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What to make and/or have on hand for out of town guests?

I'm having a couple stay with me over a weekend - arriving Friday evening (flying in from about 2 hours away) and staying til Sunday evening.

Saturday meals (brunch & dinner) are planned meals out, with everything else in flux... I'd like to have something for them to nibble on in the evening when they arrive, and something on hand to snack on throughout the weekend, should they be hungry and want a snack.

I keep thinking a bread of some sort (like a blueberry bread) - something not too sweet (like cake) but satisfying, should they want a little snack... It would be ideal if it was something that I could put out on the kitchen counter so they don't have to feel like they are raiding the fridge (even though they'll get the "help yourself to anything" disclaimer).

Do you have any go-to preparations for out of town guests or things you like to keep on hand? Any and all ideas are appreciated!

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  1. Scones cover breakfast, or if you want something sweet. Fresh fruit, bagels with assorted shmears, sliced cheeses, and nice cold cuts.

        1. How thoughtful of you!

          I am always sure to have a good selection of hot and cold beverages (for example, I will offer herbal/decaf tea, which I wouldn't normally have on hand).

          I like to offer little packages/dishes of mixed nuts, almonds, etc., plus a nice selection of olives, cheeses and wine/beer for the evening hour. I always have scotch/gin/vodka/bitters on hand, so I'll bring in mixers (little bottles of tonic, juices, lemons/limes)

          I like to let guests know that there's a cold cut tray in the fridge (as let'sindulge) mentioned. And I like to make a frittata, which is nice warm or at room temp.

          4 Replies
            1. re: carrytheone

              "House" brands for all liquors unless I know the guest prefers something else. Ketel One and Tanqueray are what sits in our liquor cabinet. But like I said, if I know a guest likes something, I'll stock it...did that with Gran Marnier when an uncle visited last winter for five days. We don't normally have that on hand, but we knew he loves it.

              ETA: Scotch is my parents' brand. Chivas. Always, always, always. They're now passed but we live in their house, and I don't think I'll never not have Chivas on shelf. It'd feel wrong.

            2. re: pinehurst

              I was also going to suggest nuts, plus dried fruit. These are things I keep in jars on the counter year-round. Some substantial crackers and presliced cheeses (in fridge) are another good snack.

            3. I would have several things out, sweet and savoury. Fruit, small bowls of nuts, roasted nuts or even roasted chickpeas, cookies, crackes, small jars of jam, cookies. Blueberry bread would be great on the counter. Cheese ready to serve in a container but unwrapped would be good too.

              Think about what you like to snack on and go from there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: herby

                If you have Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours, the first recipe in the book is for blueberry muffins. It is a keeper. I often measure out the dry ingredients and the wet and refrigerate for the next AM. Then in the AM I preheat my oven combine the wet and dry spoon them into the muffin cups, into the oven and I go shower and get dressed and the muffins are ready to take out and serve. This should work with any muffin or quick bread recipe.

              2. second the mentions of fruit, nuts, cheese olives below
                things people can pick on without feeling either obligated or like they are raiding your fridge

                I would add - individual size waters, sparking water, and beverages are nice - people don't always like to open a whole bottle of somebody else's stuff

                Some sort of chip and dip may be nice too - like a tray of veggies and pita with hummus

                1. Yes, nuts. At our house this is most often light-salt roasted cashews and also sugar/cinnamon spiced pecans or almonds.

                  Oatmeal raisin cookies. Non-chocolate and very satisfying.

                  Cheese & crackers.

                  And if possible have a half-shelf of fridge space open for guests to store their own beverages, etc. if brought with them or purchased while with you.

                  1. Your sweet bread sounds great and can become a breakfast choice as well.

                    I find people are less likely to be interested in whole fruit than fruit salad.... Or buy grapes and berries (super snack friendly) to have in open containers or bowls in the fridge.

                    This sounds stupid but individual bottles of water in the room they will be staying in are infinately appreciated.

