Entertaining Trick No 1 | Make Ahead

We're starting a new little series on entertaining tricks and tips and hopefully we'll have some ideas to share that make entertaining seem more doable.  The first one is so extremely obvious that it's not exactly post worthy, but I feel like it wouldn't be a proper series without including the most important trick in the book - Make Food Ahead of Time, seriously, make just about everything ahead of time and you'll thank yourself while entertaining.  My mom's done this for years and now it's now second nature....

My mom's one of six kids and her mom cooked full meat and three veggie meals every night of the week.  Her mother stayed home and when she wasn't in the kitchen, she spent most of her time on the golf course.  BUT when it came to the half hour before dinner, you would not find her in the kitchen.  You more often would find her enjoying a cocktail with my grandfather welcoming him home from work.  She pretty much made meals ahead of time for 8 people every single night of the week, and my mom learned from this. 

My mom takes the whole prep and make ahead to a whole new level, making entertaining look really easy.  Take Thanksgiving for example, Heath and I arrive home with our suitcases full and mom pretty much has all of the "work" done for not just Thanksgiving dinner, but just about every other meal that weekend.  We always make turkey soup the day after Thanksgiving with leftovers.  Well, that means my mom's already chopped and prepped all of the other veggies that will be tossed in the soup pot with the leftover turkey.  Jenny from Dinner A Love Story even says she goes ahead and fills a pot of water and just puts it on the stove if she knows she's going to need to boil water at any point to make dinner.  Any little thing that can be done ahead of time will make your life easier, and will make you less stressed with you have guests.

So, if you haven't already jumped on the "make everything ahead of time" bandwagon when entertaining, do it!  My favorite make ahead options are GoTo Pulled Pork (for bbq or tacos), Jenny's Braised Pork Ragu, Ina's Chicken Tortilla soup with all the delicious toppings, and Heath's favorite is a classic pot roast during cooler months.  Also, BEST news ever, my all time favorite Ina Garten's next cookbook is exclusively make ahead meals - Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook coming in October!  What are your favorite make ahead dinners to serve?  I like to have a list going with ideas.

~Mary Keller

Image via Nothing Short of Thankful


  1. Oooh. I am excited about this series!!!