Friday, January 30, 2015

What to Feed Your Company

   One of the big things that people think about when having company is "What will we eat?" Sometimes I think I don't dwell on this aspect enough as I tend to find decorating or thinking of things to do a little more exciting but generally we do figure out something to eat.
  We could of course always have fancy little appetizers and a five course meal to follow but most of us just don't live in that sort of reality. Maybe we will have that sort of thing for a fancy occasion that we spend a lot of time preparing for but for day to day hospitality that just generally isn't realistic. So don't let yourself feel bad for not having a fancy meal for your guests. Food is good (and if it isn't burnt or otherwise unpalatable that is a plus) but the real importance of hospitality is spending time with each other - not focusing on some great fancy meal.

 Pies are another example of something that is fun for special occasions but certainly not something we need to produce every time that we have company.

Okay- now for some ideas of practical food to serve to company. Things that taste good but don't leave us feeling stressed out and having blown our food budget.

  My mom is the first example I ever observed as a hostess and she was and is a good one. She doesn't cook fancy meals but they are tasty and she does a good job of preparing things in advance (something I am still trying to learn and apply in my life). Here are some of the foods that I associate with my mom:

  • Roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. This seemed to be an every Sunday meal of my childhood. She was able to put it in the oven before we left for church and then it would be ready when we got home. The smells when we arrived home were always delicious! At our place it was a goat roast as that is what my parents raise for meat. She also does the same thing with a chicken fairly often now. The beauty of this sort of meal on a Sunday is that lunch was always ready to go and so we could easily invite over somebody to eat with us after church.
  • Stir-fry.  This is another common meal of my Mom's. It is a good one for using up some of the produce from their bountiful garden and it tastes good too. She usually used cut up chicken but you could also use pork or beef chunks or whatever. Then she puts in cabbage, zucchini, onions, garlic, carrots and whatever other veggies might be available. Rice is easy to cook to go with it. Stir-fry isn't one to really cook in advance but you can have everything chopped up and in the fridge and ready to go. Or you can just assign everyone a job and work together to get your stir-fry made.
  • Mashed Potatoes with Chicken and Noodles (Homemade is definitely best! ) This is one of my Dad's favorites. This is another fairly simple meal (though making the noodles does complicate it a bit but you don't have to do that) and it uses basic inexpensive ingredients.
  • Biscuits and Gravy Good for breakfasts but it also works for a quick lunch or supper if you have unexpected guests.
My Grandma was another example for me in the art of hospitality. Some of the foods that I especially remember her serving were:

  • Goolash
  • Egg Bake
  • Cherry Chocolate Cake
  • Ice Cream (a very easy dessert!)
  • Sandwiches - There is nothing wrong with having a sandwich buffet for your guests.

Here are some foods that I have found nice and easy for when we have company:

  • Soup, Stew or Chili. This is something I tend to serve most when we have lunch company (when Ken is at work). I like to do it because it is pretty easy and can generally can be made ahead of time and then just sit simmering on the stove until we are ready to eat. I also tend to make it at these times as Ken isn't so fond of soup but I like it so we can eat it while he isn't there. For non-company lunches we usually just eat leftovers so I don't usually cook for that meal unless we are having company. That said soup (even to serve to company) can be a great way to use leftovers up - for instance roast can go into beef stew, taco meat into chili, leftover veggies or gravy can go in soup and so forth.
  •  Spaghetti This is just a nice meal to always have the ingredients on hand for as it is so quick and easy to throw together and most everyone likes it. So this tends to be my choice if life has been very busy or guests are spur of the moment.
  • Fruit like Watermelon is a nice and easy food to serve when company comes. 
  • Popcorn makes a nice snack if you have friends over to play in the afternoon. It is easy to keep on hand for whenever if might be needed and easy to fix.
  • Coffee Cake or Muffins with Scrambled Eggs tends to be one of my go to breakfasts if I have a bunch of company staying with us.
  • Chicken Rice Burritos is another recipe that I have used for company quite a few times.
  • Fresh Bread. One thing that I have found is most people seem to enjoy homemade fresh bread. So though some of us might find that normal (but still yummy) there are some people that hardly ever get it and fresh bread makes a nice addition to most any meal.
  • Homemade Pizza. 
 As I was writing this I realized that I really tend to vary our menu quite a lot when hosting company. It might make it easier for me if I would just stick with some of my tried and true recipes for company times - but alas that doesn't seem to be my style. :-)

  One thing I do know - if you are having company stay with you for an extended period of time (more than a day) than if you don't do this normally already then I would highly recommend having a menu for this time. It can ease so much stress to already have your meals figured out and all the ingredients on hand before the guests ever arrive. I admit that this doesn't always happen in my life but I sure prefer the times that it does.

  So.... I would really like to hear what you have found to be easy foods to serve to your guests that have also been well received. If you have links to recipes I would love it if you would share that as well! OR - what have you especially liked when you went to someone else's house?


Amy and Mark said...

Growing up my grandmother and mother always served huge, fancy meals for company and so when Mark and I first married I really felt that was the way to go. Then, I realized how expensive it was to serve food that way and it did not fit into our budget five years ago or now.
I always said that I didn't like soup but as our family has grown, I have tried making lots of different soups and homemade bread for events and it turns out I do like some soup!
I also think simple is best when serving a group of children (such as a child's birthday party or homeschool group) to keep it really simple. We have started offering sandwich staples and bread and then we just serve fruit and veggies alongside. This is much less stress and at the end much less cleanup than trying to serve soup or pasta to young children.
I love this series Abbi! Thank you for all of the great ideas!

Abbi said...

Amy, Thanks so much for telling about what you have done and has worked for you too!


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