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Self Catering Holidays

 As Britons seek new ways to save money during the economic crisis, many are seeking to decrease their spending on non-essential items and services. One major expense that some Britons are looking to avoid is the tremendous cost of catering holiday meals for family and friends. Eliminating the cost of catered food, however, does not mean that the holiday parties need to end. With a well-stocked kitchen and a bit of culinary know-how, anyone can cater an Easter or Christmas dinner for the entire family and save hundreds of dollars without sacrificing any of the experience.

The first key to self-catering holidays is to enlist help from the guests. Encourage family and friends to bring a side dish, salad or dessert to share. Provide them with a full count of the other guests and, if possible, a list of their food preferences and any food allergies, particularly those that are severe. If each of your fifteen guests brings a portion of the meal, you can focus your efforts on providing high-quality entrees and main dishes. Be sure to ask each guest what they are willing to bring and steer guests away from duplicating dishes.

To prepare a sufficient quantity of each main dish, consult a cookbook and scale up your servings generously based on the number of expected guests. Be sure to allow sufficient flexibility to account for surprise guests and to allow for the always possible day after leftovers. If your main dish is meat-based, consult with your butcher to ensure that the cut of meat that you select will be sufficient for the guests and to gain advice on proper cooking techniques. Purchase your meat fresh two days before the holiday to avoid a lengthy defrosting process.

Before cooking for your holiday, ensure that you have pots and pans large enough to accommodate the quantity of food that you will need to prepare. An investment in high-quality, large-scale cookware will pay for itself when self-catering holidays in the future. Be careful not to become too overambitious -- measure your cookware before purchase if you have any doubts that it will be compatible with your oven or stovetop.

Following these steps and choosing fresh, high-quality ingredients will ensure that your holiday parties continue to please all of your friends and family -- without sacrificing your budget.

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