1. Decide on the menu
This is often the hardest part, so we recommend starting this process a week or so out. Planning (or stressing over) the menu only a day or two before doesn’t leave you much time to shop, prep and of course figure out what you’ll be wearing.
Allergies, intolerance and dislikes – they are pretty common, so it’s important to ask your guests before you start planning your menu. If there is just one or two, you may find it easy to just work the menu around them. However, if you have a handful of requirements, then we find a build-your-own style menu works best. This style of catering allows your guests to work around what they can and can’t have. Think a Mexican-inspired spread – like build your own tacos, offering a few protein options and a variety of toppings.
What’s in season:
Picking your recipes around what’s in season, not only ensures that the produce will be available but also means your menu won’t blow the budget. Oh, and of course, it will also taste better too!
Once you know the dietary requirements and what’s in season you can start to plan the menu.
- First, pick a crowd-pleasing dish or a choice of meat as the main event.
- Then, pick 2-3 sides to accompany this dish. A rough guide would be to pick one starchy or carb-based side like a grain-based salad or even some fresh bread and butter, a cooked veggie side like baby carrots on a cashew cream sauce and then one light leafy green salad.
2. Meal Prep
No one wants to be slaving away in the kitchen when you have guests over – an easy way to avoid this is to prep in advance so you can sit back and enjoy your company! Once the menu is decided on, make a list of everything that can be prepped, breaking the list into three categories.
A day before
Prepare spice mixes, dressings, marinades and sauces.
The day of
Cut or pre-roasting veggies, or even prepare the entire dish ready to pop into the oven.
This is a list of what to do when the guests arrive. Including approximate timings of when to pop things into the oven, as well as what’s needed for the finishing touches on your dishes.
3. Don’t do everything all by yourself
People like to help, whether that means asking if they don’t mind picking up some fresh fruit to accompany dessert or helping you whip up a green salad.
4. A relaxed host = relaxed guests
Don’t worry about serving up your guests, we love to place our food scattered down the centre of the table – guests can serve themselves and pass platters around, we actually find this helps to create a relaxed environment and of course less stressful for you, sit back relax and enjoy the meal, you deserve it!
Dinner menu idea
One of our go-to dinner party meals is our Eggplant Involtini – it’s vegetarian-friendly and can be prepared entirely ahead of time, all you need to do is pop it in the oven when your guests arrive. We like serving it alongside a few Italian-inspired side dishes and some crusty bread and butter for the table.