How I Used Meal Kits to Throw a Weeknight Dinner Party

published Sep 21, 2016
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Hosting dinner parties is one of my favorite ways to spend time and catch up with friends. And while I love whiling away a Saturday prepping for the evening, I also love a more casual gathering on a weeknight.

But after a long day at work, it can be tough to squeeze in the time to get everything together before dinner guests arrive. As meal kits like Blue Apron and Plated are designed to streamline dinner at home on such nights, I decided to see how I could use them to my advantage to pull off a small weeknight dinner party.

The Challenge

Most meal kit services deliver boxes that serve just two people. While perfect for small households most nights of the week, it’s not ideal for a dinner party. I planned to host a small party — just four of us total — to keep it manageable for a weeknight, so I needed to figure out a way to increase the number of servings I was getting in my box. Not committed to any particular service already, I went with Martha & Marley Spoon for this particular experiment.

The Strategy

Luckily, as most meal kit services allow you to choose your selected meals for the week, it’s pretty easy to double up on one dish. I went with a double portion of the Pasta Carbonara with Prosciutto, Leeks, and Lemon, which means I’d get enough to serve four people. I scheduled it to arrive the day before my gathering so I’d have it ready to go when I got home from work the day of. With really nothing to prep, thanks to having all the ingredients pre-portioned in the kit, getting my bearings before my friends arrived was no sweat.

(Image credit: Linda Pugliese)

To make it feel more like a dinner party and not just dinner, I also made one quick trip to the grocery store on my way home for a few prepared items like olives and dark chocolate bars for an appetizer and dessert.

Using a meal kit to throw a small dinner party for four to six people really can help you when you’re strapped for time. With no major grocery shopping or prep to do, I didn’t feel strained to rush home from work to get things underway before my friends arrived.

(Image credit: Gabriela Herman)

How to Do It Yourself

Here are a few key takeaways to do it yourself.

  • Assuming the meal kit delivers dishes that serve two people, order a double portion of the same dish to serve four guests or triple portion of the same dish to serve six guests.
  • Keep pre-dinner snacks simple by picking up a few prepared items like marinated olives, Marcona almonds, or a wedge or two or cheese. Here’s what I buy to make dinner with friends possible at the drop of a hat.
  • Dinner party guests always want to bring something, so invite them to contribute a bottle of wine if they ask — that way you won’t have to worry about what to drink.
  • Round out the main course on your own with a simple green salad and perhaps some crusty bread, which also brings variety to the table.
  • Keep dessert simple, too — a few nice dark chocolate bars broken up and laid out after the table has been cleared for everyone to nibble on feels fancy yet casual and is often all you and your guest want to cap off the evening with those last sips of wine.

Have you had people over with the help of a meal delivery service? Any favorite services or dishes we should know about?