Wednesday, December 24

Noche Buena Tips

[Note: This article came out last December 20, 2008 in The Philippine Star]

Noche Buena Tips by Francis Maynard S. Maleon

Christmas is here once again and a lot of us want to make sure that our families have a good one. As usual, the Noche Buena is the most significant meal during this Christmas Season and we all want it to be as special as possible. At the same time, these days we have to be smart in buying food for our feast as sometimes we buy stuff that we do not really eat. For those of us who want to have a great Noche Buena Feast without breaking our Piggy Banks, here are some tips.

Tip no. 1: Set a Budget

During Christmas Season, we always fall under the “Pasko naman e” mentality. We all know what this is. We buy every food that we like reasoning out that it’s Christmas anyway. While this may be fun while buying the food, it’s not nearly as fun when you check your wallet after. For a family of five to seven, a PhP 1,000.00 peso budget for Noche Buena is just about right.

Tip No. 2: Go shopping for food after you had a meal

One of the worst things that you can do when shopping for Noche Buena food is to go to the grocery when you are starving. This is because when people enter the store with an empty stomach, your mind signals you to buy a lot of food which are in fact related to your current state of hunger and not on what you would want to eat during Noche Buena. What happens is that your stomach takes over your brain and before you know it, your cart is full of non-Noche Buena food stuffs which would either be wasted or consumed before Noche Buena. By eating before going to the grocery, you have a much clearer mind and you can choose the right kinds of food to eat while thinking of sweet baby Jesus.

Tip No. 3: Remember the Food Groups

Another problem that people encounter during grocery shopping for the big day is that everybody just tends to buy their favorite food without thinking of whether or not it would match all the other items in the dining table. This is why we sometimes have pancit and spaghetti as well as other forms of pasta at the same time. Then we have barbecue, porkchop, pork adobo and inihaw na liempo at the same table. While I am sue that you would love and could, much to your heart’s protestations, eat them all, it is nevertheless not a good idea to do so. Always remember that you want variety in your table and not just variety in the way of cooking the same type of food. During Noche Buena, vegetables and seafood like fishes always seem to be forgotten and gets pushed in the background in favor or chicken, pork and beef. Remember that Jesus was born in a manger and Joseph and Mary did not kill the cow, chicken, pig and sheep to celebrate His Birth.

Tip No. 4: That Special Christmas Food

Noche Buena should be special and should rise above those usual celebrations that you have during the year. It should be better than your birthday party because we are celebrating Jesus’ birth here and not a lowly mortal like yourself. To make things distinctly Christmassy you should always have something that would signify that it is a Christmas celebration. Ham for example is one type of food that makes the celebration a little extra Christmassy and would make your feast a true Noche Buena.

Here is a sample of a Noche Buena with a limit at PhP 1,000.00:

Ham- PhP 250 pesos

Chicken barbecue – 6 pieces, leg parts 120 pesos

1 Kilo Rice- 45 pesos

Fish Fillet- 180 pesos

Pancit or Spaghetti – 200 pesos

Juice -60 pesos

Leche Flan -120 pesos.

Noche Buena does not have to be costly to be special. Use your heart when thinking about Jesus this Christmas. For everything else, use your brain.

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