There's nothing like entertaining in the summertime, but sometimes parties pop up at the last minute. Whether your spouse brings home a couple of hungry coworkers or relatives drop in unexpectedly, last-minute dinner parties don't have to be difficult. If you stock up on a few grocery store staples, you'll be prepared for anything. Keep these essential items for entertaining on hand throughout the summer.
1. Disposable Dinnerware
Make a last-minute dinner party more enjoyable with disposable dinnerware. Sturdy paper plates and plastic cups and utensils mean less time for cleanup and more time for mingling with guests. For extra convenience, consider a twist on a tip from Clinton Kelly, co-host of the daytime television show, "The Chew." Keep disposable dinnerware, napkins, and attractive wicker plate chargers in a handy bin for effortless summer shindigs.
2. Chips and Salsa
Forget fancy appetizers. Summertime calls for crunchy tortilla chips and salsa. In the time it takes to open a bag and a jar, you have tasty starters that keep guests snacking while you work on meal prep. For restaurant-style goodness, Epicurious recommends warming tortilla chips and chilling salsa — a few minutes in the freezer should do the trick. For the ultimate pre-dinner bites, serve chips and salsa with sour cream and ready-made guacamole.
3. Ground Beef
Few summertime ingredients are more budget-friendly and versatile than ground beef. Even if you're not entertaining, it's a great warm-weather staple to have on hand. Grill up scrumptious, no-frills burgers for unexpected guests. Or, if you have a few extra ingredients, elevate your dinner party with a burger bar. Cheese, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, dill pickles, bell peppers, bacon, and avocado all make delicious toppings. Don't forget to keep ketchup, mustard, and mayo in stock for the ultimate summertime sandwich.
4. Corn on the Cob
Few foods shout "summer" like corn on the cob, and grilling gives it a delicious smoky, sweetness. For extra convenience, keep pre-shucked corn stocked in the refrigerator for last-minute dinners on the fly. For a zesty alternative to butter and salt, sprinkle corn with lime juice and cayenne powder.
5. Deli Salads
No backyard barbecue is complete without potato salad, but it can be time-consuming to make from scratch. Stop by the deli and grab a few containers of pre-made potato and macaroni salads for quick meals with the family or last-minute entertaining. These satisfying side dishes make the perfect complements to juicy burgers.
Have a little more time for planning a summertime soiree? Check out a few delicious salad recipes.