How To Plan A Menu For Your Party


Nothing brings a group of people together like good food and a well planned menu can be the thing that takes a simple gathering of friends and family and turn it into something memorable. With a few simple rules the average home cook can create a lovely spread of delicious foods for their guests.

The Four Food Groups

When planning a dinner menu professional chefs use this rule of thumb: one protein, two starches and one vegetable. Whether you are creating a spread of appetizers, a sit down dinner or a buffet the same principle applies. First decide what protein you are going to serve: chicken, beef, pork or fish. Next you can use your protein selection to help you pick out two starches, such as grilled corn, risotto or fresh bread. Then choose a lightly cooked or raw vegetable to round out the meal like a tossed salad or steamed vegetables. These four selections will help you create a balanced, full-bodied meal.


When you go to choose the different components of your menu you should take into consideration what growing season it is. In general you should serve lighter foods in warm weather and richer foods in colder weather. Finding out what produce is in season locally will help you to determine the make up of your menu. Using seasonal fruits and vegetables will also help your dishes taste their best.

Keep It Simple

Choose dishes that can be easily prepared ahead of time and then finished off just before or as your guests are arriving. Pay attention to the recipes you are selecting and how much time each one of them will take to prepare so that everything comes together smoothly and at the same time.

Make a Timeline

This doesn’t have to be complicated. All your food timeline needs to be is a list of the dishes you are planning to serve and which ones you are planning to make first. This will help you to stay relaxed and not become overwhelmed during your food preparation, making sure you do not forget anything.

And last but not least….. RELAX! When planning a party you have to have a sense of humor. Something will inevitably go wrong. Remember that what your guests don’t know won’t hurt them. So get out your favorite cookbooks and magazines or pull up your favorite websites and start planning!

This article was written by the catering experts at They have been catering Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte and hundreds of other cities for years.

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