Creating a Memorable Noche Buena Feast on a Budget

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If you’re the cook in the family, Christmas can be a stressful time. While the others are busy budget-planning for gifts or sprucing up the house with decorations, you’re researching recipes and scouring the supermarkets.

It’s not just time and effort that makes holiday cooking hard. Whipping up a festive noche buena feast within budget is like rocket science, especially with the TRAIN law sending food and beverage prices through the roof.

But if you’re like me whose love language is food, you know you’ll rise to the occasion and give your family a delicious, memorable meal. In case you get overwhelmed or get lost in supermarket aisles, here’s a budget guide for you:

Intimate Noche Buena for P2,000

Whether you’re spending the holidays alone, with your significant other, or one or two family members, a P2,000 budget will go a long way. Tip: save the gift basket given by your employer and use the items as ingredients for your noche buena meal.

Keep your menu simple, with two main dishes, one dessert, sides, and some drinks. Take out your finest plates and cutlery, scented candles, and other Christmas accessories for a more festive and enticing set-up. Here’s a sample menu:

Pasta (Aglio olio)

Simple aglio olio with crushed pepper flakes and fried chicken. Image provided by the author

500g linguine – P87

250ml olive oil – P148

227g parmesan cheese – P158

50g crushed pepper flakes – P37

50g fresh parsley or basil – P50

Other ingredients (garlic, pepper, salt, optional herbs) – P50

Total: P530

Here’s the recipe.

Main: Pan-Seared Rib Eye Steak

Well-done steak. Image provided by the author

½ kilo beef rib eye steak – P400

100g salted butter – P58

Fresh rosemary – P50-P70

1 whole garlic – P5

Steak sauce (check out these recipes) – P50

Total: P583

Here’s how to cook a proper steak a la Gordon Ramsay.

Dessert: No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

No oven? No problem with this no-bake dessert. Image provided by the author

250g Philadelphia cream cheese – P159

250 ml Nestle all-purpose cream – P55

200g crushed graham crackers (2 packs) – P70

100g salted butter – P58

24g unflavored gelatin – P17

21oz canned blueberry filling – P200

500g sugar – Php 65

20ml vanilla extract – P44

Total: P668

Check out the recipe here.

Beverage

Anything worth, get creative – P219

Corporate goodies served on the side – Free

  • A bottle of wine, if you have a generous employer
  • Queso de bola
  • Ham
  • Crackers

Total: P2,000

With just P2000, you can have a simple but fancy meal this Christmas.

Pinoy Fiesta-Inspired Noche Buena for P4,000

If your family has a discerning palate and want to nosh to their heart’s content, you can’t go wrong with classic Filipino dishes. Here’s what you can do for P4,000:

The star of the show: Asian-style grilled ribs. Image provided by the author

Asian-style Grilled Ribs

1kg pork ribs – P375

Scallions – P50

Asian-style marinade (soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chili powder, honey, lime, salt, pepper, sesame oil) – P200

Total: P625

Lumpiang Shanghai

1kg ground pork – P140

60 pcs lumpia wrapper – P90

2 carrots – P34

Other ingredients (egg, seasoning, cooking oil, dip) – P150

Total: P414

Creamy carbonara with ingredients from the company gift basket. Image provided by the author

1 kilo spaghetti – P140

250ml olive oil – P148

227g parmesan cheese – P158

50g fresh parsley or basil – P50

500g bacon – P320

250 ml Nestle all-purpose cream (2) – P110

400g shiitake mushroom – P161

100g salted butter – P58

Total: 1,145

Grilled liempo: a Pinoy favorite. Image provided by the author

1 kilo pork liempo – P300

Homemade barbecue sauce + dip – P200

Total: P500

Grilled Squid

Simple but delectable grilled squid. Image provided by the author

540g squid – P340

1 lemon/lime – P25

Marinade (soy sauce, lime, garlic, vinegar) – P50

Total: P415

Mango Float

Image by The Pink Baker via Flicker Creative Commons

250 ml Nestle all-purpose cream (2) – P110

200g crushed graham crackers (2 packs) – P70

200g graham crackers (2 packs) – P70

500ml sweetened condensed milk – P114

2 big ripe mangoes – P80

Total: P444

Leche Flan

Image by Apples Matutina via Flickr Creative Commons

20ml vanilla extract – P44

1 dozen eggs – P100

500g sugar – P65

Total: P209

Beverage

There’s nothing more Filipino than ending a big meal with beer. Get six bottles of local pale ale for P248.