                    I concur with others re: cheese, olives, crackers, crudite for late fri arrival snacks.
                    Don't fret too much or overthink this, (most) houseguests are really appreciative!

                    1. I think a savory quick bread would be great to keep on the counter top for them to slice off a piece should they want a snack.

                      I found this recipe for olive oil bread with figs and hazelnuts that sounds so good. I haven't made it but I have saved the recipe and plan to try it soon. Here is a link:


                      1. Is there an understanding about their arrival? As in, will they have eaten? I always find this the most awkward, upon arrival after a few hours of travel, I'm usually hungry. If it's after traditional mealtime, the folks who are "home" May have already eaten while I (who will avoid airport food at all cost) will be ravenous. It would be hospitable to have at least heavy apps, perhaps a flatbread, sandwich or a pot of soup simmering. Something that would be just as good a day later if they are not hungry, like me. Sounds like you are already a great host but the other suggestions of olive and cheese trays is spot on. Nothing like weekend guests to let you chill out, relax, nibble, sip and enjoy each other's company!

                        1. I was the happiest guest when my host, a non coffee drinker, had coffee, sugar, and creamer for me in the morning. It was so thoughtful as I knew they weren't coffee drinkers, but had gone out and purchased some. I was so happy not to have to run out at 7am. (I am not right until I have some coffee). Also, they placed mini water bottles on my nightstand. That was also super kind. Sometimes, I get thirsty in the middle of the night, and don't feel like rooting around a dark unfamiliar house.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sunangelmb

                            I'm a real addict. If I'm going to a destination where coffee isn't drunk, I take a tiny espresso pot and a stash.

                          2. I have kept a "Guest Likes and Dislikes" list for as long as I can remember. We have frequent houseguests, some with allergies and others with marked preferences. For me, it is simple to check my list for "likes" and they range all over the board. One guest liked to have cold, sliced liver on hand for snacking at all hours and this is something I would have never have thought to stock! It was simple to accomodate her request, especially since there is a fridge in the small kitchenette for guests. Another wanted specific energy bars and cold apples available. We always have butter, English muffins & bagels with jams, cheese, fruit and meats in their fridge for snacks. Coffee, teas, waters, soda, wine and beers are also stocked.

                            Downstairs, I try to have a soup of some kind in the main fridge as well as a quick throw-together meal if they arrive ravenous. There are always several varieties of nuts, different fruits, crackers and 'snacky' foods available. Most of our guests try to be accomodating and tell me they "eat everything". Many years of experience has taught me that *nobody* eats everything. There will be some hated food, likely the one I have chose for the first dinner at home. I hit the trifecta early on with a very amenable guest who told me she eats everything. Everything, that is, but what was on our dinner table that night -- ham (no, thank you), mac 'n cheese (I don't eat cheese) and a cheesecake for dessert that was the only dessert she disliked.

                            Today, as our friends age, I have found that most everyone is on some sort of restricted regime - low-carb, low-fat, etc. Knowing in advance what your guests will eat is a huge bonus. It would be sad to make blueberry bread for a low-carb guest. Just ask. It is always enlightening to learn what they like to eat for breakfast *before* the breakfast happens. If they like very strong de-caf coffee, nothing is easier than buying it in advance but really tough to tap dance at the moment without.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Sherri

                              I have to believe that you are having us on. Cold, sliced liver? LMAO.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Terribly true I'm afraid. It did hurt my CH sensitivities but she was very pleased to have it available. As a performer, she felt the need for quick energy and this was her item of choice. Easy to accomodate but not anything I would have *ever* thought of to have for a guest. So far, she's our only liver lover guest.
                                No, I could not bring myself to taste those slabs o'liver. A good (cold) pate - certainly, but not these babies.

                              2. re: Sherri

                                <<Today, as our friends age>>

                                the worst part of that is that it seems that i've aged too.

                              3. Anything you can stuff in a quart-size Mason jar. With my pedestrian crowd, that can be jerky, Goldfish, M&M's and so on. I think it lessens the "raiding" feeling, and I point out that there's water and such in the icebox and booze on the counter. And always, as you say, "Help yourself to anything."

