Out With the Old: How to Spice Up Your Dinner Menu for Your Next Get-Together

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90% of Americans say they don’t like to cook, and that number is climbing. Chances are, you’re among that number — but that can change.

Dining out costs Americans big money every month. Not only that, but it lacks the coziness and creativity that eating at home can give. Whether you’re a kitchen veteran or a fledgling cook, why not try cooking dinner for your next get-together?

If you’re not sure where to start planning your dinner menu or you need some help to shake it up, this article’s for you. Grab a fork and dig into our tasty tips and spicy ideas for your next dinner party!

Break Down the Courses

One of the easiest ways to start creating a menu is to plan it according to the courses you want to serve.

As a rule, the more formal your dinner party, the more courses it should have. A more casual get-together with friends and family might have fewer courses, although it can be just as delicious as a full-course meal!

If you’re throwing a formal or semi-formal dinner party, you should serve:

  • At least two appetizers
  • A first course (light soup or salad)
  • The main course
  • Two side dishes (accompanying the main course)
  • Bread (accompanying the first course and main)
  • Dessert

This is a general guideline for the courses of your dinner meal, but don’t forget that you can adapt it based on your needs. Is your main course extremely rich? If so, you may want to eliminate one appetizer or side dish to avoid overwhelming your guests.

Are you ready to take your dinner party to the next level? You can honor a special occasion with the most formal type of dinner, the twelve-course meal. Be warned: this type of meal may require months of planning, and you’ll want to do it justice with a black-tie dress code. 

Choose a Flavor Family

A dinner party isn’t a potluck of random dishes thrown together. A carefully crafted dinner meal has to take flavor into account. 

You don’t want your dishes to have flavors that fight with each other, but neither do you want them to blend together too much. Your ideal dinner has dishes that taste good together without all tasting the same. 

One way to plan flavours is to choose one dish per course to carry the punchiest taste. For instance, if one of your appetizers is a strong-tasting goat cheese platter, let the other one play second fiddle with a mellower flavor. That way, you don’t overwhelm your guests’ palates all at once.

All of the courses should complement each other as well. An entree that clashes with the lingering taste of your first course will leave your guests wincing.

The safest way to avoid clashing flavors is to keep your dinner party within one cultural sphere. For instance, the dynamic flavor notes of Thai cuisine — including creamy coconut milk, spicy curry, rich meats, and acidic lime juice — harmonize perfectly together. 

Of course, nothing’s stopping you from getting creative with your dinner meal. If you want to create a menu that challenges your guest’s notions of what tastes good together, we’re all for it. Just make sure your unusual flavor combinations leave a good taste in everyone’s mouth.

Create Complementary Textures

Great food isn’t just about flavor. Some of our favorite foods delight us with their textures — or, more often, texture combinations. The right balance of crunch, squish, crumble, and spread can take your delightful flavors to the next level.

If you’re looking for some standby texture pairings, here are your go-to ideas:

  • Crusty bread with smooth goat cheese
  • Chewy rice with crunchy vegetables
  • Crisp salad greens with crunchy walnuts and apples
  • Chewy pasta with dense seafood or meat
  • Saucy curry and chewy naan bread

Most go-to dinner party foods offer a pleasing texture contrast but beware of some favorite foods that lean too far in one direction. For instance, a typical spaghetti dinner focuses on the carb-laden comfort of garlic bread and pasta. Without another side dish (like fresh salad), this meal is all chew and no crunch.

When in doubt, add a side dish that has a different texture. It will add an extra flair to your dinner and your guests will appreciate the variety.

Let Someone Else Do the Cooking

Planning a dinner party is a task in itself. Cooking dinner from scratch adds a layer of difficulty that you might not be ready to tackle.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you’re a Michelin-star chef to create a new menu at home. Why not source excellent-quality food for your first dinner party so that you can focus on organizing the event?

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between affordability and authenticity. The XCJ serves you fresh, authentic dumplings for the perfect unexpected entree that will wow your guests.

Sourcing your entree from a quality supplier is a great choice for hesitant cooks. You get to craft a dinner party menu and practice your cooking skills on some of the elements while leaving most of the cooking to the pros. It’s also the perfect option if you have your heart set on a dinner theme but don’t know how to cook some of the dishes.

Keep Your Dinner Menu Sizzling

Even if “pro chef” isn’t on your CV, there’s no need to let your dinner routine get stale. With these tips, you can whip up a new dinner menu at home, with spicy inspiration from all corners of the globe. We hope you loved this article! Looking for more satisfying content? Check out the rest of our blog for more lip-smacking food info!

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