Can You Deviate from your Menu?

To the reluctant entertainer, the thought of deviating from the menu could be pretty scary. But one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay!

I don’t usually stray too far, but here’s an example of my dinner party last weekend. After sharing some yummy appetizers – and putting meat and veggies on the grill – I had planned to serve salad and bread first.

I thought to myself, how much food do we really need? Especially when you fill up on appetizers, my experience is that guests are not coming to the table starving! So this is what I keep in mind:

If I don’t serve appetizers, I always start my dinner with a dinner salad and bread.
If I serve healthy veggies for dinner, I don’t always need a salad.
I rarely serve a starch along with dinner anymore, unless I know the guests who are coming are “steak and potato” kind of people!
I always serve dessert! How can you end a fun dinner party without a yummy dessert?

Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away in planning too much food. Most of our friends are trying to practice self-control and actually watch their weight. And not only that – do we really need to be gorging ourselves? Because if the food is served – we will eat it!

I cut out the salad last night. I knew we were cooking up delicious veggies – so I quickly put everything for salad back into the fridge. I sliced up the tangerine tomatoes from our garden and served them with dinner (thank you Terri for filling up our garden with your incredible tomato starts!)

The guests didn’t even know. They didn’t even miss it. And our bellies had a little more room for the real stuff. The meat, veggies, and dessert!

How about you – do you feel like you can deviate from your menu if you need to? Do you ever find yourself wasting food because you’ve served too much?

Who were my guests last weekend? Fellow-blogger Julia, and her friend Cris, came to visit and surround our family with California LOVE! We had a lovely visit with food, shopping, swimming, and just being together. Here are some FUN pictures of the girls! And my new outdoor patio set that I picked up the day they arrived, at a garage sale down the street for $15!

Don’t you just love it?

Bye-Bye girls, thanks for the memories and for blessing our family!

(Very top photo – First tomatoes of the season. Tomatoes are easy to grow and one of the best plants to grow at home because the taste is unrivaled when compared to store-bought tomatoes. Dessert – my daughter’s delicious raspberry individual pies! YUM! Oh, and of course our kitty, Hobbes, on my new birthday tablecloth!)

16 comments on “Can You Deviate from your Menu?”

  1. This was great! I love to make the meal I prepare for guest really special – even if it is just in the littlest touch.

    I love the idea of skipping the routine salad and doing something different and simple instead.

    What I need help with is coming up with easy and delicious appetizers.

    How great to have wonderful friends come and visit. It sounds like you had a blast together! Lovin’ the patio furniture. :)


  2. As always, I’m inspired. And I love hearing that you don’t do a starch, you’re right, many of our friends are avoiding ‘carbs’ and so they’re a natural to leave off. I have decided, after coming here how many times and seeing those individual ramekins, that I need to pick up a set of them – anything that gets used that often on your table should be in my cupboards. And you seriously got that patio set for $15? Wow!

  3. you’ve gotta be flexible, definitely. i’m a big planner and i like things to go according to those plans, but i’m usually okay with little changes. however, dessert is never to be skipped. :)

  4. Your 15 dollar patio set is fabulous! I have scrolled through your site and it is so wonderful. You have a gift for hospitality and it overflows to your blog. Such a pretty and welcoming place. It is a gift because not everyone has this ability for entertaining… I don’t! Thanks for letting me take a minute to live elegantly – vicariously through you.


  5. After viewing your blog I am almost ready to drive north again for another serving of that amazingly delicious salmon and home grown veggies…but only if sweet Abby bakes her yummy raspberry tarts!!
    J and I had such a great time with you and your family. You all welcomed us with such kindness and love. It was greatly appreciated from two girls on a road trip!!
    PS I hope Paul is still enjoying his iPhone!!

  6. I’m guilty as charged – I always over cook. My friends don’t eat all day because they know how much food will be at my house. That being said, I have deviated from the menu and it always works out. I agree it leaves room for more important things like dessert.

  7. I love days like this…you look like you had a great time.

  8. I just love visiting your blog. You are so inspiring when it comes to entertaining. You really take the scared perfectionistic part out of it and seem to have so much fun. Just when I think I can I talk myself out of it. I will keep trying though.
    Love the patio set, what a bargin at $15.00

  9. Love, love, love the new patio set. Do you have more photos you can share? I totally agree with eliminating some items from the menu. I did this on Friday night with our meal with friends. They never knew.

    With our new pool, we are entertaining much more and I am so inspired by your words. You have really made it fun to concentrate on the people and worry less about being perfect. I like that!

  10. I think you lost me as soon as I saw the picture of your raspberry type dessert. Is there a recipe for that somewhere? I LOVE raspberries. I loved them so much I used to fight the bees and wasps for them back when I was a child in Maine in my grandmother’s back yard.And I HATE bees and wasps lol. Wonderful post and yes I deviate all the time lol. And no one will ever know unless you tell them what you are serving before hand.

  11. wow that patio furniture is amazing for $15, what a find, I would have been dancing to find that :-)) love love love thrifting!!!

    before I became a reluctant entertainer and entertained a lot I did learn that you don’t need as much food as you think, you really don’t need all those courses and like you said, no-one notices.

    I love the look of those little desserts, can you share the recipe, individual pots are great to bring out…

    thanks SO much for wishing me well on the dinner party, the actual entertaining part went very well, but I was a bit disappointed in the guests behaviour *but* today, you know I’ve learnt something from that, which I think is that I was meant to gain from the experience, oh goodness I’m not making much sense, I think I was being sent a little message about hospitality and that it’s exactly about the other person sometimes…anyhow I’m just about to blog it. Oh and just to let you know, I did panic a bit Friday night but dipped into your blog, took it easy, breathed and it was fine

    p.s. your 70s home looks like a nice place to land for dinner to me…
    oh and sorry to keep leaving you these long messages, I hope that’s ok lol!

  12. Looks like a good time was had by all, even with out the salad :]

  13. Regarding making too much food — I always make extra… I buy some “To Go” containers from United Grocers Cash and Carry — and then I package all the left overs up and send them home with the guests. They always seem to appreciate having a great lunch the next day.

  14. what!!? you mean we could have had salad too!! :) Sandy.. you set a beautiful table and we could have had bread and water and it still would have been perfection. The food was glorious but it was the generous helping of love and friendship that filled c and I both up with deep satisfaction…
    Love to you dear friend,

  15. I think that I’m to the point where I can deviate. There are times I make too much, but we always eat it later. There are many times I get a phone call from hubby saying “oh, I invited so and so over for dinner” and I’ve had to scramble to make it work…It always works. And I’ve learned to not get bent out of shape.

    I love the pics!! How fun. Maybe someday, I’ll take a drive down there…though that would be quite a drive, not sure how far exactly. How far are you from Portland.

    OH!!! and I love that patio furniture…I so need to hit the garage sales!I think from now on I’m only asking for money for gifts so that I can buy things for my house and yard…not having a job can get kinda tricky for spending money…

  16. First of all, I love a summer dinner party on the patio especially if a pool is involved!

    I tend to do a lighter fare in the summer than in the winter. Seems like cold weather screams for soup in a bread bowl!

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

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