Planning large family meals

This week I’ve been discussing starters with one of my friends who was planning a large family meal.  We were debating the various possibilities for the starters given the time of year and the meal he was planning to do.

We arrived at two conclusions.

Firstly, starters on the menu’s we could see on-line had a tendancy to offer 3 options.  Those could be classified in three ways…..

  • Soup
  • Fish
  • Something Else
    • Meat
    • Vegetarian

Secondly he didn’t have the time available to shop for any of the ideas we came up with due to work commitments.

We discussed various soups using the wide variety of winter vegetables available.  We then looked at fish in the form of peppered smoked mackerel, salmon, pilchards, sardines and scallops.  We also considered things like stuffed peppers or butternut squash.

Reflecting on what was discussed I can recommend the following if you’re going to do a large family meal…..

  • Plan ahead
    • create a meal plan
    • build a list of ingredients
    • where to go shopping
  • Make sure you are aware of allergies or individual likes/dislikes
    • this will affect what you can or can’t serve
  • Make sure you’ve time to do any shopping, if you haven’t then consider deliveries but ensure enough time is available for those in case of difficulties
  • Cook as much as you can in advance and re-heat or serve chilled
  • Prepare as much as you can in advance
    • this will save time on the day and ensure you have more time to spend with the family
  • If you’re going to try something new, test it in advance
  • Map out your time
    • decide what time you’re serving and work backwards
    • write down a timetable for the day with preparation & cooking times
    • stick to it as much as possible
    • don’t get distracted
  • Make free time for yourself
    • as much time as possible so you can enjoy your time with the family
    • there’s nothing worse than spending it all in the kitchen by yourself
  • Don’t panic if something goes wrong
    • be prepared to think on your feet
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