A detailed menu for your summer gathering helps you with the planning and shopping. Don’t leave it to chance. Break down your meal plan so you know exactly what you need and when you need to make it.
The party type helps set the menu for a summer event. Is it casual or formal? Will everyone show up at once or drop in throughout the day? Are you celebrating something or just hanging out with friends? Choose foods that match the specific type and style of summer gathering you’re planning.
The location can affect the menu you plan. If you’re at home, you don’t have many restrictions. You have full access to your kitchen plus your grill if you want to cook outdoors. If you host somewhere else, you’re limited to the available facilities at that location. For example, if you reserve a community building, it might not have a full kitchen, or grilling might be prohibited.
The serving location is also a consideration. If you want to serve hot foods buffet-style, you’ll need a way to keep them warm. If outlets are limited, plugging in crock pots or other warming devices is an issue. If you’re serving food outdoors in the summer heat, you’ll need a way to keep cold foods cold. Bowls of ice can work, but you’ll also need to monitor the temperature of the foods to keep them safe for guests.
The budget for the party can often be a deciding factor in what to serve. Calculate how much you have to spend on the food before you start planning the menu. If you’re on a hot dog budget, don’t plan for steaks. The type of food isn’t the only budget consideration. The size of your guest list is also a factor. If you are only inviting a few people, you can spend a little more on the food. If you have a large guest list, you’ll need to make the budget go farther.
A lot of the menu planning comes down to personal preference. What do you want to cook and eat? Do you mind spending time in the kitchen or do you prefer easy foods that don’t take a lot of prep time? Your guest preferences and restrictions can also come into play. You can’t make everyone happy, but if someone has an allergy or strict food restriction, those issues are considerations for your summer party menu planning.
Bringing It Together
Once you’ve considered the factors, write out your menu. You might need to make some adjustments as you think through the menu. The foods should go well together while keeping a balance so everyone has a few options they like. Use the menu to plan your shopping list. Break down a to-do list and cooking timeline so you ensure that everything makes it to the serving table the way you want it.