The Holidays are always the best time to reconnect with family. It’s a week of parties, hanging around with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. It’s putting aside work and catching up with everyone in your life. It also means that there’s a near-constant stream of food, and mentions of dieting (unless for obvious medical reasons) are wholly taboo.
Noche Buena has its origins during the Spanish occupation of the country. It came into being because the friars in the 16th century required their flock to fast until Christmas morning, and since 12 midnight is the morning of the 25th, people would feast before going to bed.
During the Holiday Season, the prices of many goods and ingredients tend to fluctuate. It is often in favor of “Christmas Basket” type items. If you’re looking to fit more on your list, here’s more on how you can do Noche Buena on a budget:
If you buy in the supermarket, cured hams cost around Php 203 to Php 700+ depending on the size. One alternative is buying the ham slices by the gram. 300 grams of sliced ham cost less than Php 100 pesos at supermarkets. You can also do the same for most other meat – bacon, in particular, is cheaper when bought uncured.
Cheese is a staple for many recipes that people cook during the holidays. If you want queso de bola for the Noche Buena, go for the local ones – imported ones cost around PHP400 while local ones cost less than PHP200. Other processed cheeses can do the trick, depending on what you want to cook. Pasteurized processed cheeses which contain 100% cheese cost around P60 while pasteurized cheese food that contain 51% cheese and 49% extenders cost only P35.
Canned fruits, or fruit cocktail mixes can cost upwards of Php 300 for large cans. Nothing beats fresh fruits, though. It’s ideal that you buy whatever fruits you want to go into your salad or desserts, or any dishes you plan on cooking early on in the day. Look to spend Php 500 total for a variety of fresh fruits.
People can’t get enough of pasta during parties. While rice is another staple, pasta is easy to cook in bulk for larger parties. Pasta is cheap enough, but varies depending on whether you’re using fettucine over angel hair, etc. Look to spend around Php 200 for a couple of kilos of pasta.
The truth is you don’t have to spend so much on your Christmas/New Year feast. If you’re organizing the family party, you’re guaranteed a lot of dishes if you go potluck. A spread is always appreciated, but what really matters is the time you spend with your family.