One of my favorite things to do in college is making dinner with friends. Frugal and fun cooking with friends is the perfect way to spend a weeknight in or to ring in the newest episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yeah, I’ll admit it). But dinner parties can go downhill if people don’t pony up the cash to pay back the cook, or don’t help cleaning up. That is why I’m a huge fan of the potluck dinner. With potlucks, everyone is responsible for bringing a dish, preventing anyone from feeling like they’ve made more effort than others, and it’s a great way to show off your culinary skills. With that said, there are some guidelines you need to set to ensure a positively perfect potluck.
1. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET: Before anything, establish a per-dish budget for the potluck, and make sure everyone is comfortable with it. Usually I find $8-10/dish is a good price point for the college student.
2. Assign courses: Remember in elementary school at Christmas parties when somehow everyone brought 400 plates of cupcakes or 5,000 bags of chips and salsa? Well, at potlucks it completely defeats the purpose of a potluck if everyone brings the same item. To avoid this, assign different courses to friends, and stick to it.
3. Create a theme: How about Mexican Mondays, Southern Saturdays or Thai Tuesdays? Themes are a great way to experiment in the kitchen and ensure that all the dishes work perfectly together.
4. Make sure it is a team effort: This applies mostly for after the meal. Make sure everyone pitches in a cleans up. Not only will it cut down on cleanup time, but it prevents any one friend from being stuck with a pile of dishes at the end of the night.
5. Keep it small: More people complicates everything. So just keep it simple, and small (about 4-5 people)