                                1. thank you, everyone who has responded to this. So many thoughtful suggestions.
                                  We have visitors frequently, and our condo building has a guest room on a separate floor from our own unit. Into the guest room I put a water carafe and glasses, along with the towels and tissues. Have never thought to add snacks! (Obviously I'm not hospitable enough)
                                  But upstairs, in our own apartment, I set out fresh whole fruit. I make sure that the coffee and tea are on the counter for the morning. Also, we do try to ensure that the fridge is not "booby-trapped" with random unstable stacks of containers. haha. And that beverages are grouped in a logical place.

                                  1. A good quality bread, cheese, pate, jams used for a light snack or breakfast in the morning. Orange juice good quality for the morning, a plate of fresh fruit would be good to have on hand.

                                    1. If you're eating two meals out and they're only there for two days, there probably won't need to be a lot of extra nibbling. I'd just give them free reign of the pantry/fridge while they're there and make sure to have some packaged or easy-to-eat snackfoods handy (breaking open larger packets of food in someone else's home feels like invading their privacy - maybe they really needed that food for after you've gone home so you shouldn't be taking it...) but snack packs, multi-packs etc say 'here, help yourself there's plenty to go round!' Maybe put out a basket of assorted snacks on the counter for easy grabbing and have plenty of bottled drinks in the fridge. A fruit bowl is a nice touch if they're healthy eaters, so are individual yoghurts or fruit cups for a healthier nibble.

                                      1. Great suggestions from all...the best one appears to possibly ask what they do or do not like..it might a bit late to ask today, but given the ideas you should have no problem...
                                        Oh....I would like to stop by, and there is not anything I don't like (LOL)...
                                        Enjoy your company!

                                        1. I make homemade dip or ranch dressing and a huge crudités platter when my best friend and her boyfriend come to town. They usually stay two nights. We snack on it it anytime we feel peckish. We like things that don't dry out too much: sugar snap or snow peas, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and raw Vidalia onion. Maybe some celery.

                                          Baked oatmeal is a good breakfast. I like to add blueberries. Egg casseroles or quiche are nice too.

                                          A quick bread is good. We also like to do nuts and cheese.

                                          Depending on how formal you are interactive meals are fun. Depends in what you like.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: melpy

                                            Yes to the egg casserole idea. I make a fake frittata all the time to have on hand for snacking. It's perfect since it tastes good hot, room temperature or even cold. I made one this morning using up bits and pieces of leftovers from the fridge: chopped baked potato, broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, red pepper, shallots, snap peas.

                                            Saute all the veggies then dump into an oven-safe baking dish (I would have used a prettier dish if I'd known that I'd be posting this photo!), then pour over a mix of eggs, cheese (I used up a variety of little scraps of cheeses that had been accumulating in my fridge), milk, sherry, salt and pepper. I'm lazy so I generally just mix all of the pour-over ingredients in a blender.

                                            Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes or until the center is just barely set.

                                            This slices very nicely and I often put small squares with a toothpick on a plate for appetizers or a larger piece serves as a hearty snack any time of day.

                                            Also it is strawberry season where I live, so I made the strawberry bread recipe from Saveur: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                                          2. All great suggestions. I would love to be a guest in your house! :)

                                            The only thing I would suggest is some kind of savory chip/dip combo like hummus & pita chips. That would be more popular with my friends than sweeter nibbles like muffins. Smitten Kitchen's Ethereally Smooth Hummus recipe is a lot of work but it's superior stuff.

                                            A non food suggestion would be to leave some hall lights on at night or put night lights in the hallways. I always do this for guests after spending the night in my sister's new house. Stumbling around an unfamiliar house in total darkness is not fun. ;)

                                            1. Another nice thing to have around is a whole roasted chicken. Maybe some side salads....picnic style. They can munch on a piece, have a sandwich, make a salad.

