ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Potluck Dishes for Dummies: What to bring to Pass

Updated on July 9, 2013

What to bring to a potluck when you can't cook!

Potluck. The mere word conjures up lots of images in my head--more hot dishes (casseroles if you are not from Minnesota) than I can count. Growing up the daughter of a minister, I probably attended more potlucks than your average person. I was a child, however, and my mom had to worry about what to bring and share. I just got the pleasure of eating and sampling the vast array of homemade specialties and treats.

Unfortunately, I had to grow up...and I can't count on my mom to make my contributions to a potluck dinner. And even more unfortunate, I never really developed any culinary expertise. But should that stop me from showing up at any potluck I can find? Heck no! If you are wondering what to bring to a potluck when you are a non-cook (maybe by choice or maybe for the safety of others) here are a few really simple ideas.

Beverages

The least glamorous item, but an absolute necessity at a good potluck--the beverages. If you bring in several 2-liters of soda and lemonade, you will definitely be fulfilling a need. If you bring the plastic solo cups--even better. You can also bring jugs of Gatorade, ice tea, or even ice water. Speaking of ice, bring a couple bags of ice also. People tend to forget that little item and it will be greatly appreciated, especially if you are having an outdoor potluck in the park.

Easy potluck dishes

Another easy item for the non-cook is the veggie tray. You can buy a veggie tray at any grocery store, or chop up your own, if it makes you feel more useful. Just don't forget the dip! While it is the healthiest choice at the potluck, the dip keeps people from whispering derogatory things behind your back like "healthnut".

Fruit trays or a fruit bowl is another easy item to pass. You can buy the platters with fruit already chopped up into handy bite size morsels, or you can be a little more creative and make your own fruit salad. If they allow you to play with knives (its questionable in my household), then you can buy a watermelon, cut it in half and dig one half out, making it the "bowl". Then you can fill it with melon balls, strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, etc. It's not only attractive, but a fairly healthy treat in comparison to the rest of the "goodies" that will surround them. It makes people feel better about themselves if they eat a few spoonfuls of fruit before diving into the plate of brownies.

Speaking of brownies...the desserts are usually plentiful at a potluck. Everyone seems to have their own special treats and traditions. But honestly, if you buy a box of cookies from the bakery--people will wolf them down just as quickly as "Aunt Martha's secret recipe". You can even remove them from the box and put them into your own tupperware, if you don't want to admit to them being store bought. Or, you can "make" your own brownies, if you have the skills. Side note: I count boxes of Betty Crocker brownies as homemade. If I have to add an egg and oil--plus bake it in the oven, than that counts as making it from scratch in my mind.

Dishes that require nominal preparation

Some of us know that our culinary skills are limited, but that doesn't mean we want anyone else to know. For those of you who want to bring something "homemade" to share with others, here are a few easy suggestions.

1) Meatballs or Cocktail Wieners: Both require almost no preparation or talent, but they taste and smell great! Buy the frozen bags of meatballs or cocktail wieners, drop them into a crock pot and add some "sauce". Let them simmer 2-3 hours. You can leave a box of toothpicks on the side, and people can "stab" their own.

2) Deviled Eggs: This is my personal favorite. All you need is a carton of eggs, mayo and mustard (and some paprika for garnish is optional). It doesn't get much easier. The hardest part is peeling the eggs after you are done hard-boiling them. Then you just slice them lengthwise and scoop out the yolk into a bowl. Add some mayo (1/3 of cup) and mustard (I use the horseradish mustard for some extra zing) and then just dump in whatever spices you might have on hand (this last time it was garlic salt and pepper). Stir it all up and then spoon it back into the hole where the yolk was! Easy and yet people will rave about these eggs and for just a few minutes--you actually start to believe that you have a special skill!

3) Pasta Salads: Pasta salads are a simple solution for someone that doesn't spend a lot of time in a kitchen. I like to buy Suddenly Salads, or other packaged salads. I'll chop up a cooked chicken breast or imitation crab sticks, to make it a little more substantial. If you don't have a package, you can make your own from "scratch". All you need to do is cook your noodles, toss with Italian Dressing and refrigerate. Then add chopped tomatoes, olives or peppers. Sprinkle some graded Parmesan on top right before serving. Delicious! And all you had to do was boil water...

Deviled Eggs

Enjoy your potluck

Whatever you decide to bring, know that the company and fellowship is more important than the food itself. People don't care if you bring a bucket of chicken from the deli (actually they probably would really enjoy it), bring a bag of chips, or make your own 7-layer lasagna from scratch. Everyone contributes to make the "potluck" a unique meal each and every time. And personally, I enjoy getting to taste everyone's "specialty"--even if your "secret recipe" tastes suspiciously like KFC original blend.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 4 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

      Though I can cook, I usually don't go all out for potlucks. I'm usually the pop or chips girl. Somebody's got to bring them, right?

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Definitely. You can't have a party without pop and chips! And brownies...Now I'm hungry. I wonder if there is a potluck around here that I can crash...

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm going to enjoy following you; I loved this hub. You have a sneaky sense of humor that one doesn't notice at first and then it's like "oh, wait, that was funny and she meant it to be. " LOL Yep, I'm going to enjoy you.

      If I can be of any help, drop me a note and I'll answer any question or do whatever I can....people helped me early on, and I like to help good writers and good people.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you Bill, coming from such an amazing writer such as yourself, I really really appreciate your kind words. I'm afraid some people think that I'm serious....

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this enjoyable share. With all the Chinese restaurants around me, guess what I'm bringing.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Mhatter99! Yeah, people love my "homemade" Egg rolls too! Especially when I make my special duck sauce and put it into those convenient little packets for them to use....got have the sauce!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Great tips you have here. Love potluck and I always take care of the drinks or dessert (Betty crocker). Lol!

