Entertaining

10 Pantry Items for Entertaining in a Pinch

Never be caught off guard again
Staples for Last-Minute Entertaining
Photo: Tasting Table

When it comes to entertaining, we always try to plan ahead. But every once in a while, we're caught off guard. Out-of-town friends unexpectedly swing by, and we often forget it's our turn to host Sunday dinner. Avoid these conundrums by stocking your pantry, fridge and freezer with the right essentials, and, trust us, you'll be able to make a satisfying, dinner party-worthy meal with just about anything.

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Along with these key staples, it's a great idea to start collecting basic spices, vinegars and oils, such as garlic cloves, onion powder, crushed red pepper, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. These seasonings can help elevate any dish.

Pantry

① Pasta

Pasta is easy, delicious and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, so make sure to keep a few boxes of your favorite tucked away at all times.

② Store-Bought Tomato Sauce

We know you swore you'd never eat anything other than homemade tomato sauce. However, the premade version can be a pretty great alternative when your guests are arriving in 10 minutes. Make it your own by adding additional spices and herbs if you have them on hand. 

③ Crackers & Jam

Need something to keep your guests occupied while you finish dinner? Crack open a jar of jam and serve it alongside your favorite crackers. Or, if you happen to have a wedge of Brie in the fridge, heat it up and top it with jam for an elegant but stress-free appetizer.

④ Nuts

Mixed nuts are the perfect addition to any cheese plate. You can also crush them up and sprinkle them on a salad or vegetable side dish for an extra-crunchy kick. 

⑤ Wine

You can never go wrong by stocking your liquor cabinet with a few good bottles of red and white wine.

Fridge

⑥ Cheese

This crowd-pleaser can be utilized in a variety of ways: Serve it as an appetizer with jam and crackers, grate it over pasta, or dice it up and throw it into a salad.

⑦ Lettuce

No need to fret over a fancy salad. A simple mixture of greens tossed with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper will do the trick. And if you happen have some additional vegetables or cheese on hand, even better.

⑧ A Fresh Vegetable

Keeping one or two fresh vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts in the larder will open a door of recipe possibilities. Roast them for a simple side or incorporate them into a salad for extra texture and flavor.

Freezer

⑨ Ravioli

Remove a bag of ravioli from the freezer, drop them into boiling water, and you'll have dinner on the table in no time.

⑩ Ice Cream

This might be the easiest—and tastiest—dessert you'll ever serve. Just grab some bowls and dish out two scoops per person. And depending on the flavor combinations, you can always melt some of that jam you've got stashed away for a sweet finish.

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