Stop at 3 dishes - you are welcome!

Just wanted to share what is probably our favorite dinner-party hosting idea. When planning your menu, limit yourself to 3 main dishes. Greatly simplifies every aspect of hosting - from planning, to buying, prepping, serving, and clean-up. May sound silly, but give it a try. And think of it when attending dinners others host.

Say you are cooking lasagna. Serve a salad, and garlic bread. No more.

Steak? Complement it with potatoes and veggies.

Or whatever combination works best for you and your guests. But you may be surprised at how much it simplifies things to just stop trying to accommodate every person’s possible preference. Making fewer dishes, it is easier to have each dish come out at the highest quality and at the same time. And it is easier to serve/pass a limited number of dishes. So long as there are 3 different dishes, and each is made well, everyone can find something they like and can fill up on.

I acknowledge, there may be exceptions for certain traditional “feasts” such as Thanksgiving. But you can even pare down on the options for Thanksgiving. If you are serving potatoes, stuffing, and some other veggie, why add corn and bread? Why serve mashed potatoes AND sweet potatoes AND 1 or more green veggies?

Simplify, enjoy, and evangelize! D

Because it’s Thanksgiving, dammit! 'Tis the season of excess, and if you tell Aunt Louise that she shouldn’t bring the sweet potatoes, but Aunt Sadie gets to bring the green beans you are just asking for decades of family strife and acrimony.

I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but here’s mine, and it’s only two dishes.

I go to Costco and buy 1) their Caesar salad and 2) their shrimp salad. I dump them together in a big bowl and toss. I’ve served this many times and it’s always a huge hit. A couple of my friends have stolen the idea.

The end.

But what about dessert?

I think of the main dish, as just that, The Main dish, star of the show. Everything else is second fiddle. Then there are walk-ons. At my table there is only one Star. Bring what you like, my Star will shine. Till dessert, anyway.

Well, Costco has pies as big as manhole covers… one of those would do nicely.

Dessert is ALWAYS appropriate. But even there - limit options. Was at a T-day dinner this year where they had (IIRC) SEVEN different types of pie! :eek:

I’m not talking about potlucks, where everyone brings a dish. Instead, I’m talking about limiting the total number of dishes the host tries to prepare and serve. So often you’ll encounter 2 types of meats, multiple veggies, bread, pasta AND potatoes. In my mind ,it can be tough to even find space on my plate to try a sample of each. And passing multiple dishes or a long buffet can be a hassle.

Now if your deal is enjoying to put out numerous dishes, go for it. But if you are someone who likes to look for opportunities to reduce the cost/effort of hosting, limiting to 3 dishes can be a big help.

We’ve done it for several years. So long as you choose 3 good, diverse, but complementary dishes, everyone is happy. My wife and I just find it so much easier to concentrate on only 3 dishes. Allows us to spend more time with our guests than in the kitchen, and reduces the chances of one of many dishes being over/undercooked, etc. And yeah - if you can reduce it even more to 2 or even 1 dish - more power to ya!

Yabbut tell the truth. You had one helping of each pie didn’tcha?


Yeah, what the OP has is one main dish and two sides. I thought they actually were asking for three main dishes, which I was going to say is overkill for a dinner party. Maybe two mains and three sides at the most.

Typically, I do two mains: one for meat eaters; one for not. And then I try to keep the sides vegetarian. If it needs to also be vegan, it’s a little rougher, but I can adjust.

I also try to keep stuff inexpensive and easy to hold in a warm oven. So, a typical meal at chez pulykamell for a dinner party might be: chicken paprikash, mushroom paprikash, spaetzle, cucumber salad. Very simple to make; cheap; easy to keep warm in the oven. But I would also do a soup course on top of that. That’s not enough food for a dinner party for me. And then something for dessert (even though I typically do not eat dessert.) And absolutely all of that can be made in advance. That’s what makes it easy.

But, yeah, if it’s a small gathering among omnivores, it’s usually something like: soup, main dish, starchy side (if appropriate), vegetable side, salad.

A sound idea I have often employed. Also cuts down on leftovers.

Dessert: cheese.

Let ‘em TRY to complain…then you can pierce them with an icy Parisian-style glare.

No - when faced w/ apple and pecan, I’ll double up on them over some of the alternatives (key lime, cherry…) May have totalled 7 pieces, tho! :smiley:

I endorse the OP. My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t know when to stop. She’ll add things all day long. We had three kinds of potatoes at our last family get-together. Plus green beans, salad, and brussel spouts. She usually has some many courses no one could possible eat more than a bite of each. It’s a complete waste of effort, but she won’t change. I just try to be helpful (and try to reduce the number of meals we host in a year)

I’d go further, and say that you should only have one dish that requires any significant effort. For instance, back when I was hosting annual Easter dinners, I always went all-out on the salad, because that salad is a family tradition and I wasn’t about to give it up just because I was a thousand miles away from the family. And then I made instant mashed potatoes, a pre-cooked ham, a super easy veggie casserole, and frozen store-bought pies. Yes, I can make homemade pies, and yes, they’re better than Marie Callender’s, but no, I’m not going to that effort at the same time that I’m making dandelion salad.

Oh, and I also always went out to eat the night before, because enough time in the kitchen is enough.