Food often accompanies the festive winter holidays and what better way to make a gathering easier to manage than hosting a potluck? Here are a few of the tools I recommend for streamlining the scheduling and the menu planning.
Scheduling made easy:
My favorite solution to find the best date and time that works for an event is Doodle. Trying to coordinate schedules for multiple people can be a bit of a bear. Below is a screenshot of a fake poll that I set up to show a hypothetical potluck that is scheduled for April of 2016. As you can see from the user interface, folks can enter their name and availability. In this instance, Sat., April 9 at 12pm works best for everyone.
Menu planning made easy:
As for the dishes and accoutrements, this year I discovered the online tool Perfect Potluck. It is wonderful for coordinating ownership for various items. As the host you can list out what you think you’ll need; e.g.,: 3 appetizers, 4 mains, 2 desserts, 2 bottles of wine, 12-pack of soda, etc. Then, participants can easily sign up. In the screen shot below for a summer picnic potluck, the names and phone numbers have been blocked for privacy.
Our Favorite Potluck Dish
And speaking of the menu…perhaps you’d like to try one of our favorite recipes for your next gathering?
Meredith…My go-to potluck dish is Mac ‘N Cheese! My fiancé and I are suckers for cheesy goodness over pasta, but I don’t often make macaroni and cheese unless I’m making it for a crowd (goodness knows we’d devour the whole dish in one sitting!). I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese from Mommy? I’m Hungry! food blog is one of my favorites. Pasta, cheese, and butter…does it get any better? This dish is the homemade version of the classic bluebox from Kraft that started it all! Mac ‘n cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and with this recipe you get it right every time!
Kristi…Whenever a potluck calls, I immediately think salads. First, my husband is a strict Paleo so I unfortunately have to stay away from those delicious casserole dishes and decadently sweet treats (…MOST of the time). He’s a major green veggie eater, and so am I, so salads tend to meet both of our needs. What I love about bringing a salad is that you can completely ‘style’ your salad to a specific occasion or season—something with fresh citrus, avocado and romaine for the Summer, to a cranberry and roasted walnut over a bed of spinach for the Fall. I typically start with some of my favorite blogs, including Gimme Some Oven who has a beautiful gallery of salad recipes, but I do like to go off the grid and incorporate in seasonal veggies that I have on hand. Finally, salads are incredibly portable. I typically weave as many ingredients as I can and bring a small mason jar of dressing. Also, there are so many fantastic multi-functional containers that allow you to prep, transport and serve your dish.
Bri… Seasonal fruit salad. (You can tell I’m not the chef of the group!) For a potluck this fall, I’ll likely use persimmon and pomegranate. For taste, price and environmental benefits, I prefer to use organic produce from local farmers, so shopping at my town farmers’ market makes it quite easy to put together a sweet and healthy dish for potlucks.