Christmas will be a quieter event this year, with a greater degree of relaxation, stay-cations and more emphasis on cost-saving hacks like "stretch cooking" (making ingredients stretch further).
That's the belief of Pam Cossill, Pak'nSave Mill Street Store Manager in Hamilton and, as her name might suggest, a great proponent of one of New Zealand's standout food brands: Pams.
"The Kiwi Christmas is changing and will look very different for a lot of people this year," she says, "but we still need to put together a memorable Christmas feast – particularly after the year we have all had, thanks to Covid-19."
Pak'nSave's research shows how Christmas 2020 will differ from all others.Covid-19 created a trend of returning to scratch baking and cooking; the supposed rigours of lockdown re-ignited Kiwis' love of DIY kitchen time and increased the focus on fresh, healthy and homemade options.
"Over the lockdown, Kiwis said, 'hold on a second…we are making all this stuff and saving a lot of money. That's what triggered the behaviour to return to scratch cooking," says Cossill.
This time last year, Kiwis bought takeaways and convenience foods but Pak'nSave statistics show people are now opting to save money and do it themselves.
Cossill says: "From what we have heard from our customers, a relaxed family Christmas will be in vogue this year. Some will have hardships while others will be cautious with their spending. Either way, we are expecting lower spending on Christmas food and more use of stretch cooking and a heightened demand for great value fresh food – so it's really important that Pak'nSave deliver this for customers this year of all years.
"Others will still want to produce a really good spread and feast, and Pams is a perfect partner to do this in the kitchen this Christmas."
Anyone familiar with a kitchen pantry will be familiar with the Pams brand – created when the country was reeling from the Great Depression, first appearing on Four Square shelves in 1937.
People were hurting and they needed a new value option. New Zealanders valued this approach and have rewarded the brand with steady loyalty, consistently voting it the winner of the most recognised brand values in the country, she says – "affordable, quality, memorable".
"Speak to the average home baker in New Zealand, most use Pams because they are so sure of it. This brand is about preventing Kiwis from paying through the nose for things that aren't anything to do with the quality of a product," says Cossill.
Pams products have always been associated with quality, affordability and everyday value; a brand that is a 'go-to' in kitchens around New Zealand. The Pams range has grown over the years, reflecting customers' openness to trends, tastes, ideas and ranges from vanilla essence, to duck legs from a Cambridge duck farm, to decadent cookies.
Cossill has some tips of her own for making things go further for your family this Christmas:
- Swap fresh herbs for dried herbs, or fresh fruit garnish for dried fruit garnish to save some cash – then you'll have some pantry spice staples for future recipes
- Use silver beet instead of kale or spinach
- For any sheet bakes or tray bakes, buy your meat from the butchery and customise to the family's liking
- Instead of a dinner with duck and cherries, swap out for chicken and cranberries
- Try your hand out a homemade pavlova or just make an ambrosia instead
Pams also has three Christmas feast menus this year, says Cossill: "They're all about making ingredients stretch, feature six ingredients or less and enable Kiwis to style up the recipes and make them a bit more special if their budget can accommodate it. Nothing is un-substitutable in the recipes, so you can make things work based on what you can handle."
No matter what the budget, she says, Pak'nSave and Pams have an answer for what will be one of the most unusual, yet undoubtedly memorable, Christmases ever.