Pinterest boards, google search, magazines, cookbooks…there are so many recipes available, so why is it so hard to plan you party food? Selecting food for your party can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. We are going to go through six steps to plan your party food.
1. Party Time!
What time of day are you serving your food? Do you need to serve breakfast, lunch, just cake and snacks, dinner or just appetizers? Try to give a variety to meet guest’s dietary needs. Here are some ideas for meals.
Breakfast and Brunch ideas
- Breakfast casseroles are a great option. I love breakfast casseroles! We often make them the day before a holiday. It’s easy to prepare them the day before and pop them into the oven the next morning. This will be less stressful the day of your party.
- Ham – ok I’m seriously not a huge fan of ham, but recently I’m giving it a chance. It’s so easy to prepare for a crowd. A slice of ham next to an egg breakfast casserole would be a great side dish and additional protein.
- Pastries – these are easy to pick up at a grocery store or bakery. I would recommend that if you serve pasties, also be sure to serve some sort of protein too. (You could even have ham next to the croissants and people could make sandwiches) You don’t want your guests to just be eating sweet treats. Your guests may also be watching their diet and sweets and carbs won’t be their first choice.
- Fruit salads and/or yogurt parfaits. This is a simple and healthy option. I like to set out ice cream glasses or parfait glasses and let the guests create their own parfaits. If you don’t have parfait glasses you could use wine glasses or martini glasses if you want something fun to serve these in for your guests. Of course you could use regular bowls too. You can have a couple yogurt flavors, fruits and granola for your guests to create their parfait.
- Quiche – these are always yummy. And you can buy these in the frozen section. They are easy to bake in the oven.
- Cold cut platter and Hawaiian rolls or croissants for sandwiches. And all the condiments.
- Pasta dish – Baked Mostccioli
- Salads – you can have a couple side salads – mixed green salad, Caesar salad, or a pasta salad
- Chicken or tuna salad
- Our grocery store has the most amazing fried chicken and it’s very affordable.
Just Cake and Snacks Ideas
- Have your cake and ice cream for a birthday party or other celebration.
- Snacks can be heavy snacks like appetizers or simple chips and dips. This is good for a short afternoon party.
- What is a main dish you enjoy making? Can you make it for a crowd? This is a great option for your party.
- Shredded chicken or beef. I like to make these in the crock pot and they can easily feed a crowd.
2. Themed Party Food
What is your party theme? Planning food around your theme can make planning your menu fun and it helps bring the theme to another aspect of the party.
Beach Party: Offer something seafood on the menu and serve a fun umbrella type of drink.
Mardi Gras Party: Serve jambalaya and king cake and of course a hurricane.
Not sure what type of food to use for your party? Just search google for ideas. I found so many awesome ideas for my 1980’s Cocktail Party just by searching popular food of the 1980s on Google.
3. Tried and True Recipes
What is your signature dish? What do you enjoy making?
It is crucial to make a dish you already know how to make. Making a dish your familiar with will help you feel more comfortable and less stressed out. You don’t want your guests to be your test subjects. (Unless of course that is the reason for the party – my girlfriends and I get together often to cook something new from Pinterest together.) There are too many possibilities for a new dish to go wrong and then you’re left with nothing to feed your guests.
4. Party Size=Amount of Party Food
How many people do you need to serve?
Are you having an intimate gathering for 4-6 friends or are you feeding a crowd? When selecting the menu you should also keep in mind the number of guests who will be attending.
If you’re having a party for 40 you wouldn’t want to serve steak to everyone. But if you’re hosting 40 guests you could grill up steak and chicken meat and have a taco bar. It’s easier to feed a large crowd with dishes that go a long way. Such as:
- Pasta dishes
- Taco bars
- Pulled or shredded meats
- Soups or Stews (I love this recipe for Taco Stew)
Plan out how much food you need to serve. The last thing you want is to not have enough food. Having extra is fine, you have leftovers or you can send home with the guests, but you never want to run out of food at a party. Click here to receive your free How Much Food to Serve chart.
5. Plan the Prep and Cooking Time
How much time do you have to prepare the food? Are you having a dinner party on a weeknight or hosting on a Saturday evening?
Try not to select a menu item that requires a lot of attention as the guests are arriving. Also you don’t want every dish to be time consuming to prepare and cook. You can buy side dishes or appetizers and desserts from the store. Keep it simple yet tasty. You do not need to make a 10 course gourmet meal.
6. Party Food Budget
What is your budget?
You can feed 4-6 people or a crowd with a specific budget, as long as you plan accordingly. Think about what your budget allows and plan some easy menu items that can feed your crowd and will keep to your budget.
Enjoy and Be Proud!
Planning your party food should not be a stressful experience. You want the guests to have an enjoyable evening and you should also be enjoying the party. If you are stressed out you will make your guests feel unwelcome. Don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself the day of the party. Plan early and leave yourself enough time to prep and cook the food. And be excited and proud of the meal you are serving. When you cook something you know is going to taste good, you will have greater confidence as a host.
Check out the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle for over 1,000 recipes you can use for your everyday dinners and for entertaining.
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