Two fantastic menus for a budget-friendly Christmas feast
Whether you're planning a formal affair or a laid-back braai, here are easy recipes to create a memorable meal without spending a fortune
CLASSIC CHRISTMAS FEAST
We're taken our inspiration from France and Italy for this classic sit down Christmas meal that offers a little panache on a budget.
ON THE MENU
Starter: Festive Caprese salad "wreath".
Dessert: Sweet berry pancake stack.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY IDEAS TO STEAL FROM THIS MENU
Make a little of an expensive ingredient go a long way
While a classic Caprese salad is heavy on fresh mozzarella — which can be pricey — this thrifty "wreath" version makes a little cheese go a long way by adding affordable greens to the mix along with the traditional basil and tomatoes.
The same can be said of the dessert —it's got all the tantalising flavours of a berry cheesecake, but uses half as much cream cheese.
Elevate everyday fare
The centrepiece of a festive feast tends to be a giant turkey or a pricey cut of roasted meat, but everyday proteins can be worthy of being the star of your celebration.
We've "dressed up" an affordable roast chicken by stuffing it French-style (just under the skin of the breast) with a mix of spinach and feta. This keeps the bird deliciously succulent and tender.
The humble sausage, meanwhile has been give the gourmet treatment by being roasted with sparkling wine and grapes. Buy the best quality sausages you can afford — be they lamb, beef or pork — or use plant-based ones to turn this into a vegetarian main.
Hero seasonal produce
Fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper when they're in season, so make the most of them, as we've done by including grapes in the main course and berries in the dessert.
Let food double as table decor
Featuring all the colours of Christmas, our festive Caprese salad "wreath" looks almost too good to eat. This first course is so pretty it could double as the centrepiece of your festive table, which will save you shelling out for fresh flowers.
FESTIVE MEXICAN FEAST
Mexican food is all about bold flavours, vibrant colours and communal platters that offer great value for money. With a main course cooked over the coals, this menu takes the feast outside making it perfect for a celebration in sunny SA.
ON THE MENU
Dessert: Mexican tres leche cake.
BUDGET-FRIENDLY IDEAS TO STEAL FROM THIS FEAST
Impress with less
A prawn platter may seem like an expensive option, but allowing one king prawn per person creates a sense of luxury. You could also replace them with smaller peeled prawns, which are a cheaper choice. The dish will be just as good as the Bloody Mary sauce is the star of this starter.
In the same way, the mixed fajita platter is a pocket-friendly way to treat your guests to pricey rump steak. The beef is served as a trio of proteins along with more affordable pork steaks and chicken thighs, so you will need less than if you were serving it solo.
Stretch out pricey proteins
Proteins tend to be the most expensive part of a meal, so make them go further by padding the dish with other ingredients.
Our mixed fajita platter is a great example. Thinly slicing the pork, rump and chicken means a little goes a long way, especially when it is tumbled into a tortilla together with roasted peppers, bean salsa and guacamole.
Pick dishes for double duty
Save the cost of having to prepare a separate dish for vegetarians by being smart with your selection of sides. Beyond being a great complement to the meaty fajitas, our baby marrow and corn salad with granadilla vinaigrette makes a delicious filling for tortillas.
• Additional reporting by Toni Jaye Singer.