Breakfast meals and brunches are usually some of the hardest to put together when hosting a group, be it family or guests; especially for the inexperienced cook, since most or all the dishes on the menu need to be ready at the same time.Â
My solution is to make several lists!Â
First decide how many people you feel comfortable inviting at one time.Â Make a list.Â
Can you sit everyone at table or should you serve buffet style?Â Do you have tablecloths, napkins, enough matching dishes, flatware and glassware or will you be using disposable serving ware? (*) Make a list of the items you will need for the type menu planned.Â
Make your guest lists and send the invitations at lease 3 to 4 weeks ahead.Â Remember your guests might have very busy lives and need to plan ahead of time.Â Be sure to specify a day at least a week ahead of the brunch for the RSVP deadline. Â It will make it easier on you to know that far ahead how many to expect.
Plan the menu around a few simple ideas or be as elaborate as you feel capable; just make sure you are comfortable with the plan.Â After deciding on menu, make three lists; one for the menu broken down into recipes for each dish; one for the grocery staples that can be bought ahead and one for the fresh items you need only a day or two before.
To make the process easier, take each recipe apart, item by item and place the items on the appropriate list â€“ Staples or Last Minute.
Make lists on what can or should be done when and post them on a planning board either in the kitchen or your â€˜office spaceâ€™, along with a good calendar with large squares so that you can put on each date what can be done that day.Â
By looking at the menu list and the grocery lists you can decide what staples can be bought even a week or two before the brunch.Â Buy them and store with notes of â€œdo not touchâ€™ if you have family members who make use of your pantry stock.
A few days before the brunch, look at your menu again and take each recipe apart, step by step, and see what can be done (prep or cooked) a day or even two ahead.Â Â Â
Peel and chop veggies and store them in individual plastic baggies until needed. Things like bacon can be fried a day or two ahead, wrapped and stored in fridge.Â Hard-boiled eggs can be done and even peeled a day or two ahead.Â Poached eggs can be done a day ahead and stored in bowls of water in the fridge, then taken out and placed in warm water an hour or two before they are needed.Â
The day before the brunch start setting your table(s); pull out and wash all the dishes, flatware, glasses and serving ware you will need.Â Start placing them where you need them.Â
Buy or make your table arrangements.Â Be creative.Â Donâ€™t fall back on the usual, but look for items around the house that will fit the theme and use them to liven up your table.
By doing as much as possible during the weeks, days and hours before your guests are scheduled to arrive; you will have accomplished most of the work and will be less harried and also less apt to make last minute mistakesâ€¦.and if you make mistakes, they happen even to the most seasoned cooks, so go with the flow and donâ€™t worry about it.Â Probably only you will know that you made them.Â
My last advice is this; donâ€™t sweat the small stuff.Â Enjoy your party!Â
Serving ware list
(*) If you opt for disposable, there are companies that sell compostable serving ware, from dishes to napkins to flatware. Some of them in pretty designs!Â Â Â
In todayâ€™s lifestyles so full of clutter and trash, try to be a bit green and do your part.Â If you donâ€™t compost, find a friend or neighbor that does and would be happy to take the compostable serving ware from you.Â
Here are some links you might enjoy visiting:
Here is an old post, but very appropriate for this season:
Richard also has some interesting recipes and an article to share with you: