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Meal ideas for visiting family

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In-laws are coming up to visit in a few weeks. They will be here for 4 lunches and 4 dinners. I'm trying to keep it simple since I will have just given birth. And no poultry or seafood due to allergies.

Here's what I'm thinking for dinner:
Out one night for Asian food...awesome place downtown
Lasagna, salad, and bread that I can make in the morning and then just throw in the oven.
Grill one night....maybe sausages with onions and peppers...not sure about sides.
Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and veggies.

All of these dinners should be pretty easy to make and I can work around all of their food allergies. Problem is with lunch. I'm out of ideas.

One day we can easily just do Boars Head cold cuts, rolls, and maybe chicken salad for those who can eat it. We may go out one day. I also thought of doing some kabobs, hummus, tabouleh, and pita.....anyone have a tabouleh recipe? And I need another idea.

What else can I make so it doesn't get too boring?

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  1. Oh, and I refuse to make multiple meals. If you don't like what momma makes, you get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That was my mom's rule when I was growing up, and it's my rule now. LOL

    1. Very nice of you to do all of this especially with a new baby! And congratulations!

      Dinners sound good. For lunch, what about pizzas? You can get Boboli pizza crusts (or similar pre-made crusts) and put various toppings on them. You can make them in the oven, or even on the grill. That and a salad is a nice lunch. (or if you really want to make it easy on yourself, order in from a pizzeria!)

      2 Replies
      1. re: valerie

        I would go ahead and make the lasanga and meatloaf and freeze so you just have to pop them in the oven.

        Maybe late breakfast?Quiche and some fruit?

        1. re: valerie

          I like the pizza idea. And it isn't that hard to make your own crusts in advance and freeze, rolled but uncooked. Then just pull out and dress. Salads are great and you can pack anything into them.

        2. Is this a case of the in-laws coming to see the new baby who is days or weeks old? If so, this is the time to call your friends and set up a bucket brigade. Surely they're planning to bring you meals or stuff for the freezer anyway. If you were my friend, I would be thrilled to have you give me a menu and the food restrictions, work out a delivery schedule, and know I'm being of real help to the new mom and dad.

          Seriously, making lasagna is not like reconstituting Hamburger Helper. Are you daft? The grandparents I know usually do a role reversal. They clean the house, they shop for groceries, they cook for and coddle the woman who just gave them a beautiful grandchild!

          Okay, make and freeze a few things if you must, and eat out definitely (hope they pick up the tab). But I say make a few calls, order minestrone and shredded pork and scalloped potatoes with ham or whatever, and have it delivered!

          2 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            My inlaws aren't the "we're here to help and clean the house" kind of people. They're more "show us a good time and take care of us" kind of people. My MIL means well, but is high maintenance, and does not know her way around a kitchen. Thankfully my husband will be here too so he can prepare food while I watch the baby.

            And we make lasagna all the time, I know it's not hamburger helper.

            1. re: nemo

              Nemo, thanks for saying what I was thinking re people going to visit a newborn baby-and-mom (their own grandchild, no less), and expecting to be fed rather than doing the feeding and chores :) Amazing!

              OP: line up your friends for sure. You sound like a good cook and I am sure you would have loved to help out a friend in a similar situation. This is one of the times in your life when you have a free pass to gracefully accept help from others, and enjoy your new baby and your recovery.

              Where's your husband, or does he too not know his way around a kitchen? Let him take over cooking for his parents. If he can''t cook, then he can organize take-out, simple assembly-only meals, or organize assistance from friends.

              If the baby is not born yet, you don't know what kind of baby you will have (each is different) and you may have to cope with a fussy or (heaven forbid) colicky infant. Plus normal sleep deprivation. Plus exhaustion. Plus your total change in emotional focus. Plus .... (you get the picture).

            2. Is this your first baby?

              2 Replies
              1. re: southernitalian

                Yes, it's my first.

                1. re: rizzo0904

                  Well congratulations to you! The reason I asked was I was curious to know if you'd ever experienced the mind altering fatigue you will feel for the first 4 or 5 months (after that it's just a constant tired throb) with a newborn. Please take everyone's advice and ask for help! Best of luck.

              2. Congratulations on the new baby! My in-laws are very similar so I feel your pain. The Boboli pizzas for lunch are a great idea. Another thing that everyone loves is ham and cheese on a croissant. Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Unwrap and continue cooking until flaky. So good! Another lunch idea is BLTs. It's perfect tomato season and easy to make. We make sausages with onion and peppers often and our favorite sides are baked beans and pasta salad. I know it's not fancy, but the flavors are so good together. I have an awesome pasta salad that can be made a few days ahead and will keep for about a week. It has a vinaigrette dressing and red onion. Let me know if you want the recipe.

                1. Omelets are easy, scrambled eggs even easier.

                  Then there are, soups with good bread-neither have to be home-made.

                  Pasta salads without the offending allergens.

