A Complete Noche Buena Menu For Every Budget

A Complete Noche Buena Menu For Every Budget

Whether you're going real fancy or keeping it low key for your annual Christmas Eve dinner with the family, we've got you covered with three different Noche Buena feasts that are guaranteed to satisfy your Christmas cravings.

The countdown to the Christmas season has already started. Weeks before this holiday season, most people are already excited for the much-awaited reunion with family and friends. Some have started going out to find the best gifts for their loved ones while the head of the house has begun ticking off lovely dishes that would make it to this year's Noche Buena feast.

Whether you're in to splurge or going on a shoe-string budget for your annual Christmas Eve dinner with your family, we've got you covered. We've listed down a complete set of dinner menus that would fit every budget, without having to compromise on what Christmas should taste and feel like.

Low Budget Menu

Pancit Canton
 

For a tight budget, I've decided to keep it to one starter, three mains - to be served with plain white rice - and one dessert. Although the variety is limited, you can still choose to cook these dishes in big batches to cater to a larger family. Each dish featured in this menu requires fewer and cheaper ingredients to make so it's definitely a bang for your buck.

Start off your meal with Lumpiang Shanghai, a Filipino style spring roll filled with minced meat and vegetables. Easily one of my all-time favorite party snacks, these deep fried delights are best enjoyed with chili sauce or banana ketchup. Follow up with Pancit Canton, a stir-fried noodle dish with a unique mix of umami flavors, some Fried Chicken (a reliable crowd pleaser!) and Pork Menudo, a hearty stew commonly served at Filipino fiestas. Then, serve up an easy 4-ingredient Mango Graham for a sweet ending to your festive feasting. With a combination of carbs, proteins, stews and treats available, this low budget menu will hardly leave you and your family wanting.

Related: Introduction to Noche Buena

Mid-Tier Budget

Leche Flan
 

For the mid-tier option, I've gone with an additional starter and dessert, but since I've added a beef entrée, I've decided to keep to the same number of mains. After all, beef is typically more expensive than pork or chicken. Feel free to remove the beef and add another chicken or pork dish is you wish. It's all about give and take!

Honestly, I've kept Lumpiang Shanghai in all of the menus as it is a staple at any Filipino party. Let's just say a party won't be a party without our famous Lumpiang Shanghai! But aside from that, you can also offer up some Cheese Sticks - for all you non-Filipinos, they are basically cheese slices stuffed in spring roll wrappers and then, deep fried to a golden brown crisp - and yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. 

For the mains, I've chosen Pinoy Style Spaghetti, a sweeter variation as compared to its Italian cousin (but just as comforting and so quintessentially Filipino nonetheless), a classic Boneless Lechon Belly with an amazing crispy crackling skin and tender juicy meat paired with two different dipping sauces - a sweet yet savory liver sauce and a punchy Sinamak (spiced vinegar) - and a rustic Beef Kaldereta (a tomato-based Filipino stew).

Complete the meal with Leche Flan, a velvety smooth custard with caramel, and Pichi Pichi, a chewy gelatinous dessert made from cassava and sugar. The contrast in textures and temperatures is guaranteed to excite your taste buds. 

Related: Christmas Dinner in Asia: Twists on Classics from Your Resident Asian-Canadian

Luxe Budget

Beef Morcon
 

Go big with this luxe menu! Apart from increasing the number of mains to five in total, I've made sure to include a wide variety of proteins - chicken, beef, fish, you name it! It's also time to upgrade your plain white rice to Fried Rice to add style and flavor to your spread. Each dish might require more ingredients to make and a longer time to cook, but that's alright. Your blood, sweat and tears will be worth it when you see your loved ones enjoying the food you've prepared for them.

Pair your Lumpiang Shanghai with some good old Chicken Wings as appetizers. Wings are so versatile, you can serve them in any style and with any sauce you prefer. Don't forget to save some room for your entrées which include a wholesome Lasagna, a Filipino stuffed milkfish known as Rellenong Bangus, a showstopping Beef Morcon stuffed with eggs and vegetables, a fancy Chicken Cordon Bleu complete with ranch dressing and cheese sauce, and (here's a special treat for you adventurous eaters) Lengua - otherwise known as ox tongue cooked in creamy mushroom sauce.

Luckily, we have a separate stomach just for desserts 'cause you definitely don't want to miss out on the Leche Flan and icy Buko Pandan - this Filipino dessert consists of fresh young coconut served with sweetened milk or cream along with green agar jelly that has been flavored with pandan extract. A refreshingly cool treat to soothe your belly after a heartwarming meal. 

Related: 12 Festive Dishes for a Merry Christmas Feast

A few useful tips to help you get through the holiday preparation - make sure to come up with a  grocery list intended only for the Christmas evening. This helps prevent impulse buying while you're at a grocery store. It is also equally important to take note of the number of people you plan to share this with so that you could carefully plan out your portions. And lastly, cook with love. The spirit of Christmas is never really just about the food on the table, it's also about the warmth that we get when we share it with people we truly care for.  Stay safe everyone and Merry Christmas.

 

Anton Amoncio is a Filipino chef and restaurateur. Back in 2016, he won then Asian Food Channel's Food Hero Competition. Follow his culinary adventures on all socials @antonamoncio

For more delicious recommendations and recipes for Christmas, see our Festive Feasts page. 

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