Having guests into our home is a habit. We purpose to have someone from church over weekly. It is a way we can connect with other believers and learn to be a part of their lives.
We also have family visit on a fairly regular basis.
There once was a time I found having company stressful. Now, I don’t think about it. In fact, I absolutely LOVE ministering to others through hospitality.
There are two aspects of having visitors that can be daunting. The first concern is always food. The second aspect of hospitality has to do with the space of the home and its cleanliness. This article discusses my favorite meals to serve guests.
To me, food is a ministry of the gospel. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:31-33. Food allows me a reason to connect with people. Every home has its own food culture. When we share that part of our home with others, it is including them into our family and lives. I have seen walls come down, people relax, and had amazing conversations about God, all around the venue of food.
I have a few go-to meals when we have guests. I don’t stick to these meals, but they are generally one of the first meals a guest will have in our home.
My favorite meal to bless my family and guests with is Tacos. (It works out well, because Fridays are often our Mexican meal and it is a good night for most people to get away from home for dinner. Weekly Menu Guide)
1) Most of the meal can be prepped ahead of time-shredded cheese, diced onions, chopped cilantro, salsa, avocados, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and corn chips.
2) Tacos are cheap and can easily serve a crowd on a dime.
3) Tacos are generally well liked by most folks.
4) Tacos work well for those who have dietary restrictions. Corn tortillas and corn chips can replace wheat tortillas for a gluten/wheat free diet. Re-fried beans and cheese can replace meat for vegetarians. If guests make their own, they can leave out foods they don’t like without worrying about causing offence.
5) Since all I have to do is cook up meat before serving tacos, it frees me up from the kitchen to visit with my guests.
6) Tacos pair perfectly with a chocolate dessert. If that isn’t reason enough, I don’t know what is.
7) Tacos are impossible to mess up. Unless I over season or burn the meat, there is nothing else to ruin. So it is a stress free meal on my part.
Grilled or Roasted Chicken is my second choice to serve guests.
1) I cook chicken weekly, so it is an easy meal.
2) Like tacos, chicken is cheap and roasting one to two chickens won’t break my budget.
3) Roasting or grilling a chicken is easy, but takes a little prep time if I choose to marinate 24 hours first.
4) Both grilled and roasted chicken are best if rested 20-30 minutes before serving, so I can have them all cooked up, covered, and on the table when guests arrive.
5) Sides for chicken are endless. I usually pick a starch, fruit, cooked vegetable, and salad. My favorite sides are Jasmine rice (with salt and butter of course), pineapple, kiwi, mango salad (best cut the day before so juices can sweeten), spinach and lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and steamed broccoli. I can have the rice set to go and start to steam it 10 minutes before my guests arrival time. The broccoli takes seconds to steam, so if it is prepped and in the pot, I can start it a few minutes after greeting guests.
My third favorite meal to serve guests is a roast and potatoes.
1) Meat and potatoes are simple. Everything including vegetables can go in a pot. I can add a side of home-made sourdough bread and butter and that is it. No last-minute business in the kitchen.
2) The downside with a beef roast is the price. I have to plan it into our grocery budget because it is not an item I usually buy.
3) Pork roasts on the other hand are cheap. I can get them on sale for .99#.
4) A pork roast can be served like a beef roast with potatoes and carrots, or shredded and served on hamburger buns with barbecue sauce. A pork roast is an excellent choice if I am serving dinner for a crowd.
Unless I am having company, I do not make dessert, so I usually pick something our family enjoys….CHOCOLATE. Easy to prep ahead and serve are warm chocolate chip cookies. I like to make the dough and pop them in the oven to bake while we eat dinner. Nothing is as amazing as a gooey, warm chocolate chip cookie. But, I also enjoy serving flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream. Cheesecake is another favorite, because I can make it low sugar and gluten-free, but cheesecake takes an afternoon to bake, so it is not a quick dessert. This summer, I have made a lot of vanilla coconut sugar ice-cream with mom’s hot fudge or baked fruit with nuts. Ice cream is a gluten-free dessert, and if made with coconut sugar, it is easy on the blood sugar. Plus, ice cream is easy to prep ahead.
Overall my goals concerning planning a meal for visitors revolve around a few basic principles.
1. Is that it must be food my guests can eat. I ALWAYS ask about allergies and special diets-ALWAYS. And I do my best to cater to those restrictions.
2. I also want a meal that doesn’t require a lot of attention in kitchen before dinner. That allows me time to spend with our guests, so easy is a requirement.
3. I don’t want a tedious meal. So whatever I pick must be something I am comfortable cooking. I don’t try out new recipes on guests. I don’t need the stress of wondering if something will be okay. If I am changing or using a new recipe, I make it a day or two ahead to make sure it is good.
4. Since we have a steady stream of guests in our home, it is imperative that my meals be inexpensive, or I won’t be able to buy milk for my children by the end of the month. So, I stick to our food budget.
5. DELICIOUS is very important. I choose quality, fresh ingredients for our family and guests. I make cookies fresh from the oven, not the day before. I don’t use leftover food-everything is made the day before or the day of. For instance, if pineapple is cut the 24 hours before a meal, the sugars sweeten it into a luscious sweetness, that I would never get if I chopped it up just before serving. Ice-cream needs a day to harden in the freezer, so I make that a day ahead. However, bread…I make it as close to dinner as possible. There is nothing like the sound of crackle when I cut into it. So…Fresh-quality ingredients are essential to a delicious meal.
Overall, my goal is to put my guests first. It is not about the dinner, it is about them. I don’t want to be madly rushing about in the kitchen when my dear friends arrive. I want to be the one opening the door to greet them, with joy. I am giving our guests more than a meal, I am giving them the grace and love of Christ and using our home as the tool to share Christ with them.