By Nicci Micco , September 7, 2012 - 2:42pm
Welcome to the final week of our Keep It Fresh Challenge . We’re glad to have you along on our a 5-week journey to becoming (or celebrating your status as) a fresh-food aficionado, one who plans meals—and forages snacks—from the healthy ingredients stashed in your fridge.
This Week’s Focus: Host a Dinner Party
Yes, summer is officially over, but that doesn’t mean the fun of entertaining has to end. Early fall, in fact, is a great time to host a dinner party for friends… you know, now that everyone is back from their vacations! But don’t let planning a fantastic food-focused evening stress you out. Your dinner party is sure to be a success if you follow these tips:
1. Celebrate the season. Planning your menu around fall’s most fabulous foods (think: apples) means it feels festive, helps ensure that you’re starting with fresh, flavorful ingredients and can even save you money. Need some ideas? Check out EatingWell’s Top Recipes for Fall .
2. Ask about guests' eating restrictions. You want to be sure you’re serving a well-rounded menu that everyone can enjoy. Consider including a delish meatless dish (browse our Best Vegetarian Recipes ). If your group includes someone who avoids gluten, plan to make a gluten-free dessert . Your gluten-free guest will be grateful and the other guests won’t even notice.
3. Offer fun, signature sips. If you drink alcohol, you’ve probably put wine and beer on your shopping list. But don’t forget to have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available, such as sparkling water. And why not offer to whip up a signature drink for the soiree? Get inspired with these festive cocktail and mocktail recipes .
4. Get the party started with light bites. Yes, dinner is important, but doesn’t everyone love apps? Keep things easy for you and light and healthy for them (so no one gets so full by the first course that they fall asleep), with these No-Cook Instant Appetizer recipes .
5. Refill platters often. Hold back some food in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Nothing’s ickier than a platter of food left out for five hours. (Plus, that left-out food can make you sick—see Keep It Fresh, Week 3 .)
6. The dishes can wait. Don’t start cleaning up while your guests are still enjoying the party. You stay and enjoy it too!
For more Keep It Fresh tips and recipes, visit our Keep It Fresh page .