Holiday time is the time for entertaining, but if you’re not an experienced cook it can be a stressful situation. We have a solution for you – a build-your-own meal buffet. Yes, it still requires some preparation and cooking, but it’s a great way to get the family involved at mealtime. A huge bonus is that you don’t have to cater to everyone’s specific dietary requirements – they can mix and match to their preferences.
Here’s our guide to a DIY meal buffet:
Choose the style of meal. Is it a lunchtime sarmie by the pool? Or are you catering an evening meal? Choose from any of these five categories below:
Gather all the ingredients and lay them out on a large dining table. Plan your buffet from left to right, so that you can form a nice orderly queue. First on the left is the plate or bowl; last on the right as you leave the buffet should be the cutlery and serviettes. If you’re building burgers, for example, you’ll need the bun before the burger patty, and the ketchup towards the end.
Write cards for each dish if it’s not clear what it contains – for example, ‘Spicy butternut soup’ or ‘ Vegetarian roast mushrooms’.
If you’re serving up hot food, ask your friends and family to bring along their appliances to help keep everything warm. You can easily gather 2 or 3 panini presses for quesadillas, or a few induction plates to keep soup warm.
DIY buffet ideas:
Perhaps the easiest, building your own burger is a fun activity for adults and kids. Offer various options like chicken or beef patties, salad fillings and a range of sauces. A large tray of oven-baked chips rounds off a tasty meal!
Similar to burgers, tacos have plenty of room for variety and different flavours. Mince or bean fillings, taco shells or wraps, and some salad items get you started off. Sauces like guacamole, sour cream and tomato salsa mean that everyone gets something to suit their level of spice.
A great lunchtime option for when you don’t want to slave away in a hot kitchen all day. Salads, salads and more salads are on offer, with a variety of extras in small bowls. Items like olives, chicken strips, cheese cubes and toasted seeds are great options. Don’t forget the dressings – creamy and rich or light and zesty.
If you have a pizza oven, this is an excellent way to feed your guests. Let your guests get creative by mixing and matching their own toppings.
Throw filled wraps in a hot pan or on a sandwich press, and serve with cheese, Mexican-style salads and salsas.
Soup and rolls
If the weather is a little cooler, a soup buffet is a great group meal solution. Two or three soups should do it – with at least one vegetarian option. Serve with seed loaf, crusty rolls, ciabatta and a selection of spreads. A few bowls of seeds, grated cheese or croutons round out a delicious meal.