The Easiest Way To Ensure Your Potluck Goes Off Without A Hitch

dishing up from a potluck
dishing up from a potluck - Cabeca de Marmore/Shutterstock

Being responsible for organizing a potluck can be stressful. There are a lot of moving parts to consider, such as what if everyone shows up with the same dish? Or, who will be in charge of providing plates to eat off of? On the other hand, a potluck is also the perfect way for individuals to showcase their secret family recipes. Plus, having everyone bring a dish adds to the food diversity and makes prep much easier for the host.

Whether a potluck takes place at the office, the neighborhood park, or in your home, the easiest way to guarantee everyone is happy is to ensure a well-rounded variety of food, alongside supplies for eating, drinking, serving, and maintaining proper food temperatures. Achieve this with a simple sign-up sheet so there's no doubt about what each person is responsible for. Then prepare the space to receive all that food, and you'll be set up for success before the function even begins.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

The Food

Dishing up a plate at a bbq
Dishing up a plate at a bbq - Linda Hughes Photography/Shutterstock

There's no doubt about it, food takes center stage at a potluck. With everyone looking forward to good eats, it's important to offer an assortment of options. To have an idea of what will appear at the party, send out a sign-up sheet with general categories. You can simply include dessert, side, and main, or get more specific. For example, if you've set a theme for a Mexican potluck, make sure someone signs up for cheese, sour cream, guacamole, meat, tortillas, chips, etc.

You could also provide the main course and let others fill in the sides. In that case, tell your guests you'll provide the pulled pork, for example, and let them sign up for pasta salad, green salad, baked beans with bacon, veggie platter, etc. Also, be sure to cover your bases for guests with special dietary considerations. Ask someone to contribute gluten and dairy-free options, and leave a space on the signup sheet for vegan or vegetarian dishes.

A potluck is as much about gathering as it is about food, so make sure your guests have drinks to sip while they visit. If appropriate, provide or ask guests to bring wine, beer, or other beverages. Whether you have alcohol or not, always provide some non-alcoholic options such as lemonade, party punch, soda, coffee, iced tea, and water. An easy way to go about this is to provide water and ask guests to bring their own beverages.

Food Safety And Organization

recyclable dinnerware
recyclable dinnerware - Nikita Burdenkov/Shutterstock

While the food and drinks take center stage, they will need support in the form of space, temperature control, and servingware. To ensure that potato salad doesn't spoil in the sun, provide trays of ice where guests can place plates or bowls of food that should remain chilled. Similarly, make sure to place food tables near an outlet to simplify plugging in slow cookers. If that's not an option, run an extension cord instead. Since we're talking about food safety, remember to promptly put food away after the event too.

As the event organizer, you'll probably take on the responsibility for basic supplies like cups, silverware, napkins, and plates. However, you may have a guest who would rather bring supplies than food. If so, embrace it. In addition to plates and forks, provide some serving utensils and make sure there is a cooler filled with ice for drinks. You may also want a full ice bucket for guests to use when mixing drinks or chilling their soda.

In conclusion, potluck perfection is not difficult to achieve. By sharing the responsibility with your guests, you can focus on keeping everyone organized so the food and drink bases are covered and the event is a home run.

Read the original article on Daily Meal