5 Tips for Being a Helpful Houseguest Slideshow

1. Pack a Meal

Make a dish before you leave town. Pack it in good Tupperware and stow it in a tote. This can be a baked chicken that keeps and reheats well, without requiring the oven to be on for hours upon arrival. Or grilled vegetables and pesto on baguette is a great option for a picnic in the car en route. It could be quick bread or muffins for breakfast. It could be cookies. But while sweets double as a hostess gift, they don’t necessarily count as a meal. When you bring a fully made meal, you prevent group decision-making and shopping. You can buy the ingredients at a store you’re used to and where you know where the bargains are. Plus, you’ve got your pantry and your tools to cook with. And no friends hanging around to distract you. People will be really happy to sit down to a whole meal, especially after a long trip.


Portable Recipes to Try: Chicken MarbellaAncho Chicken Sandwiches with Avocado and Chipotle Mayonnaise“Forgotten” Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

2. Delegate the Meat

We’re forward-thinking, modern women, but we’re able to admit the truth in some gender stereotypes. Which is why we say: Grill for dinner, and put the dudes in charge. They’ll shop, marinate the meat (which they’ve spent more money on than you would have), light up the barbecue, all with great enthusiasm and pride. The meat will be good, genuinely really good. This may not have been the case if you tried to delegate say, the salad. While the guys are grilling, everyone else can make sides: bread, corn, salad, pasta — whatever.


Recipes to Try: Guinness-Marinated SteakCarne Asada with Chipotle Mango SalsaMan BurgersTurkey Burgers; Mediterranean Lamb Burgers.

3. Keep the Snacks Simple

Guacamole is the most delicious summer snack food. It’s so easy to make and everyone likes it. We think we have the best recipe. Granted, if you make it in a group, you’ll find that everyone thinks that. But since you can’t mess up guacamole (with the exception of using unripe avocados… Don’t do that), that’s an acceptable delusion. One guy Cara spent a weekend with sprinkled dried cumin in his guac. She was skeptical, but it was great. And the best part of guacamole is that it’s a unifier. It’s vegetarian, not unhealthful, and satisfying. All you need for completion are tortilla chips, and maybe some carrot sticks for dipping. You don’t need any other snacks around at all if you have enough chips and guacamole, though we do allow for a purchased salsa or two. This preserves focus at the grocery store, and it saves money.

4. Take Control of One Meal

Breakfast may be the best meal to take complete control of, especially if you’re an early riser — or are relegated to sleeping on the couch by the kitchen. No one cares exactly when it happens, and people tend to be much less picky about how it happens. You can spend a nice quiet 45 minutes in the kitchen before anyone gets up, which can be a nice pause in a weekend full of people, drinking, and fun.

Recipe: Breakfast Burrito BuffetYogurt Pancakes; Spinach Hash Browns.

5. Find the Cleaner-Uppers

There’s not much worse than waking up after a night of boozing by the pool to find browning guacamole on the dishes that are scattered all over. In a given group, there will be people with high guilt reflexes. These are the people you need to locate. Make one tiny reference to the fact that you’ve done all the cooking and they’ll jump on the chance to clean. Suddenly, you’re no longer in charge. Bring in a few plates from the table, ask if you can do anything to help, but you’re no longer the one responsible. However, if it’s the host who gets stuck spearheading the clean-up, our morality says you do need to get back on the bandwagon, pick up a broom, and get moving.