Friday, August 13, 2010

Hospitality Hints

Amanda writes:

Jason and I like to have people over after church, but I am not a naturally organized person so it is difficult for me to have a meal ready for after church. Could you share ideas on what you make that can easily be put on the table after church? What kind of preparation do you do before hand to make things go smoothly?

What a great question!!!  One of the biggest challenges a homemaker faces in opening her home to others is what to serve to folks and how to get it all ready in time, especially if she has small children.

Here are some of my tips:

*Start small--if you are new to this, then consider hosting a dessert and simply serving pie or cookies and coffee or tea or having friends over for an afternoon snack.  If you can afford it, order pizza from Dominos, often they have $6 pizzas or buy one, get one offers.

*Choose a simple meal that you know is tasty and that doesn't take a lot of time to prepare

*Take as many short-cuts as you can--while my homemade butterhorns are really tasty and simple to make and someday they will be a staple for guests, they still take more time than buying a loaf or two of french bread from the local grocery bakery and this tired, pregnant Mama-of-4 doesn't have time to spare.  For $2 I can have the bread done just by grabbing some on my weekly shopping trip.  Simple!  Ice-cream or popsicle bars, which are usually on sale in the summer are a quick and easy dessert for a crowd if you don't have the time to bake something up.

*Don't expect too much out of yourself.  It can be easy to think you need to do this or that for company but I try to remind myself that the point is fellowship, not perfection.  If I hadn't invited this or that family over, they would probably be rummaging through the fridge for leftovers right now.  So, me serving ice water instead of fancy lemonade or expensive pop, and serving spaghetti and salad is an improvement over what they would have been eating otherwise.  And even if it was just sandwiches, chips, and fruit, it would still be delightful, because food eaten with friends always tastes better!

*Learn the art of crockpot cooking.  Crockpots can be lifesavers on Sundays as you can leave roasts, chicken noodle soup, or chilis in them and they are ready to eat when you return from church. 

*Casseroles--the easiest Sunday dinners I make involve making a casserole the evening before and popping it into the oven as we're leaving for church.  Just be sure to use a low temp, like 300. 

*Baked potatoes--a while back I talked about how we got into a habit of serving baked potatoes to company since money was tight with my husband's wrist injury.  Most people enjoy a baked potato if you have various dressings or fixings they can choose from to put on top.  Potatoes are very inexpensive and you can leave them to bake on low in the oven for a couple of hours while you are at church.

*Keep in mind what works best for your family right now.  I have 3 kids who are solid-food eaters and don't take morning naps.  When I have an infant, I doubt we will have many people over for lunches because it will be a nursing frenzy when we get home.  However, if the baby tends to sleep better in the evening, we may start having people over on Saturday nights.  If your kids are in total meltdown mode after church each week, you may have to wait a year or two until it's feasible to do company for Sunday lunch.  Try going to an earlier service, if possible, or pack a high-protein snack to give your child at church so they aren't quite so hungry after church.

*Consider doing a potluck.  Every family brings a couple of dishes to share.  Then you only have to make two things (both of which can be store-bought if you are strapped for time) and there's lots of variety.

So, Amanda, here are a few ideas to get you started for prepping your hospitality meal:

Chili, Cornbread, Fruit Salad, Tortilla Chips and Salsa, Ice Water

Saturday: Buy all ingredients, make up the fruit salad and a pan of cornbread
Sunday morning:  Throw chili ingredients in the crockpot (don't forget to turn it on! =)
After church: Set table, fill pitchers, pull out the salad, dump bag of chips in bowl, serve chili

Lasagna, French Bread, Jello salad, Lettuce Salad, Iced Tea

Saturday: Make Jello salad and refrigerate, prepare lasagna and put in fridge, wash lettuce leaves and bag up, prepare the iced tea, purchase french bread
Sunday morning: Pop lasagna in the oven, prepare the salad (or wait until right before serving if desired)
After church: Pull lasagna out, set table (with company's help), slice up the bread, put the salads and tea on the table

Baked Potatoes, Rolls, Corn, Ice Water, Oatmeal cookies

Saturday night:  Fill several small bowls with various toppings: shredded cheddar, bacon bits, sour cream, chopped chives, butter, etc.  Put in fridge.
Purchase rolls and frozen corn.  Purchase or make cookies.

Sunday morning:  Wash and poke potatoes.  Wrap with foil if desired.  Pop them in the oven on 300.  Put the corn in a microwaveable bowl and refrigerate.

After church: Pull potatoes out of oven.  Put all the topping bowls and dressings on the table,  Throw the rolls in a basket.  Microwave corn while your guests are filling water pitchers.  Serve cookies after the meal.

I really hope this helped Amanda!  Thanks for asking!

1 comment:

Amanda Swick said...

Thanks Lindsey. I have been struggling with this for years and didn't know who to ask for help. I always felt bad when I was still trying to get stuff together and my guests were sitting around forever waiting for a meal. Now I have a starting point. Thanks a bunch. I am excited to try this stuff out when the students come back in the fall.

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