The recent holiday season had me thinking more than usual about company meals—not the co-workers kind of “company,” but actually for guests coming to my home. Apparently, we’d gone quite a while without asking people over and had become more likely to invest in a “third space”, eating out rather than at home.
Given the range of company we were having—some just for dinner, some staying for several days, some coming for a holiday brunch, and so on—I needed a matrix of ideas. I created a basic spreadsheet for each date of the holiday period, starting well before Christmas and ending a few days after the New Year.
Don’t be fooled into thinking I’m super organized. It’s simply that food ideas flit in and out of my head all day, every day, and I had to corral a few of them and decide what worked well together. This season, for me at least, was not one where I could throw a last-minute meal together and be sure it would all work. Plus, with two refrigerators full, I needed to remember what I’d bought for what meal, or risk wasting it!
First, I went through the staples. These are the meals I learned to cook from my mother, like classic roast beef—and no real recipe. Like any working woman, I use a crockpot when I’m working away from home all day and need a meal at home for dinner. Mine is simple: a quality eye of round, a sprinkle of garlic, salt, and pepper, plus a box of Lipton’s Beefy Onion Soup Mix. I add a little water to ensure a good quantity of au jus, and may chop up onion, potatoes, and carrots so I have a one pot dish. A fresh loaf of grocery store bread, some fruit on the side, and, after 8 hours on low, dinner is served. I even threw the leftovers in to start a meaty and delicious stew.