One night, last week, we had an ordinary dinner, but with very special friends.

I didn’t know I would be having dinner guests – it just worked out that way. After a long day, our friends came to pick up their child, so we asked them to join our family for dinner.

I didn’t stress over what I was cooking, but I did think for a minute if I had enough food.

It reminds me of the question that one of my readers, Lisa, recently asked:

I would love to hear your tips on preparing for last minute or surprise guests. Years ago I had some recipes for meals that were completely from the pantry- but as I remember them they all tasted too canned and processed. I love having an item or two in the freezer, but I don’t have a large freezer so that’s a limited option for me and sometimes a hurried defrost affects the quality of the food. Any special hints or tips?

My originally-planned dinner was turkey breast, mashed potatoes and broccoli. I knew we could make the turkey breast stretch to feed another family because I usually buy this meat (Costco) knowing I can get 2 meals out of it! It’s easy to throw in a couple more potatoes, and I changed the broccoli to a large salad and pulled 2 loaves of bread out of the freezer to bake.

What do I Keep on Hand for Guests?
Here are some homemade items that I keep on hand, for last minute dinner guests:
Frozen lasagna
Frozen Potpie (just add fresh vegetable and crust, and then bake)
Turkey breast (kept in refrigerator)
Spaghetti Sauce (pre-made and frozen)
Ground turkey, already seasoned (frozen) to make FRESH enchiladas or tacos
Leftover meat (frozen) to make a “fresh” potpie or casserole

My fridge always has fresh veggies and salad greens, and I keep a loaf or two of Costco’s wheat bread in the freezer. (Remember all you have to do is bake a frozen loaf at 350, for 23 minutes? Crunchy and delicious!)

It was simple and tasty, Yes! But seriously, this ordinary meal was not the highlight of the evening at all, although we raved over the delicious, tender meat and fresh salad. The highlight was when we went around that table and shared about our day – all of us from ages 5 to 45 – and we laughed and laughed as we shared funny stories. Humor is always welcomed at our dinner table.

And what I love, is that it was another memory created for all of the kids. I’m so glad I was open to “last minute,” and I didn’t get hung up on all the “entertaining” details that could have overwhelmed me or bogged me down.

Do you feel like you are open to last minute guests, or do you feel like you need a certain amount of time to prepare?