After two Covid-affected Christmases, it feels as though life is a bit more normal this year. The holiday period promises to be a time when we can reunite with the people we love, with many families expecting visitors from overseas, or travelling themselves either internationally or locally.
Food is generally a key element for Kiwi get-togethers, whether it’s a casual summer barbecue or a Christmas Day feast, but there is an ever-present danger we will spend so long in the kitchen that we miss out on spending time with our guests or visiting family.
But don’t panic – we’ve got tips and recipes to make entertaining a breeze no matter where or who you are cooking for.
Top tips for feeding a crowd
Plan ahead - decide on your menu as early as possible and work out what you need to buy.
Prep ahead – work out what parts of the meal you can make in advance and keep in the fridge or freezer so you can enjoy the time you have with your guests.
Keep it simple – everyone wants to enjoy good company and good food. But that doesn’t mean you need a seven-course meal or four different options for meat mains. In fact, it’s okay to invite guests for a short food event such as drinks and dessert or bubbles and brie (sparkling wine and a cheese board) if you want to catch up but can’t face catering an entire meal.
Eat outside when you can. Not only does this keep everyone safer in these Covid times, it’s also more informal and relaxing for everyone, including the host. You don’t need fancy outdoor furniture – throw picnic rugs on the ground and opt for finger food or dishes you can eat easily with a fork.
Cater for the kids – if you know you are going to have several younger guests, look at having child-friendly, easy options such as pizza, pasta or even sausages on the barbecue. Then you can feed the kids first, put on a movie or set up games and let the adults enjoy a more leisurely, sophisticated meal in peace.
Have staples on standby – sometimes a gathering turns into an impromptu meal together. Those unplanned events can be the most fun, unless you are the one suddenly trying to find enough food to feed two families. Ordering in is one option but a cheaper, healthier alternative might be popping a batch of previously made, frozen Bolognese mince in the microwave and boiling up a couple of packets of spaghetti. Or put some pre-made chicken kebabs on the barbecue, whip up a salad and send someone out for garlic bread.
Ask for help. If you love to cook and enjoy the effort that goes into planning, preparing and producing a meal, knock yourself out. If you are more into the fellowship than the food, opt for a potluck meal and ask everyone to contribute. Don’t be afraid to assign some people mains and others desserts – you can’t live on chocolate brownie alone.
If you are having guests to stay or heading away, order an extra bag of Te Atatu Toasted cereal or try our Breakfast Selection so you know you have a healthy, delicious breakfast sorted.