                                              1. Just a few ideas

                                                Early morning with coffee or tea
                                                Coffee Cake
                                                Blueberry muffins

                                                Soft pretzels with mustard sauce
                                                Charcuterie tray
                                                Cheese plate with bread and wine

                                                Snacks and Munchies
                                                Popcorn mix
                                                Trail Mix
                                                chips and dips
                                                hummus and pita

                                                1. This bread uses the entire orange.

                                                  ORANGE BREAD. Process in Cuisinart 1/3 cup soft butter, 1 large egg, 3/4 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 3 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1 whole unpeeled navel orange, cut up. When everything is pureed, add 3 cups flour and briefly pulse just to mix. (If you want to add nuts, keep out 1/2 cup of the flour and mix it with nuts, raisins, dates, or dried cranberries so they won't sink.) Bake about 45-60 minutes depending on the pan you use, at 350*. When cool, wrap securely in foil and wait 24 hours before slicing. Good plain but makes wonderful toast.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. While I would love to eat all of these foods that people are mentioning, most people I know wouldn't enjoy things,like dried fruit, chickpeas, teas, and olives. I would consider typical foods they might eat. My husband's family would love chips, soda and junk. My mom's side would love things like fruit, nuts, cocktail tomatoes, etc...I'm just saying that you should find out what they like.

                                                    1. My go-to item for folks staying over for breakfast is pecan waffles or pancakes. I make a few toppings in advance and then serve them whenever people want. I live in the mountains and you might be amazed at how many "early risers" sleep late at 8500 feet! Oh, and I always have good coffee and tea (hot or iced).

                                                      A few bottles of nice wine (price is not important) go a long way, too.

                                                      1. You have so many great suggestions here. I agree with the charcuterie, cheese, nuts platter idea. My favorite type of meal is an "un meal" platter of these type of items with a few marinated veggies or spreads (tapenade, chutney, Branston pickle...)

                                                        My only addition that I don't think has been mentioned would be a nice chicken salad made in advance. It could be nice served on greens with rolls, can make easy sandwiches or even served on a platter with crackers or sliced baguette during cocktails.

                                                        It would be great for you to write back after the weekend to let us know how it went!


                                                        1. This thread is mostly about having sweets and snacks on hand for guests but the heading reminded me of something else. One summer when I was expecting one set of out-of-town company after another, I cooked an enormous vat of Cuban-style black beans and froze them in pints. When I needed to get a dinner out in a hurry I thawed the requisite number of pints and had black beans, rice, and some kind of meat from oven or grill, and a salad with plenty of avocados, and garlic toast, for a quick Cuban dinner. All guests that summer got Cuban food.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                            That sounds delicious! What a great idea. Do you have a particular recipe that you prefer? Thank you.

                                                          2. UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions. I ended up getting sick the day I was planning to bake the bread, and I ended up scrambling at the last minute to get some cheese/salami/crackers/hummus/veggies/nuts, for their late arrival.

                                                            They ended up coming directly from the airport and appreciated the food waiting for them (as they had not eaten).

                                                            I also had bottled water in their room and in the pantry and fresh fruit on hand on the kitchen counter - but it was overkill and not used. I would, however, do the same thing for other guests in the future and now have a no-nonsense go-to plan for the future!

                                                            Thank you!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: The Oracle

                                                              Thanks for the update- glad all went well! Hope you feel better soon.

                                                              1. re: The Oracle

                                                                Sorry to hear you got sick at the last minute, but I'm glad to hear you were still able to pull something together for them. Even if they didn't need the fruit or the bottled water, I think it's nice to provide it. I've always provided a basket with fresh towels and spare toiletry items (spare toothbrushes and mini tubes of toothpaste etc.) for guests "just in case" but I think I will add some bottle water and fruit to that in the future. What a nice idea! Even with your dearest friends and family, it can sometimes be awkward to feel like you need some comfort item but have to ask for it. And, as a host, sometimes you don't always remember to say --even when you intend to--something like, "There's cheese-sticks in the meat/cheese drawer and fruit in the crisper, help yourself."