                  1. I say "give 'em leftovers"! I know you probably don't want to do that, but it's a thought. Also, soup. Split pea, vegetable beef both freeze well, make ahead of time. I also agree that make the meatloaf and lasagna up ahead of time and freeze it. I put my casseroles frozen in a cold oven, and they just take about an extra 1/2 - 1 hour to cook (covered with foil of course).

                    Your dinner menu sounds great! And congrats on the wee one! Good luck with the in-laws. Let us know how it goes!

                    1. My in laws came to see our new baby along with my husband's three brothers the day that we got home from the hospital and had the nerve to ask me what was for dinner. I told them that whatever they wanted to order was fine with me! You sound very sweet and they are obviously lucky to have a daughter in law that is concerned with feeding them but I think you are underestimating the exhaustion you will experience. Good food is important but sometimes it needs to take a backseat to other events. I would stock up on basics and let them fix whatever they want. It will give them something to do other than bother you!

                      1. The one culinary rule I learned from my family was "if you have company, have a ham."

                        A large ham can be served for dinner with simple sides and minimal effort. Leftovers provide for sandwiches at lunch, and can be served with eggs for breakfast/brunch. Even the kitchen confounded MIL can probably make herself a ham sandwich!

                        And yea, I'd get that lasagne in the freezer before the baby comes!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cyberroo

                          Great reply and great idea!

                        2. As one other poster mentioned, soup is easy and you can always put it in the crockpot ahead of time and makes a good lunch on its own or with a sandwich. Quessadillas would be easy as well, just cheese in tortilla, other ingredients optional.

                          I have also seen grilled cheese recipes that are baked (and you can always do more gourmet versions) so that way everyone's sandwich is done at the same time and with only one baking sheet.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: etoiles

                            You just made me feel very very lucky for my in laws who are very much the step in and do home repair and cooking type of people. I usually have to plan meals very well so my mother-in-law does ending up doing all the cooking. I agree with the soup idea because you can make it ahead of time and reheat and just requires the addition of bread and (if you are feeling up to it) a salad. Some soup ideas include:

                            Tortilla soup (with tortilla chips on the side)
                            Corn chowder (with a nice sourdough)
                            Chili (with cornbread)

                            Another idea for one of the lunches is to do a brunch. Fruit salad that's been premade (the jars of citrus segments that Dole has is a lifesaver), a frittata or a baked french toast.

                          2. Congrats on the bambino!

                            I like the ham idea also!

                            You could do a typical Jewish brunch spread: bagels, lox, cream cheese, tomatoes & onion, tuna and egg salads, pickles & olives, and a fruit salad.

                            If you wanna do easy fresh-baked pizzas, Trader Joe's sells dough for about a $1. I top mine with pesto, goat cheese, mushrooms and black olives.

                            Quiche and salad is filling and yummy.

                            1. How about tacos? Just brown the meat, and have your husband cut up the fixins. That way people can make their own, but still have a great meal. Congrats!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sunangelmb

                                Definitely tacos - or quesadillas, or burritos. Anything people can build on their own.

                                Or maybe a frittata? It's less fussy to make than individual omelettes.

                              2. One of the simplest things I have in my arsenal of quick to make, impressive at the table recipes is an omlette/strata/frittata hybrid. I made this up at a weekend retreat at my friend's lake house with 15 people to feed and a very ill equipped kitchen.

                                Whisk however many eggs you need for the number of people you're serving with a little milk, salt and pepper - I've done with a dozen eggs or more eggs, and I've done this with 4 eggs (just change the size of the pan). Mix in whatever fillings are handy/you like. Ham? Chorizo? Any kind of cheese - grated, crumbled, cubed, whatever? Sauteed mushrooms and onions? Any combo of fresh or dry herbs that floats your boat? Sauteed potatoes with crispy shallots and goat cheese is one of my faves. It's a great way to use leftovers. Butter or oil the baking dish and evenly distribute your chosen filling on the bottom, and then pour the egg mixture over the whole thing. Bake at 350 until the center is no longer jiggly...more eggs, longer cooking time, start checking at 20 minutes.

                                The preparation usually takes me 10 minutes, and then it cooks itself. The leftovers are good at room temperature as well. Nice for breakfast and for lunch/brunch with a simple green salad. You'll be amazed how the eggs fluff up.

                                Just be careful not to take the browning on top too far.

                                And I LOVE the ham suggestion! So easy, so delicious and make for the best leftovers! (I think I've even used ham leftover from an Easter brunch to make the egg recipe one year.)

                                1. Okay, so I revamped the menu based on ideas here and how tired I'm going to be. And to answer another poster, DH is great in the kitchen.

                                  Night one: grill sausages, cole slaw and potato salad

                                  Day 2 lunch: cold cut sandwiches with cole slaw and pot salad leftover from night before

                                  Day 2 dinner: out

                                  Day 3 lunch: out

                                  Day 3 dinner: frozen spanikopita from trader joes, salad, olives, hummus, pita

                                  Day 4 lunch: no idea....something easy

                                  Day 4 dinner: lasagna (frozen beforehand), leftover salad, bread

                                  Day 5 lunch: probably don't need it, they want to go out to a local breakfast place that serves huge portions.

