by Natalie Bardwell
Our family is spontaneous. And by spontaneous, I mean, we get out of a meeting at 3, invite our friends for dinner without checking the fridge, discover there isn’t enough for everyone, come up with a plan and run to the grocery store with kids in tow. This probably happens twice a month, minimum.
But we love it. We love the spontaneity and I realize it is not for everyone. So no pressure for you to be like this if you’re thinking I’m crazy! Hospitality is in my blood. I love it. I read about it, pinterest it, live it every day. There is rarely a day when someone doesn’t stop in to say hello. As I write this two of our friends are working on their computers alongside me and my two housemates are sitting here too. Not to mention some repairmen working upstairs…it’s always a party here!
So. Back to last-minute dinners. Here are 5 tips for those moments when houseguests are coming for dinner and you need a quick, budget-friendly plan that tastes good!
1. Never underestimate breakfast for dinner. The other day we were down to crunch time with guests a couple hours from arrival. As I drove to the grocery store, I concluded that bacon and eggs was fast, easy and everyone loves it! It was a hit, and everyone was full! So scramble some eggs, fry up some bacon and toss a bowl of fruit salad: WIN! (Don’t forget the orange juice!)
2. Chili. Chicken or beef…keep your favorite chili recipe on hand and when you go grocery shopping, buy an extra can of each ingredient in the recipe so that you will always have the ingredients for chili available. Make sure it’s a recipe that can be whipped up in 30 minutes. I also suggest keeping some cooked, seasoned ground beef in your freezer for these exact moments.
3. Tacos/taco bowls. Same with the chili, if you have most of your ingredients around, whether it’s seasoned taco meat in the freezer or canned beans in the cupboard, you’ve got the beginnings of a meal, you can just run to the market and buy the add ins (fresh produce, dairy, etc.)
4. Salad. With meat….the men in your life will thank you. Buy a rotisserie chicken or grill up some steak, toss together a delicious salad with your favorite ingredients and you can even whip up a smoothie on the side for extra fillers!
5. Potluck. My very favorite. When I don’t have the time or money (which is often, haha) I am not shy to ask our guests to bring something to contribute and most often they ask me before I even get to it.
If you are really pressed for time, be sure to include something to snack on and some drinks while your guests wait for you to cook. We have a kitchen conducive to cooking and socializing at the same time, but I realize many people don’t. Therefore, have some snacks out to tide your guests over while you throw your ingredients together…don’t forget a little jazzy music and you have the makings of a great dinner party!