- Food and Cooking
Holiday Meal For Eight On A Budget
Holidays are a time for family and friends to get together. Great holidays, always involve great food. Slow down the pace of our busy lives to remember where we came from and catch up with our loved ones that we don't get to see enough with our busy lives. This is a basic menu for a great meal that will not break the bank or stress you out. I always cook for the holidays because I have cooked professionally for years and I just enjoy it. I look at food in its simplicity and with a few ingredients, we can make great things. I am cooking for 8-10 people to give you an idea of proportions as they apply to your meal.
Bone In Ham
Corn on the Cob
Green Bean Casserole
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
Cheese Cake with blueberry sauce
Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you think this is ambitious, it really isn’t. I will make a few things the day before, but the rest is accomplished in around 3 hours. We always have our holidays around noon so getting up around 7 or 8 is ample time to get the house ready and cook.
We like turkey but are not huge fans of the big bird. I usually get a boneless skinless roast from butterball for around 5.00 and follow the instructions on the side. Cooking thawed it takes around 2 hours, frozen should almost double the time. If you prefer a whole bird, have fun with it, I am simplifying with a short cut that turns out moist and flavorful with very little effort on your part.
My family likes ham for our main protein so a 8 pound one will do, costing around 15.00 dollars. I always chose a bone-in shank style. Cooking is quite easy. I got for the roasting pan and top with fresh pineapple rings. Fresh pineapple is so much more flavorful than canned and really is all I use for seasonings, I do not find anymore is needed. Cooking time is almost the same as fresh turkey breast roast, I may put it in a half hour before the turkey and they will time out well together. Giving the Meat dishes 20-30 minutes to rest before carving, gives you time and oven space to reheat dishes and finish up your meal.
Five pound bag of potatoes will run you around 3 dollars or so and will make an ample portion for my guest list. A little milk, butter, salt and pepper and you have a great side dish for $3.50.
I never buy jarred or packaged gravy for the simple reason as it makes little sense. You can make a great pan gravy with your pan drippings and a little flour. Enough for eight people for around 50 cents worth of flour.
Green Bean Casserole
A staple at many holiday meals and so easy to make. Basic recipe is two cans of green beans to one can of cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried onions. I opt out of the french-fried onions and sautéed and brown my own for a flavor blast and a cut on fat. Either way you make it, it comes to less than $3.00 a dish
Corn on the Cob
Most of the time it is hard to find fresh for the holiday seasons, so if you can’t find fresh, just go frozen. Almost as good and you can pick up 6-8 ears for around $2.00.
Another holiday favorite in its simplicity, yams, brown sugar, butter and pecans. Many top with marshmallows, I opt out and tope with a mixture of brown sugar and butter and sprinkled pecans. Ingredients will cost you around $3.50 for around 3 pounds worth, yams are almost always on sale doing this time of year.
I always like to have a salad with any big meal. Nice to have a fresh side with so many hearty other sides to choose from. I merely get a pack of romaine lettuce, drizzle with Caesar dressing and shaved parmesan and top with home-made croutons made from dried out bread seasoned. Toss gently and in minutes you have a fresh side dish to add to your meal costing around $4.00.
Cheap, easy and a family favorite. You can get a dozen eggs for under $2.00 that will cover enough for your deviled eggs and the rest of your holiday baking needs, I usually make an egg for each guest. Sprinkle with paprika and viola. Hint: To make the fancy filling without a icing bag, you can always just pour the yolk mixture in a plastic baggie and push through a small hole in the corner of the bag.
A bag of fresh cranberries, a cup of water and a cup and a half of white sugar, bring it to a boil for about ten minutes and you have fresh cranberry sauce for around $2.50.
I haven’t found anyone to do it better than Stove Top and I like the ease at which it can be made. I make an oyster and cornbread dressing on occasion, but this year I will stick to the regular box brand. At about a dollar a box, another cheap filling side that is really easy to make.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Depending on how much you bake and what ingredients are in your pantry, a lot of times it is cheaper to go with a mix or even premade dough. Aunt Jemima has a great mix that makes around 60 cookies for less than $2.50. Only ingredients you need on hand is a couple eggs and some butter. Cookies are great for little ones who don’t care for pie and for hungry guest that can’t wait for the meat to finish.
The link below is a great recipe for a no bake cheesecake that your friends and family will love and you will be amazed how easy it is. Four ingredients and your done, simple mix and refrigerate. This recipe is great to make the day before and I know it will be a new family favorite. This is what everyone wants me to bring to every gathering. To make a blueberry topping, I just take a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and cook them down with a little sugar.
What is Christmas without pumpkin pie huh? Well I am not a fan, but feel I must make it. I go the can route and just make my own crust with a baking mix. Ingredients for this method will make you a pie for under $4.00 and using things you usually will already have in your pantry. Top with left over cool whip from your cheese cake and your golden.
Holidays are all about spending time with our loved ones, so why not simplify your menu and sides to get you out of the kitchen and actually spending time with your family. Holiday meals also do not have to break your bank, using a few ingredients you really can make a great meal, but be for warned, you may become the new Holiday Spot if you do it right!