Total: P4,000

A Christmas Buffet for P7,000

Inviting some friends and relatives over? Showcase your culinary skills with an affordable but party-inspired feast. With a small budget and loads of creativity, you can impress your guests and give them a good time. Set up a buffet table with a mix of main dishes, appetizers, cold cuts and cheeses, fruit, salad, and dessert to keep it festive.

Try these simple but impressive recipes to make sure your Christmas party goes with a bang:

Antipasti Platter

An antipasti platter to get the party rolling. Image provided by the author

100g Salami di Milano – P320
150g Prosciutto di Parma – P200

3pcs pork sausage – P200

Assorted cheeses – P400

Baguette/ciabatta – P60

Grapes or berries – P150

Total: P1350

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

A sneaky way to add vegs to the Christmas table. Image provided by the author

200g smoked and cured bacon, thinly sliced – P150

500g fresh asparagus – P250

Total: P400

Spaghetti Bolognese (Serves 7-10)

You can never go wrong with meaty spaghetti. Image provided by author

1 kilo spaghetti – P140

250ml olive oil – P148

227g parmesan cheese – P158

50g crushed pepper flakes – P37

50g Fresh parsley or basil – P50

½ kilo ground beef – P140

½ kilo ground pork – P100

200g bacon – P150

2 carrots – P34

500g fresh, ripe tomatoes – P100

70g tomato paste – P15

2pc fresh red bell peppers – P60

500g tomato and basil sauce – P149

Total: P1,315

Other ingredients (garlic, pepper, salt, optional herbs) – P50

Total: P530

Here’s the recipe.

Homemade Pizza Supreme (Serves 7-10)

There’s nothing more impressive than homemade pizza. Image provided by the author

250 g store-bought pizza crust (3pcs) – P360

Homemade pizza dough  (4 batches) – P350

200g shredded Mozzarella cheese – P257

200g white cheddar cheese – P170

2 large white onions – P50

330g pitted black olives – P94

400g Norma eggplant sauce – P200

2 large green bell peppers – P80

400g shiitake mushroom – P161

½ kilo cooked ground beef – P140

Total: P1,512

No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake

Image by Nicole Perry via Flickr Creative Commons

250g Philadelphia cream cheese (2) – P318

250 ml Nestle all-purpose cream (2) – P110

200g crushed graham crackers (2 packs) – P70

300ml sweetened condensed milk – P57

100g salted butter – P58

24g unflavored gelatin – P17

2pcs key lime – P60

500g sugar – P65

20ml vanilla extract – P44

Total: P799

Check out the recipe here.

Your favorite Christmas kakanin – P300

Have a nostalgic holiday feast with an assortment of kakanin. Here’s a list of where to buy the treats.

Rotisserie chicken (2pcs) – P450

Drinks

Two bottles of wine – P700

Fresh lemonade to cleanse the palate – P200

Total: P7126

You’ll save a lot more and make noche buena more special if you cook the dishes yourself, but if you’re pressed for time, don’t beat yourself up for ordering or even eating out.

No matter your budget, you can whip up show-stealing dishes if you know where to find good ingredients for less. For fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, and seafood, I’d suggest buying at Farmer’s Market, Cubao. Buy deli meats and cheeses in small portions for more variety. Prepare a list along with the detailed recipes to make sure you get everything you need without going over budget. And more importantly, plan and prepare, get help in the kitchen, and have fun.

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