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My sister and her little boy arrived earlier this week for a visit! They’ll be here all through the weekend and through most of next week. Nine days in all! Nine!!
I guess I’m a little excited. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Okay, I’ve got it back together now.
We don’t get to spend much “in-person” time together since they live far away, so every visit is precious.
I’ve been planning food for weeks in advance of their arrival. Even though it’s just two extra people around (really one and a half, since my nephew is only a year old), I use every excuse I can find to make more food. We all share a love of nutritious food that tastes great and looks beautiful, so I try to work in lots of fresh produce and seasonal goodies into the meal plan when they’re here.
Cooking nutritious food for guests is not as challenging as you may think. It takes some extra planning and a little prep work, but the rewards are well worth it. With my sister here, being able to sit down to a healthy dinner every night is priceless. And watching my little nephew nibble on his veggies is pretty cute, too!
I try to prepare a good chunk of food in advance if it’s freezer friendly so that we’ve got a few staples stocked and ready to go. A few things I made earlier this week:
- A batch of the Whole Grain Applesauce Pancakes (pictured above) from my cookbook. They’re on page 70. I cooked them, cooled them, and froze them. Now all we have to do is pop them in the toaster for a quick toddler-friendly breakfast.
- A big batch of chicken sausages. Great for breakfast or throwing on salads for lunch. I even chop them up and add them to stir-fries at the last minute for a little extra protein.
- Cookies! Everyone loves a sweet treat after dinner (or lunch…), so I keep cookies in the freezer to pull out and thaw in a snap. My Banana Energy Cookies (pictured below) freeze beautifully, as do the always popular Grain-Free Granola Balls.
It’s a good idea to shop before your guests arrive and make sure you’re locked and loaded for a few days so you don’t have to run to the store when all you really want to be doing is spending time together. I shopped the morning before my sister arrived, armed with a list that had everything I needed to make what was on my meal plan. I broke the meal plan into chunks so that the first grocery shopping trip would last us through Saturday morning. It looked something like this:
Wednesday: Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce, brown rice pasta with peas and olive oil, roasted broccoli, big vegetable salad
Thursday: Skillet apple chicken (new recipe I’m testing!), Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips from page 108 of my book, big vegetable salad
Friday: Sloppy joe’s (over brown rice or steamed cabbage), roasted sweet potatoes & cauliflower, Cabbage & Apple Slaw (pictured below)
You’ll see that I don’t have a plan for breakfasts or lunches. I know to keep on hand plenty of veggies for salads and stir-fries, finger foods for my nephew, smoothie and oatmeal ingredients, nuts and seeds and fruit for snacks, that sort of thing.
My sister eats similarly to how I eat, so it’s pretty great that I don’t have to stock a bunch of unusual foods in the house for her. She’s happy with just about anything and loves healthy food! Of course, there has to be little flexibility when there’s a toddler involved. But we’re lucky that he’s such a good eater and helper in the kitchen.
Sticking to the Plan
As the visit goes on, I’ll still be sticking to the meal plan I created as much as possible. When there’s a plan in place, it streamlines the cooking process and makes it more affordable, too. This weekend we’ll be doing some running around to visit with extended family in the area, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw healthy food out the window. We’ll make “Hallie-friendly” salads to take to the potlucks (meaning they’re gluten- and dairy-free) and I’ll turn to the slow cooker on busy days when there’s no time to cook a meal.
Before they leave next week, we’ll make sure to load up their travel bags with healthy snacks to eat on the plane ride home. But let’s not talk about saying goodbye just yet. There’s still plenty of fun to be had!
What are your tips and tricks for cooking for guests?