note, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it local. I have to say I have yet to have a fully, 100% indigenous Zambian meal over Christmas. There’s always something ‘different’ because of the customs (mostly western) and traditions we have adopted over the years. But I have taken some deliberate steps to include a few local components in my menus, especially more recently. For example, Nshima would be among the starches I’d prepare. I often find there is someone who will appreciate this inclusion. I’d also make sure there’s something on the menu with gravy… to help the nshima along. Like Oxtail Stew for example, and perhaps a veg like fried Impwa (Garden Eggs). 😊
I’ve added a few extra notes below that you may find helpful, depending on the type of event you will be having.
If you’re having a brunch: You’d want to include a few lighter things in your menu that will incorporate the ‘breakfast’ component into your meal. For example, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, mini-sausage rolls, mini-samosas, yogurt cereal cups (use granola/muesli and not corn flakes), muffins, bacon, warm bread rolls, sliced fruit, roasted veggies plus a selection of beverages – Your Teas, Coffees, Cocoa, fruit juices, smoothies such as Kiwi Green Smoothie etc.
If you’re having a BBQ/Braai : Your salads can include BBQ staples like Coleslaw and Potato Salad. You can have spicy potato wedges or even chips/French fries. Your protein can include T-Bones steaks, Hungarian and/or beef sausages, Boerwors, charcoal Grilled Chicken pieces, Pork chops etc.
If you want your meal to have a starter : You can include Deviled Eggs – Version 1, Blanched Vegetables with cheese dip, Garlic bread pieces, samosas, Hungarian sausage bites, Fruit and cheese cubes, Crostini.
I’m curious to know what you typically eat/cook for Christmas and how you go about your planning process. Do drop me a line so we can exchange notes. Would love to hear from you!