General Planning

Hide Your Dinner Ingredients

When I host, I like to separate food for people to enjoy any time with food I’m planning on using for a specific meal. Shelf-stable food can be hidden in a high cabinet or the back of a pantry, though you may want to label any tempting items like pasta.

Food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen is a bit more difficult. I suggest keeping it in drawers covered with a paper towel. Write notes on the towels that say “Please don’t eat me. I’m for dinner!” or something humorous but that gets that message across. (I think “don’t eat” is fine, but some people seem to find it rude.)

Some ingredients will be for general consumption and specific meals, like eggs. Keep some hidden and leave others in the public eye. Be sure to leave out basics, like oil and spices, or people will go hunting for them.

Conversely, if you want something to get eaten up, leave it on a plate in small portions on the counter or in another public but non-central place. People will snack when they think no one is watching. The smaller the portion (so long as you can pick it up with your hands), the more people will grab a bite. And a second, third and fourth.

Do be careful not to leave items that look like food on the counter. My uncle hosted a my sister, her friends and me at his home in the Pennsylvania woods one summer. As it was then his primary residence, he left the dog treats in their usual place – in a metal bowl on the kitchen island. At least two different people accidentally tried the dog treats. Not harmful but certainly unpleasant.

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