      I love cooking but I suck in doing so (another lol)! I try, though very hard.

      This is an enjoyable hub. Voted up and across and will share.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I love to go to Pot Lucks and taste other people's foods. You have some good ideas here. When you have time, check out my Hub on making deviled eggs look like baby chicks.

      I voted this UP, etc. and will share.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is great, we all start here don't we? Great ideas.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Mary! You are so creative...I definitely will check out those baby chick deviled eggs. Will I feel bad eating them?! Just kidding. Thanks again for your kind comments.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for commenting Jackie. I appreciate the feedback!

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 4 years ago

      I came across your hub when Mary615 shared it. I loved this hub and I enjoyed the humor you incorporated alongside the practical tips.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for your comment Giselle. I'm not a serious cook, so I have to incorporate a few laughs when I can! I appreciate your feedback.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I have made pasta salads for potlucks in the past and find them a good option. They don't need heating and most people like them :)

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I agree, the pasta salads are a good choice. I usually have the Suddenly Salads on hand...so if you use those as your base, you can add a little crab meat or add some olives or veggies. Thanks for commenting!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      There's always the standard bucket of chicken from KFC. But I typically bring beverages. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I'll confess, I always go straight for the KFC chicken at a pot luck! Thanks for commenting, alocsin.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Having a potluck parties with friends is a good idea of bonding together. I usually bring something that I made myself for desserts. Thanks for sharing this good ideas. Voted up and useful.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thelma, you are exactly the kind of person that I like to invite to a potluck! Yum, homemade desserts are the best...Thanks for your nice comments.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I love potluck dinners not matter where they are. I don't think people make punch like they use to but I like making up a punch and taking it in a big jug with a spout. Enjoyed your hub. Voted uP!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks moonlake! We used to have punch served at a lot of my church potlucks (and at other parties). It was made from fruit juice and 7-up, I believe...I love that stuff. Thanks again for your nice comment.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      great hub! Perfect ideas and fun to read. It's funny when I first started to read, what came to my mind was buy a veggie tray. that is my all time "go to" pot luck contribution. I see you already know that, though!

      Thank you for this! Up++

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      brbell, everyone needs the veggies and dip! It makes you feel better about yourself when you work your way over to the dessert table...Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm the veggie tray dummy! I like to cut, slice, dice and create a yummilicious presentation. I normally just buy a premade dip. I also insist that I better not catch anyone double-dipping! (Seinfeld episode!) ;)

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Yes! No double-dipping allowed! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ..well as a bachelor I would exactly say that I am a dummy but I know my way around the kitchen and cooking pretty good .... but one must always keep an open mind because practice makes perfect, as they say, and an informative hub like yours makes someone like me look good - lol - with new ideas and a new approach so thank you for taking the time to put this all together for people like me - and I am sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 1:00pm and a day where the lake looks like an ocean with high winds and whitecaps

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for commenting Epi. Yes, if you can cook--than you could definitely run circles around me at a pot luck! Stay safe and warm and dry!

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 4 years ago from Alabama

      Voted up, up and away. Awesome hub and great ideas.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you so much lesliebyars. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Thank you so much that I do not have to feel guilty any more about buying rather than "making" And stretching what goes for "home made!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Hendrika, that is just being creative! No guilt in that! Thanks for commenting.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      I like eating devilled eggs but I find them too labor-intensive to make for a potluck. I'm a bit of a snob-- or else I'm just too cheap to buy a potluck dish-- and always pride myself on making whatever I take. Since I'm a vegetarian I often have black beans or chickpeas around. I'll add some rice and throw in a condiment, and voila. By the way, I laughed at your comment about Betty Crocker being homemade. My husband, when he was single, like you, would throw together brownies or cake from a mix and called it "homemade." And why not? Enjoyed this, thanks.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for commenting Louisa. Well, the cake or brownie mix was probably made in your home...so that makes it homemade! :)

      I love it when people like you (people that can actually cook) show up to a potluck! You put the "luck" in "potluck"! Thanks again for your feedback.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      I had to vote Awesome :-)

      Great hub, I enjoyed it! And Deviled Eggs will never fail you!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you very much Monis Mas, I appreciate your positive feedback!

    • Audrey Dawn profile image

      Audrey Dawn 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thank you mpropp for the wonderful tips. I am very culinarily challenged. Most of my life the only people I had to cook for were Me, Myself, and I. Frankly I was just too lazy to go through the trouble of becoming a proficient cook just to feed myself. These last couple years I've caring for my mother too, but since she's on a very limited prescription diet, there again I don't get much source of inspiration for actual COOKING. Of course, that's if I had the time to cook to begin with. Doctor's visits, etc. eat up a lot of time, so if I try to squeeze in some social even, it's usually with a shoehorn.

      I LOVE the fruit idea in that it sounds like it doesn't take hours to make and I don't have to worry about poisoning anyone. ;-) I also had no idea deviled eggs could be so easy, so I might actually give that a try to perhaps fool people into believing that I actually have some clue as to what I'm doing in the kitchen! Ha ha. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for the compliments Audrey Dawn! You can't go wrong with a fruit or veggie tray...but I think you should go for the deviled eggs. Like I said, my own skills are extremely limited, but I still always get compliments for those.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      These are great suggestions on what to bring to a potluck. Even someone who is a gourmet chef gets too busy and needs to take some shortcuts now and then. Voted up.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you Millionaire Tips! Good point...even if the gourmet chef isn't too busy, they might just be sick of cooking for everyone else! Thanks for your nice comment, I appreciate that.

    Click to Rate This Article