Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas Dinner on a Budget!

It's that time of the year again.....soon Christmas will be upon us and we have to dig deep into our pockets (more so with our depreciating currency!) for that once-in-a-year festive meal.  With restaurant meals costing more this year and roast turkey going for RM300 - RM500, who says you can't have a good yet affordable Christmas dinner at home that'll be just as satisfying.

For one thing, it'll certainly be a more private and relaxed meal among family and friends.  So, for those of you considering a slightly more budget-conscious meal at home, you may already have plans for your menu but, in case you don't, perhaps what I've cooked in the past can inspire you with some ideas.

The dishes I've highlighted here any noob cook can put together as I'm all about simple recipes and fast cooking to ensure you won't be slaving over a hot stove too much but still allow you time to be with your guests.

Menu 1's starter of Chargrilled Calamari Salad is one that's pretty fast to prepare.  You don't even need to do any work with the ready packets of pre-washed salad leaves.  All you need to do is to prep the calamari (or squid) beforehand and store it in the fridge.  When it's time to assemble the salad, the squid takes only a few minutes to cook.

As for the main course of Roast Chicken, the chicken legs can be marinated the night before with any seasoning (the simplest would be salt, black pepper and olive oil or butter) and herbs (thyme or rosemary) of your choice.

Serve that with a side of (plain) Roasted Potatoes (or with some herbs).....

......and Roasted Capsicums.  Both these can be thrown in around the chicken legs in one tray and baked in the oven at the same time.

For dessert, maybe you can go with a Fresh Coconut Jelly which you can make in advance they day before and have it chilling in your fridge.

Menus 2's appetiser of Potato & Egg Salad with Bacon has 3 components that can be prepared ahead of time like boiling the potatoes, getting the hard-boiled eggs ready and frying up the bacon bits.  Then, all you have to do is mix and toss the 3 components together when your guests arrive.

Your main of Crispy Skin Salmon just needs the salmon fillets (or salmon steaks) to be seasoned with salt and black pepper and fried in olive oil till its perfectly cooked (with a pink centre) and the skin crispy.

Serve that with a side of Thyme & Garlic Roasted MushroomsStir-Fried Bok Choy.  The greens need only seconds to saute to maintain that crunchy bite.  The mushrooms can go into the oven when you're pan-frying the salmon fillets.

End with a dessert of (store-bought) ice cream of your choice (like Fatbaby, Inside Scoop or Haagen Dazs) that just requires scooping out from a tub.

Menu 3 starts with Borsch Soup which you can again make in advance.  The longer the soup steeps, the more the flavours will marry together.

The One Pan Dinner is as simple as it gets with a main of Chicken Fillets simply seasoned with salt and black pepper and pan-fried in olive oil in one pan.  After that deglaze the pan with stock (or water) and that will act as the sauce.

You can saute the Mushrooms, Vine Cherry Tomatoes & French Beans in another pan.  The vine cherry tomatoes just need a minute or two to blister in a hot pan and taken out before the mushrooms and french beans finish cooking.

This 2-Ingredient Banana Pancakes is the simplest pancake recipe there is but may take a bit of time to pan-fry.  You can again fry this earlier and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Get some chilled sparkling juice to serve with your 3-course meal or even just water spruced up with some lemon, lime or orange slices with a few sprigs of mint.

Finally, end your meal with coffee and a little cookie :)

Whatever menu you decide, whether it's one of your own or a combination of the above, I'm sure it'll be a hit and everyone will appreciate the effort! ^o^

Here's wishing you a lovely (and less expensive) Christmas meal in the company of good friends and family in the comfort of your home ;-)


  1. You just shared a delicious and interesting Christmas spread. Looks easy and would please everyone with its taste and appetizing presentation. I love everything in your budget menu which could easily cost a bomb at fancy restaurants. Merry Christmas to you and family.

    1. Same to you and your family. These are simple food that won't cost an arm and a leg! ;)

  2. Great ideas and... you've just reminded me of those 2 ingredient pancakes that I loved from a previous post. Wishing you a fab year end.

    1. You too. I'm all about easy recipes :)

  3. Oh yum! Yes, having a dinner party at home is most ideal and that is my preference too. Those dishes you suggested are really great as they are on the low stress level sort, easy and quick to prepare. Those are the sort of food I also like to feed a crowd hee..hee..

    1. You're such a good cook that anyone would love to be invited to your dinner parties! ^_*

  4. your cooking looks appetising as always! this would be a very nice homemade christmas dinner indeed. unfortunately i'm worse than a noob when it comes to cooking, so i have to take my family out for our christmas eve dinner. i've already paid the restaurant - about RM700 for seven persons, which i hope will satisfy everyone! :D

    1. RM100 per head is a very good price for a Christmas eve dinner (I'm assuming it's a Chinese sit-down dinner?). It's very difficult to find a western meal (with steaks involved) at that price! ;D I'm sure your family will enjoy any dinner that you arrange :)

  5. I like that egg potato salad & the pan fried salmon, yum~~


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