                                  Then they are gone.

                                  Thanks for the egg recipes, but the person allergic to poultry is also allergic to eggs...although in small quantities they are okay (like in a cake).

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rizzo0904

                                    Advance congrats on the new baby -- your life will change in so many ways! Minimize any work you'll need to do...paper plates, advance prep...this little new person will be, and should be, the center of your energy.

                                    Before my first, I cooked a turkey breast...cut it in half to serve whole, the other half sliced for sandwiches, salad, etc. Plus it's fast to just pick up a chunk with a splat of mayo for you when you're between naps and feeding.

                                    Tuna salad is also your friend for lunch...even the cooking impaired can whip together a can of tuna and some mayo.

                                    Take good care of yourself...sleep when the bambino sleeps whenever/whatever time that is --and enjoy this new chapter!

                                    1. re: rizzo0904

                                      Not sure if you are planning to take a brand-new baby out to lunch and dinner with you, but if you are, I would strongly recommend that you make sure he/she is well fed before you go so that he/she sleeps through the meal. Otherwise, you will be sitting there feeding him/her while everyone else eats!

                                    2. When we have guests, I like to make pulled pork

                                      7 - 9 pound pork shoulder
                                      roast in 300 degree oven for 5 - 6 hours
                                      shred
                                      add 1 and 1/2 bottles of Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce
                                      serve on rolls with cole slaw
                                      fruit salad
                                      baked beans

                                      or can make it in a crockpot on low for 9 - 10 hours with 1 large sliced onion, 2 cups water and 8 - 10 whole cloves.

                                      http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: eatmyfood

                                        Mmmmm... that sounds great. And so simple. Do you pan sear the meat first?

                                      2. You can also try some kind of fajita or soft taco wrap with pork or beef. Use a fajita mix to keep it simple, grill the beef (I like flank or skirt steak for this), slice it thin and serve with peppers, onions, rice, beans (which can even come from a can -- stay off your feet). If you want to use pork, buy a pork loin roast or shoulder cut, cut into small pieces and braise in a thin seasoned tomato-based, sauce until tender and serve as carnitas in a wrap. If you keep the spices simple -- cumin, light garlic, oregano, -- and serve with peppers and onions, or chopped tomato with cilantro as salsa fresca, anyone will like it.

                                        Would you consider hamburgers? I grind my own chuck or sirloin, but if you can't fuss, buy premium ground beef or patties, add lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, onion, pickles and the usual condiments, and consider french fries. I am partial to homemade, but if you don't want to fry, you can use frozen or consider homemade oven wedges:

                                        - Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
                                        - Peel russets (if you prefer skins, srub) and slice into six long wedges per potato. If you use moderate size bakers you can plan on one potato per person, but you may have to adjust for size with either the number of wedges or the total quantity.
                                        - On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes in olive oil, paprika (or smoked paprika, if you prefer) onion powder, salt and light pepper.
                                        - turn once in about fifteen minutes and bake until crispy.
                                        You should have perfect seasoned oven fries without deep frying, and they are great with hamburgers. or anything else that can use a french fry on the side.

                                        Boy -- it sounds tough to cook without poultry or seafood, but you know -- it can work with basics. Believe it or not, my hamburgers are among my daughter's most requested items because they taste great. BTW, one of my favorite meals is meatloaf.

                                        Good luck and congratulations.

                                        1. Do you have a grill? You could put hubby to work grilling some meat or salmon or whatever along with a medley of grilled veggies or grilled potato wedges.

                                          Also, grilled paninis make a nice warmed up meal (can be done inside too obviously). Or quesadillas. Both can be assembled ahead of time and then thrown into the grill pan.

                                          You might also just buy from the local gourmet grocery store a variety of antipasto, cold salads, prociutto, a nice cheese with good bread, and setting it all out in nice dishes for lunch. Cold shrimp cocktail is nice too.

                                          Congratulations on your baby!!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Mellicita

                                            I just went thru this whole drama... except I had twins.... My advice, keep it SIMPLE. VERY SIMPLE. Self service for the in-laws, so you can sleep, shower or feed the baby, (if you are BF' ing, you'll be feeding or pumping for the baby every 2-3 hours, which doestnt allow much time for cooking) . Stock your freezer with goodies from Trader Joe's Costco or BJ's.. There's always pasta! Or, have your hubby cook! Use paper plates if needed.

                                            Someone gave me this advice during my first few weeks -- anyone who comes over to visit needs to help do chores... big or small chores....fold laundry, wash bottles, cook something, clean something, (or someone!) work outside... and all of my visitors helped with something!

                                            Best wishes for an easy delivery!

                                          2. Soup stretches any meal.

                                            Crock pot. Kielbasa, sauerkraut, onions, caraway seeds, brown sugar, and beer.

                                            How about a big package of breakfast rolls from Costco or Sam's Club for breakfast. And send out for do-nuts.