Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas dinner on a budget

For this post I would like to share the article of a fellow colleague Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist.

This is a time of year when we reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ, celebrate family and friends, and the Christmas dinner is usually a catalyst. This meal takes many traditional forms in many families.
From pot luck, where family members bring their signature dish (often hoping to have it voted the best) to group cooking where the family chefs prepare the meal at the family home or designated gathering place. Whatever your choice this year, you can still have delicious dishes, great fellowship and rave reviews without using January's food money.

Be aware of the makeup of the group, number of children, elderly and young adults; this information guides the menu. Children love pasta and there are many economical choices. Make a soup or vegetable casserole, which is not fatty and too spicy, for the elderly. The young adults are easier to please unless they have special needs such as vegetarian or don't eat pork.
Have a focal dish and spend a little extra on it, but make the sides economical. If turkey and ham are out of your reach this year, still give thanks for what you can afford. Buy a pork leg or a large roaster and splurge on its preparation and presentation. If these are still out of your budget, chicken parts with a new sauce can transform the chicken. Often, just a change in the sauce or gravy flavour can transform your meat dish.
Create some exciting side dishes which will give a zing to the main dish. Candied sweet potatoes with a few cubes of pineapple or raisins, sweet potato and Irish potato salad, two types of pasta salad, cubed pumpkin with a light ginger syrup or a pumpkin creamed casserole sprinkled with cheese. Of course, you would choose maybe three side dishes, not all. Often, so many dishes are made that food items are wasted and there is no space for adequate storage.
Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services