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Having Company: Meal Planning Tips

Updated on November 19, 2012

Meal Planning Tips

We are having company in just less than two weeks. Both of us are looking forward to the visit and the opportunity to show our guest where we live. It is also an opportunity for me to show off my cooking skills.

Planning meals for a visit is quite different than planning for an evening dinner party or a brunch. Both of those activities require thoughtful consideration and the proper presentation. The difference rests in the length of stay. A dinner party may last 3 hours or so and a brunch anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours but a house guest will be around for much longer than that, so you need to plan for all three main meals and snacks as well.

One thing that they all have in common is to know your guests’ food preferences. For example, do they have any allergies? This is vital and I do mean vital, food allergies can be fatal. So ask them if you do not know. It is not possible to serve your guest a meal that is allergy safe unless you know what allergies, if any, your guests have.

They will not be offended and should, in fact, be appreciative of the fact, that you care enough to ask. Your main goal, after all, is making them comfortable and providing a stress free and enjoyable experience.

The second thing you need to know is, are they vegetarian or vegan. If they do not eat meat you cannot simply serve them the side dishes while everyone else digs into the lobster or roast beef. I was a vegetarian for many years and still enjoy meatless meals. I have been invited to dinner and politely informed the hosts that I was a vegetarian. Some have asked what foods I eat and I told them and even offered recipes. Others said nothing.

On more than one occasion, what I got was an extra potato and more vegetables. This is simply rude.

Be courteous and ask.

Back to the long term guest. Well, first of course, is food allergies and food preferences. Find out and plan your menus accordingly.

Be sure to include snacks and treats, this means beverages as well, by that I mean, tea, coffee, soft drinks, and juices. We do not drink pop and I see no reason to provide that for a guest. But if they prefer apple juice to orange juice in the morning than that I will provide. The same with tea or coffee. Some people drink tea in the morning. If your guest does, having their favourite tea on hand will go a long way to making them feel at home.

If a guest wants to help with meal preparation, I can always use another pair of hands in the kitchen, not just for washing up after but for slicing, dicing and so on.

When I visit others I like to go grocery shopping with them, if the stay is longer than 36 hours. That way, I can pick up and pay for any special items I may want. This is usually best discussed before going shopping. When it comes to money, people can be strange.

I like to shop for food and have no problem going with others. Their knowledge may lead me to a new food adventure.

I also always offer to prepare, at least one meal and if the hosts says yes, I offer several choices. Including people in the process always makes for a better result.

When guests visit, if they want to make a meal, let’s say they have specialty, that they want to introduce you to, as long as it does not violate my food requirements, I have type two diabetes, I say have a blast and offer my assistance.

Sharing food with others, from the shopping to the chopping to the washing up, can add zest to any visit. But serving your guests food that they enjoy and can eat will go a long way to developing lasting and harmonious relationships.


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  • cgull8m profile image

    cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

    I agree with Melanie, very useful tips, sometimes we take visitors for granted and except them to like whatever we like.

  • Mel-Mel profile image

    Mel-Mel 10 years ago from United States

    These are totally great and help tips to remember. I really enjoyed this hub for sure.