Christmas menu planning

1 January 0001

With many of us watching the pennies more closely, it's an ideal time to make a virtue out of necessity and plan a healthier festive menu that avoids the excesses while still delivering the all important 'wow' factor.

Menu changes

If you've always gone for turkey with all the trimmings, why not consider a different theme this year? A Mediterranean menu, for example, offers scope for a huge range of healthy and delicious meals that are simple and cost effective to prepare.

Whatever food, drink and snacks you choose to serve over the festive period, make a detailed shopping list - and don't leave the mammoth trip to the supermarket to the last minute! Apart from the crowded aisles, the closer it gets to Christmas, the emptier the shelves, and you may be forced to buy more expensive items or make last minute changes to your menu. Planning ahead also means you can think about how to make the best use of leftovers to avoid wasting food.

Tips for healthier festive food

The party foods in supermarkets can look tempting but is there a way you could save cash and calories? Buy frozen vol-au-vents, then bake and stuff with low-fat soft cheese or cranberry sauce and a sliver of camembert. Or roast some chestnuts - the only low-fat nut in existence!

Use up leftover chicken, beef or even salmon by sprucing it up into a fricassee. Just sauté some onion and garlic, add some seasonal veg, the pieces of leftover meat or fish, and some stock. Cook well, then stir in some low-fat Greek yoghurt just before serving.

Got masses of potatoes and carrots left over from your festive dinner? Go Mediterranean for breakfast on Boxing Day and create a fluffy tortilla. Simply make a thick omelette and lay the sliced veg on top with olives, tomatoes and peppers. Heat well until the egg is cooked through. Grill if you like a crispy topping.

By Azmina Govindji RD, Consultant Nutritionist and Registered Dietician.