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How to get to the holiday dinner safely?

Author: Photo credit: Dror Avi. From PikiWiki
How can we organize for this multi-participant event most effectively? Here are some tips to get your head and holiday table in order

The Seder is perhaps the most festive event on the calendar, and it also entails quite a few challenges. The main one: the feast. In words a little less politically correct: hosting an average of 20-30 guests, including a large number of toddlers. So let’s leave aside for a moment the interior architecture that can cram them all around one table and the logistics involved in transporting chairs to your living room, and focus on the main problem: the food itself. How can we organize for this multi-participant event most effectively? Here are some tips to get your head and holiday table in order.

  1. Budget:
    Passover is a multi-system money pump that includes expenses for food, cleaning products, festive clothing and entertainment with children. Set a total budget for holiday expenses and derive from it the budget for meals in general and Seder dinner in particular. Without such a budget, the likelihood that your overdraft at the bank will increase or that you will need a loan after the holiday is high. Very high.

  2. The list:
    Our tendency as hosts is to estimate how many dishes you need, and buy exactly twice as much. So leave the estimates and start calculating: make sure how many invitees are actually expected to come, how many are adults and how many are children. Now we can reveal to you the secret formula for calculating the number of servings: a portion per diner. You read that right, 20 adult diners buy 20 schnitzels. For children, the schnitzel can be split in two (according to the calculation of one schnitzel for two children).

  3. Shopping
    : Shopping should be started on time: dry and frozen foods such as rice, frozen vegetables, matzo, etc., can be bought well in advance to avoid last-minute stress. All the well-known tips on smart shopping also apply to holiday shopping: stick to the list rather than tempting deals, don’t come hungry, check out cheap alternatives to well-known brands (usually on the bottom shelves), and so on.

  4. Menu
    : Many hours of thinking are devoted to the question: what to prepare? Usually this is the stage when the culinary genie emerges from within us and tries to impress the mother-in-law with dishes such as caramelized lamb kebabs on a bed of arugula leaves and pomegranates. So do yourself a favor and put the genie back in the bottle. Don’t try to specifically cater to the taste of each of the bearings, and leave the culinary briefs to Tu Be’Av. Now is the time for a taste that will hit the broadest common denominator: delicious, simple and loved. Don’t try to over-diversify either.
  5. Many cooks fear that the food they cooked will “not be enough” even though it is clear to every host and hostess that such an incident has never been documented. This terrifying thought often leads to the purchase of quantities of food that would not embarrass a regular army battalion, and oddly enough, some of the purchased food finds its way into the trash at the end of the meal. When planning the quantities, keep in mind that the amount eaten by the average person does not change much, even when it comes to a holiday meal. Here’s a rule of thumb to help you stay sane: At a dinner party, the average person will eat about 200 grams of protein, plus a carbohydrate of about 150 grams and an additional vegetable (raw or cooked) of about 100 grams.

  6. Preparations
    :Already at the stage of building the menu, a plan for cooking should be incorporated: what will be cooked when. You can include dishes that can be prepared in advance and frozen such as pies, dishes that can be partially prepared and only finished cooking in the last day or two, and dishes that can be prepared in advance such as roast and soup that even taste better after a day or two. Some desserts can also be prepared in advance without compromising their taste. Note: When cooking for many people, the preparation times you are used to may vary, and the size of the cooking and baking utensils may not always be enough. You should weigh the quantities according to the dishes available for cooking and serving.

What do all these tips have in common? Thinking and planning. The greatest enemy of the Seder dinner is repression. So instead of repressing the fact that a battalion of people comes to you for the Seder, where you already have to plan the meal: from the budget stage to the preparation stage. Remember: lack of planning is planning for failure. Happy holiday.

Download shopping list and meal planning page


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