How to Plan Cooking for People All Weekend

Suddenly the in-laws have called and they plan to be here from Friday until Sunday at noon. Looking in the fridge, you notice you are nearly out of everything. Don't panic. This is an opportunity to plan your meals, have a great grocery list, and have everything under your control all weekend long.


  • Cereal
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Pancakes
  • Sausage
  • Fruits: melons, apples, grapes, bananas, cherries, Blueberries, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Oranges
  • Salad fixings: Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, corn, cheeses, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, dressings
  • Mini-Pizzas
  • Bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sliced Cheese
  • Sliced Deli Meats
  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • Slivered veggies: Carrots, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, olives (optional)
  • Potato chips
  • Tortilla chips
  • Salsa
  • Corn Dogs
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Meat Varieties: chicken, beef, lamb, pork, etc
  • Barbecue sauces or make your own sauces
  • Sliced Veggies (Onions, Peppers) and Fruit like Pineapple for Kabobs
  • Beans
  • Mac N Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Cake
  • Pie
  • Pudding
  • Whipped Cream
  • Popsicles
  • Cookies


  1. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 1
    Plan. Think about meals in a 3-6 meals a day kind of way, assuming that you may add in, besides the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, things like snacks and dessert.
  2. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 2
    Cover your Breakfasts. Now separate out each type of planned meal and plan for each day. Will your guests be there before or after breakfast on Friday. If before, then plan on 3 days of breakfasts. You do not want to prepare the same thing each day, and can allow people options.
    • Cereal is a staple in many households, but it can get boring and not everyone is lactose tolerant.
    • Try Eggs and Bacon one morning
    • Pancakes and sausage is another good option.
    • Or you can splurge and get donuts as a treat for one morning.
  3. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 3
    Snacks. Lucky for you, fruit has been an adequate snack go-between for the breakfast to lunch scenario.
    • Get a few varieties that are easy to pop into the mouth or pick up and eat, like melons, apples, grapes, bananas, cherries, Blueberries, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Oranges and so many others.
  4. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 4
    Lunches. The sandwich has dominated the scene in America, especially, since the late 1800s. However, this does not have to be your only option.
    • Day 1: Salads, pizzas, mini-brioches, and crudites are acceptable and good for a small buffet so that people can have options.
    • Day 2: Make your own sandwiches
    • Day 3: Try to pick out something adventurous or different but allow for both carnivorous and vegetarian options as your guests may have a preference. There are so many cultures in the world that you can borrow from, like Sushi from Japan or Pad Thai dishes with Noodles from Thailand, or Curry (Available with any meat option) from India, and so many more.
  5. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 5
    Evening snacks - These can be light fares but aimed at your bottomless leg grazers who never are quite satisfied. Keep a small tray or plate loaded with:
    • a dip of choice (French Onion, or Onion and Chives or Ranch are common)
    • plenty of cut up vegetables like celery which is cheap, carrots, again cheap, and things that are crisp like cucumbers, green/red/orange/yellow bell peppers, and broccoli and cauliflower. Add in a few olives (your choice of green or black) and you've got a grazer's paradise.
    • Present it with nuts one night,
    • potato chips another night and
    • tortilla chips with salsa the final night.
  6. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 6
    Dinner is the most important meal but it doesn't have to mean its expensive. Are your guests with kids or without? If will, keep mini-corn dogs and chicken tenders available for the first 2 nights. If without kids, plan your meals to cater to your audiences.
    • Grilling meats and kabobs one night will satisfy the new guests and add in American favorites like beans and chips or mac n cheese. Corn on the cob is always a treat and a salad will cover your greens, but make it colorful.
    • Do a pasta dish one night and offer both red and white sauces.
    • On your final night, select a dish that covers all your favorite meal options to give your guests a view of life from your perspective, but do it up. You want the last meal they have with you to be both filling and memorable.
  7. Image titled Plan Cooking for People All Weekend Step 7
    Desserts. Now comes the easy part. Desserts are something that everyone has an opinion about but also has the most variety.
    • Cookies,
    • cakes,
    • pies,
    • ice creams,
    • popsicles,
    • cremes,
    • puddings, and so much more are available. The hard part will be in narrowing down the options enough to not overdo it and overwhelm your guests and their sweet tooth.


  • Always have a meat option available as not everyone can tolerate more than 2 hours without a 2 - 4 oz portion of meat.
  • Always keep a vegetarian option at the ready. Not everyone ascribes to the omnivore or carnivore lifestyle.
  • Know what types of food present what types of nutrition. Aim to cover all 6 options in case someone selects less of one than the other in one meal. The food types are: meats, grains/nuts, dairy, veggies, fats/oils, and fruits. Know generally whether you are food pyramid conscious or just allowing for a splurge due to guests.


  • Do not attempt to overstuff your guests. This can prevent them from leaving.
  • Try not to worry, planning ahead is the best way to overcome this fear.

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Categories: Meal Planning