It never seems to fail. Guests always seem to show up just when the cupboards are bare, sans a lowly jar of martini olives and some salad dressing. If this has ever happened to you, here are a few ideas on how to keep a pantry stocked for unexpected guests.
Snack and Appetizer Ideas
To keep a pantry stocked for unexpected guests, it is advised to keep a few easy snacks and appetizers around as well. Dry goods such as crackers, chips, and roasted nuts, keep for quite a long while when stored in a cool, dry place. These can easily be paired with cut up chunks of cheese, fresh fruit, or fresh vegetables that you probably would have in your refrigerator anyway. Frozen store bought appetizer items can also be kept on hand in case unexpected company comes by, but do not last as long. Or, consider keeping a few ingredients on hand for a quick and easy appetizer recipe that you already know. (Frozen meatballs, when mixed with cocktail sauce and grape jelly and placed in a slow cooker, make a great simple appetizer that guests love.)
We all know the scenario: your spouse calls and announces that there will be a guest from his/her office joining you for dinner. When leftover Chinese takeout from two nights ago just will not do, it is important to have ingredients already stocked into your pantry. Rice and pasta keep very well in a pantry, plus are easily accompanied by just about any type of meat. Biscuit mix or frozen bread dough can also help stretch an existing meal into feeding more people. When in doubt, add side dishes to a simple meal plan to extend it to meet the size of the crowd dining. A few pre-packaged style or canned side dishes (macaroni, vegetables, etc.) can turn a simplistic dinner into an outright feast for your guests.
Other Important Things to Keep
Always keep things simple if time is a constraint before your sudden guests arrive. Remember, those who are visiting are probably there to see you and not you in the kitchen hurriedly cooking. A good selection of pre-made gravy mixes, seasoning packages, and jarred sauces can save you a lot of time and energy. For desserts in a hurry, also consider keeping a package of instant pudding and a pre-made graham cracker crust in your pantry.