When you are your own boss, client development is at the heart of profitability. And the best form of new leads is referrals. People who know and like you are most likely to recommend you to others.
A great way to connect with people who know and like you is to entertain casually at your home. You don’t have to sell to them, cook fancy food or spend a lot of money. Causal get togethers are enjoyable times to catch up and reconnect.
We love hosting friends to watch afternoon football games in the fall and backyard bar-be-ques in the spring. I’ve perfected a handful of recipes and no one seems to mind that we serve the same items each time. By perfecting a couple recipes that feed large groups we can even host impromptu gatherings.
What Food to Serve when You Entertain Casually at Home
Whether you serve a meal, appetizers or snacks it’s helpful to have repeatable go to options. If your go-to is a nice cheese and crackers plate, stick with 5-6 cheeses that you rotate so you can be in and out of the store quickly. Less time grocery shopping leaves more time for hiding the clutter at home.
At my home we usually serve a meal. And that meal that is full of splurge foods. But it is good!
And even with today’s cleaner eating preferences our guests never fail to thank us for an opportunity to indulge in the type of meal they don’t cook at home anymore. If the goal is to be memorable I think we hit it out of the park!
It’s important to serve food your guest will appreciate and not avoid. But do try to include at least one something that they might not cook for them self at home. Be memorable in a good way!
Main Dish Ideas
One of the easiest items to cook for a crowd is a pork butt. If you’ve never made one they are inexpensive big pieces of pork with or without the bone. And they are VERY simple to cook. We don’t get fancy with the seasoning just salt, pepper and garlic powder. The meat gets wrapped tight in a foil cooking dish and cooked low and slow the oven for a couple hours.
Another regular in our house is ribs. Sometimes we bake them in the oven and sometimes we grill them. This relatively inexpensive meat is another easy crowd pleaser that doesn’t take too much fussing.
If pork isn’t your or your guests’ thing roasting a couple of chickens in the oven or a big crockpot of chili (beef, chicken or vegetarian) are simple and budget-friendly alternatives.
Chili two ways – one on the stove and one in the crock pot – with a big pot of rice and lots of topping options is the regular meal a friend of mine serves when she entertains. No one is ever disappointed by her chili two ways reoccurring meal.
Side Dish Ideas
I have two go-to side dishes and have recently added a third, a vinegary coleslaw. When we entertain we put calorie counting to the side and almost always serve hashbrown casserole and traditional collard greens simmered all afternoon.
I do try to serve a green salad and offer fruit to balance the heaviness of the rest of the meal.
If you don’t mind a little fussing we LOVE this one-pot Chicken-and-Collards Pilau recipe from Southern Living. It’s a little bit of prep work but once it’s cooking you can walk away from it.
An easy side dish idea that also makes a great main dish or kids meal is easy meat sauce baked shells. We usually have most, if not all, of the ingredients in the pantry.
All you need to do is cook a pound to a pound and half of ground beef or turkey with an onion, garlic and a good amount of Italian seasoning. Drain then simmer with a couple small cans of basil, onion and garlic tomato sauce and a cans or 2 of the same flavor diced tomatoes. Mix with cooked small pasta shells and bake with a layer of mozzarella on top until it is bubbling. If you want to take it up a notch add ricotta to the meat sauce.
It wouldn’t be right to leave out dessert! Again, I have two go to options, Peanut Butter Pie and break and bake cholate chip cookies.
I’ve been making the Pioneer Woman’s Peanut Butter Pie for YEARS and have two secrets. First, I use reduced fat cream cheese AND reduced fat peanut butter. Second, I don’t like peanut butter pie! Our guests expect it to be served and are disappointed when I don’t make it. So I make it! Who wants disappointed guests?
Entertaining casually and hosting friends for gatherings at your home is a great way to connect with people who you may not have seen in awhile. People who know and like you are your biggest fan club and best source of client leads. There is just something about catching up over a casual meal in someone’s home that deepens relationships.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on food to feed your guests. Having a few go-to menu items will give you confidence that the food will taste good and will also save you time preparing.
My go-to menu items tend toward richer splurge foods. Our guest leave happy with memories of great food and great company at our home.
Do you have go-to meals when you entertain and host gatherings at your home? I’d love to learn a few more!