5 Mega tips to cook for unexpected guests
Unexpected guests can arrive at any time. Your cousins might stop by on their way through town or your wife may invite home colleagues from work.
Your teenager may inform you that he’s invited the entire soccer team to come over after the game.
Whatever the case, it’s no time to panic.
Check out the tips below to learn how to cook easy meals for unexpected guests and you’ll be ready for anything.
1. Stock Up On Essentials
Keep your fridge, freezer and pantry impromptu summer barbecue that can be prepared in a short amount of time.
- Stock your freezer with ingredients that can be served cold or baked without thawing. Many grocery and health food stores offer simple, delicious entrees and appetizers in the frozen food section.
Purchase one-bite delights like meatballs, spring rolls, ravioli and mini quesadillas then serve with sauces and toothpicks. Keep frozen shrimp on hand to sauté with pasta or serve with cocktail sauce. Stock up on margarita mixes or frozen juices to blend up tasty beverages.
- Fill your pantry with ready-to-serve snacks and entrees that require little preparation. Try one or more of the following:
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Gourmet chips and salsa
- Fancy meat, crackers and cheese trays
- Minute rice, dried pasta and artisan breads
- Bottled pasta sauces, salad dressings, curries and marinades
2. Alter Your Meal Plan
If guests are on their way and you’ve already started preparing dinner, think about how you can extend the meal to accommodate the extra mouths.
- Decide whether you can alter your main dish to make it serve more people. Instead of serving whole chicken breasts you may decide to chop them up and serve with pasta or rice and vegetables, which can be cooked in bulk for a crowd.
- Add an appetizer, soup or salad and serve smaller portions of the main dish. Finish the meal with a sweet treat like berries and ice cream or a specialty coffee to leave everyone feeling satisfied.
3. Plan Easy Appetizers, Sides and Entrees
If you have a few hours notice and some basic ingredients it’s easy to whip up a impromptu summer barbecue.
- Put together a quick, easy hors d’oeuvres tray. Hors d’oeuvres can be prepared quickly and eaten casually without formal table settings. Depending on the get together, you may be able to skip preparing a full meal and serve an assortment of appetizers and desserts instead.
- Arrange sliced red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, olives, pickles and crackers on a fancy tray with hummus, salsa or onion dip.
- Spread cream cheese on pickled asparagus and wrap with deli ham or prosciutto.
- Set out sliced French bread with olive oil and vinegar or herbed goat cheese.
- Pair stuffed grape leaves with olives, feta and pita slices.
- Toss a salad. Bagged salads are easiest, but for a really delicious side take a minute or two to chop a fresh head of lettuce, endive, arugula or spinach.Add a few extras like cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, sliced almonds, crumbled feta or parmesan. Dried fruits or fresh strawberries, blueberries or watermelon add fresh summer flavor to any leafy greens. Cooked but chilled chicken or shrimp can upgrade a simple salad to a main dish. Keep a few good dressings on hand and let guests select their favorites.
- Use pre-cooked meats. Ready-to-serve poultry, fish and red meat can drastically reduce meal prep time.
Many grocery delis offer rotisserie chicken, whole turkey breasts, roast beef and grilled salmon. Chicken can be chopped and used on salads or served with rice and curry or tikka masala sauce. Turkey breast and roast beef make great sandwiches, while salmon can be used in salads or tacos.
- Use your stove top. With a saucepan and a non-stick frying pan you can whip up a number of fresh, easy healthy meals. Sautee meat and vegetables for quick fajitas, or brown hamburger and add sauce for Sloppy Joes or spaghetti.
Shred some cheese for grilled sandwiches or quesadillas. For extra flavor add chicken, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. You can also toast tuna melts or BLTs.
4. Make It A Party
Turn the get together into a backyard barbecue or a festive fiesta so guests feel welcome and well-fed.
- Fire up the grill. Grab burgers, hot dogs and buns or pre-marinated carne asada and tortillas and invite your guests into the backyard for an impromptu summer barbecue. Be sure you’ve stocked up on condiments like catsup, mustard, mayonnaise and relish. Serve sliced watermelon, potato salad and a variety of chips to round out the meal. Keep a cooler full of ice and beer, soda or bottled water.
- Become a bar-tender. If you have a lot of company coming, a DIY meal such as a potato or taco bar can be a great way to keep things casual and be sure everyone gets just what they want. Bake potatoes in the oven or microwave and set out butter, shredded cheese, bacon bits, sour cream, chili and chives and guests can add their favorite toppings. For a taco bar lay out soft and hard tortilla shells, seasoned hamburger, chicken or fish, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa and sour cream. Serve rice and beans on the side for a real Mexican fiesta.
- More easy recipes to prepare for your guests by Nestle
By keeping a few staples on hand and some simple recipes in mind you’ll never panic over impromptu dinner preparations again. Once you understand the basics of how to cook easy meals for unexpected guests you’ll look forward to impressing them with your last-minute hosting skills.
An easy recipe to impress your guests, My favorite
5. Ordering healthy foods from home
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean you only get to eat boring meals.
You can order restaurant meals from home that will not only taste great, they’ll also fill you up and give you the tasty satisfaction you’re seeking while still being healthy.
When ordering healthy foods from home, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to help you eat nourishing, beneficial food no matter what.
Read the menu carefully before you place your order. Many menus offer calorie counts next to dishes so that you’ll know what you’re getting before you eat.
You should also make sure to peruse the whole menu before you pick your meal in order to make an informed decision.
Check the à La Carte menu and order small side dishes, such as soup and a side of vegetables, as your meal instead of a full entrée. You’ll still get delicious food from the restaurant, but it’ll be healthier and likely cheaper to boot.
Make smart choices about your food items to help keep your meals as healthy as possible.
Avoid eating complimentary bread sticks or tortilla chips, as those grains will quickly fill you up, but you’ll likely still eat your whole meal, meaning you’ll eat more than you intend to.
Think carefully about side orders as well, and swap out those french fries with a side of vegetables or order brown rice instead of white.
If it’s not possible to swap out unhealthy items for a healthier ones, it’s best to skip those ingredients altogether.
Ask for no sour cream on your tacos, no cheese on your hamburger, and no mayo on that sandwich. Swapping or skipping these items might seem like a small task, but it’s one that can make for a big health difference in the long run.
Steamed, grilled, roasted, or poached items are healthiest, as they preserve the vitamins and minerals in many foods without adding any unnecessary fats and calories.
Ask for dressings, sauces, and other accouterments on the side of your dish.
Many restaurants will go somewhat heavy-handed on those items and will fully douse your meal with these unhealthy toppings without meaning to.
Having them on the side means you’ll still be able to enjoy the added dose of flavor in smaller, more manageable and healthy portions.
Watching your portions is a big part of eating healthy food even when you’ve ordered out.
Try to avoid ordering from places that offer enormous portions, and always plan on having leftovers.
If you can’t avoid places that serve too much food, offer to split your meal with a friend in order to save money while eating less, or make sure to only eat half of what you’re served and save the rest for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
Understanding all your options, making smart choices, and limiting portions are key to keeping your nutritious and wholesome eating on track even while enjoying restaurant food at home. Use these tips to help you eat healthy the next time you decide to order in.