The Shopping Tip That Takes The Stress Out Of Dinner Party Planning

Dinner parties bring friends and family together over tasty food and great conversation. However, hosting a party typically takes a lot of work, especially when entertaining numerous guests. In addition to cooking the food and setting the table, you'll also need to undertake a shopping trip to gather essential supplies. To make your life easier and decrease the stress associated with dinner parties, break up your shopping excursions based on the types of items on your shopping list.

For example, let's say you want to treat your guests to a beautiful cedar-planked salmon with lemon and dill as the main course. When it comes to buying raw seafood, you'll need to consider the best possible time to hit the seafood counter. When party planning, fish and other types of seafood you plan on cooking should be purchased no more than two days before the event to ensure freshness and food safety. If you're serving any raw seafood items, you'll need to pick those up on the same day as the party. Fortunately, you'll have a bit more leeway when it comes to the other items on your shopping list.

When should you purchase meat and vegetables?

When purchasing raw meats, remember that most have relatively short lifespans (even when stored in the refrigerator). With ground beef, you typically have about one or two days before food safety (and quality) becomes an issue. If burgers are included in your dinner party menu, purchase ground beef no more than two days before the gathering. The same timeline applies to poultry. If you're seeking a stellar cut of steak to serve at your dinner party, you can shop as early as five days before the event. 

As for vegetables, storage times vary according to a few factors. Remember that uncut vegetables will last longer than ones that have been chopped or diced. And while some vegetables require ripening at room temperature, cold storage is best for maintaining quality. When it comes to different types of vegetables, Brussels sprouts can usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days, as can kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. Zucchini can last up to one week in the fridge, as can tomatoes. For convenience, base your shopping schedule around the item with the shortest lifespan and buy all the meats and veggies for your party during one trip. 

Get the rest of your shopping out of the way early

If you're the type of person who likes to get a head start on things, you can pick up certain foods and beverages up to two weeks before the dinner is scheduled. Shopping for these items early gives you plenty of time to head back to the store in case you inadvertently forget something essential, which is ideal for keeping stress at bay while you're firmly entrenched in the party planning phase.

Shopping early also gives you more time to brainstorm fun hors d'oeuvre ideas. While it might seem like an odd pairing, caviar and potato chips make a perfect snack during pre-dinner mingling, and both items can be picked up quite early (consider that unopened jars of caviar can keep for up to five weeks when stored in the refrigerator). 

Early shopping trips are also a good time to pick up any alcohol you plan on serving at the party, such as wine. In this case, don't store wine in problematic areas of the kitchen, such as in proximity to the oven. The heat from the appliance can change the characteristics of wine and leave your guests with a bad taste in their mouth (literally). With a little planning and consideration, shopping for your next party will be a far less stressful experience.