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Return of the Potluck

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Recently we were talking about how as the family grows it is harder to feed everyone at one person’s house and going out is simply out of the budget.  The last time we went out,  there was a whole kerfuffle of who was paying for what and by the time the it was all sorted it took half an hour of uncomfortableness. Not exactly fun after a nice meal, so I suggested the next time we get together to have a potluck.

Apparently potlucks are not the done thing in the UK so I was looking at a lot of blank faces.  I then explained that a potluck is a a meal where every body brings something to take the pressure, financial and cooking, off the host.  Americans have been having potlucks forever. They seems especially popular in church groups.

My mother has a group of ladies that come over to sew at her house and they all bring a dish.  The way they work it is one person brings soup, another salad, and my Mom does some baking, she is a great dessert maker.

A bbq lends itself particularly well to a potluck – the host decides be what they are providing then they arrange with each guest what they are bringing.  It is vital to be organized with your guests or you will end up with 3 people bringing bread and have no meat.  I would have a couple of people bring different meats to spread the cost.  The host must be specific in what they would like their guests to bring to ensure variety and a good spread.

Potlucks are not only for fair weather.  It is lovely to gather people at your home, each bringing a covered dish and since most everyone has a microwave it is easy to heat things up in a flash.  I love making a stew in the slow cooker and having people bring side dishes and dessert.  I am not the baker my mother is.

Themed potlucks are super fun.  You give your guests a theme, and only ask them to bring either a side dish, salad or desert and let them use their imagination.  I would only do this if I am sure that my guests are fairly good cooks and will be willing to do some thinking and not just pick something up at the supermarket.

With the recession continuing, it seems that socializing is something that gets cut from the budget early on, but if you do more home entertaining and spread the cost and the work, you can still have a social life.

What are your experiences, good or bad, with potlucks?  Have you had a disaster of guests only bringing alcohol and no food?  Drop me a comment and tell your story.


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