Kitchen Tips: Unexpected Company

Every kitchen should have an emergency kit.

No I don’t mean band aids and fire extinguisher.

I am talking about a true emergency.  Like when you have out of town company drop in an hour before meal time.  How do you prepare a meal for unexpected people.  It could just be your child has invited a group of teens home for a meal without telling you until you walk in the door.

Meal Time Emergencies

Teens are pretty easy to please. Toss a couple pizzas in the oven supply a few drinks and they are happy and call it a home cooked meal. But what do you do when it is your husbands favourite sister with her husband and 3 children in tow?

Try to pretty up some leftovers?
Order out and have the delivery guy come to the back door?
Don’t Panic

That is why an emergency kit is a life saver.  What should this kit contain and how long should it be allowed to sit before you change it for fresher items.  Here is my list and it is practically age less.

A package of some sort of pasta, spaghetti is a good choice or linguini. A can or jar of spaghetti sauce or if you have linguini an Alfredo  sauce in a can or jar.  Same idea as the spaghetti just a bit   fancier.  A container of Parmesan cheese that is sealed and already grated.  Fast and fool  proof.

With these ingredients and a few items you probably have on hand most of the time you can put a great meal on the table while enjoying the guests company.

Quick and Easy Side Dishes

The things to make it complete would be toasted bread. This is done under the broiler simply by buttering bread sprinkling it with the powdered cheese for about 5 min.  Make sure you set the timer so you don’t forget it is there.   You can use Italian bread, baguette, even hamburger buns in a pinch. While that’s cooking make a tossed salad with a couple different dressings for choice, add some croutons and that is a good starter for the meal.

That is the main course and side dishes taken care of so you can sort of relax.

Dessert can be just as easy.  I am not one to whip up a cake at the drop of a hat, so I tend to keep a package of nice cookies on hand. Add a dish of ice cream and the children will be content.  Adults should know to call ahead so they can make do with that or just cookies and coffee while relaxing after the children are in front of the TV or computer.

Easy Meal Plans

My grandmother during the war always had her emergency kit as well.  It didn’t need the entire meal as she was a farmers wife and had all the staples to make a feast. But she always had a canned ham set aside. She said that way she was prepared for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For breakfast she fried ham with eggs and home made bread hot out of the oven. For lunch she could slice it thin for sandwiches with homemade soup. For dinner she would serve it cold with scalloped potatoes home canned vegetables relish and pickles. Dessert was whipped cream on what ever type of fruit she opened from her canning shelves.

To add some cheaters to my grandmother’s canned ham you could have the ham and a couple boxes of those scalloped potatoes, a can of pork and beans some pickles and bread and butter.  Easy and quick to get on the table and they taste great as well. Again add a simple dessert some coffee and tea and your guests will never know how much you didn’t really need to see them today.

Those two ideas require no freezer space, but if you have the room in your freezer keep a package of boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces.  These can be fried quickly and add a curry sauce to it and simmer this while the rice is cooking and within 40 min. you sit down to a chicken curry on rice.  Pick a mild one for your emergency kit since you don’t know if people will like the spicier ones. Not everyone does.

Now I am sure we all know people with varied diets that they follow.  Vegan, Gluten Free, No carbs, all carbs. I think the list is endless so when someone drops in and says they can’t have this that or the other thing, what do you do?

If they are gluten free you can have an oil and vinegar salad dressing and maybe add some tuna fish to the salad. Or bake a potatoe in the microwave and top it with the spaghetti sauce.

If they are a no carb eater, again salad and tuna fish or crab meat would be an easy solution.  The same for vegetarians a salad can make an entire meal with some imagination. But  if you don’t feel comfortable with that you can put on a few choices of frozen or canned vegetables poached in some vegetable stock.  Remember these people dropped in unexpectedly so they should not expect a meal that meats with all their requirements. They are friends or family so they should be accepting and enjoy the meal you serve.

If they don’t maybe next time they will call ahead.


About Grandma

I am a grandma of 4 I write stories for children I love to talk about children and give tested advice.
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7 Responses to Kitchen Tips: Unexpected Company

  1. Carol Covin says:

    My husband found a meal when he was a Bachelor that is suitable for this kind of last-minute dinner, a variation on a Spanish omelette.

    Fry enough bacon for one or two slices per person.
    Take the bacon out of the skillet to drain.
    Fry chopped onions in the bacon grease.
    Pour half the grease out of the skillet.
    Add chopped potatoes, allowing one medium-sized potato per serving.
    When the potatoes are browned, add gently stirred eggs, with 1-2 eggs per serving.

    Lift the sides of the omelette gently as it cooks, to be sure there is not a runny middle. After about 10 minutes, flip it onto a plate, then slide back into the skillet to finish cooking.

    Put on a serving plate before it is cooked all the way through, as it will continue to cook on the plate. Top with bacon.

    It’s a perennial favorite in our household. If you have the ingredients, serve salad and toast on the side.

    • Grandma says:

      That sounds really good. Yes it would be great for company dinner in a hurry or a late night dinner in front of the TV.
      It is good to have meals that suit all sorts of time and atmosphere.
      Eggs are a great starting point for many different meal ideas.
      crust less quiches, frittatas, and even just scrambled eggs and toast.
      If you have any others to share feel free to do so, here.

      • carolcovin says:

        His other one-pot meal as a bachelor was to boil a chicken in water, take it out of the broth and take all the bones and gristle out. Then, put it back in the broth, with a cup of rice and a can of tomatoes and cook it until the rice was done. Add salt to taste. Hearty, filling, healthy, cheap.

  2. carolcovin says:

    We also had a favorite when we were newly-weds, but don’t know how many others would like it. We always kept cans of corned beef hash and cans of spinach on hand. Then, a very cheap, fast meal was spreading the cornedbeef hash out in a skillet and cooking it until it was crisp on the bottom, then making a well for each egg, putting a top over the skillet until the eggs were cooked, while the spinach heated in a separate pan. Cheap, healthy, fast, everything always on hand.

  3. This is a great idea. And you know, when you add a dish of pickles, olives, and carrot/celery sticks, it makes the whole thing seemed planned, IMO.

    • grandma says:

      When I am shopping I always take a look at the relish and condiment sections. You can find small jars of different types of relishes and mustards. These are great for fancying up any meal from hot dogs to roasts. Being small if nobody likes them it doesn’t sit in the fridge until they become science experiments. But usually they add a special touch to a quick fix meal.
      I like mint sauce with fish and chicken and zucchini relish is good with hot dogs or meat loaf.
      Pickles and relish plates with a small individual bowl of a salad dressing makes the table look nice and helps fill the empty places.
      To keep celery fresher longer wash it and wrap it in tin foil. Not sure why this works but mine lasts about 3 weeks longer when I do this.
      I buy the already peeled carrots and they are quick easy and tasty for an add on to any meal.
      thanks for reading

  4. I haven’t heard of wrapping celery in foil. I’ll have to try that. Thanks for the tip!

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