If you go to church, have kids in sports, or basically live in America, you will be invited to a potluck meal at some point. Potlucks are easy for the hostess, easy for guests, and you know there’ll be at least one thing you like to eat – whatever you bring! However, when choosing what to take to a potluck, there are definitely things that work better than others. Whatever you choose needs to feed several people, maintain its flavor/texture/temperature sitting out for a good bit of time, and still be safe to eat after sitting out for a while.
When it comes to deciding how much of something to make, don’t try to have a serving for every guest expected. Instead, plan your dish to feed about half the people there. First, not everyone will try your dish, and secondly, there should be plenty of offerings for the partiers to fill up on. Dishes like pasta bakes, salads, or soups and stews are classics for a potluck.
In the summer, I like to take our Saigon Slaw to potlucks. It’s the perfect crunchy side for almost any entrée! The fact that it is served cold makes it easy to pop out of the fridge and right on to the buffet table. As it warms to room temperature, it’s still quite good. If you wanted to keep it cold, a bowl of ice underneath or some of the portable containers come with cold packs that work nicely.
Even in cooler months, I often turn to a salad or other chilled side as my potluck offering. Again, the convenience and being able to keep it tasty and safe are always my considerations, but for some reason, I tend to take something a little more substantial like our chilled Orzo and Asparagus salad when the weather is fall or winter-like.
Of course, some hosts will assign a certain course for you to bring. Desserts, sides, entrees – there are so many great recipes from which to choose! And sometimes, you’re in a position where you can’t prepare something yourself, so you must get creative in the prepared foods section of your market. Prepared fruit trays, veggie trays, salads, even hot soups and other options are available at many grocery stores today. There’s certainly no shame in bringing something “store-bought” in this busy day and age. If you really don’t want people to know, transfer whatever you buy into one of your serving dishes. No one ever need know your secret! 😉
Finally, food safety is so important. Remember the "two-hour rule." Any potentially hazardous foods (dairy, meat, fish, cooked vegetables, rice, or chopped/sliced fruits and vegetables) that have sat out at room temperature for more than two hours should not be eaten. If the room temperature is more than 90 degrees, make it a "one-hour rule." Have a plan for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot food should be kept over 140 degrees and cold food should be kept under 40 degrees. If the situation does not allow for temperature control of the food, consider taking (and eating) foods that are less risky. Think bread, chips, nuts, dried fruits, cookies, pretzels, or washed whole fruit.
For your next potluck, explore the recipe section of our website, to get some fabulously delicious and super easy and convenient ideas. Our gourmet sauces and spreads make preparing something special a snap!