5 Tips for Being a Helpful Houseguest

How guests that love to cook (and want to eat well) can lend a hand on weekends away

Entertaining outdoors

In summer and in winter — but especially in summer — there are those weekends best spent out of the city. We may not always be able to afford nice rentals or great B&B’s, but we can play the good guest when invited to a friend’s (or friend’s parents’) house for the weekend. One of the best parts of the two days away has got to be the cooking. Unless we’ve wound up in the most rustic little Catskills cottage, cooking in a house kitchen is a pleasant change of pace from the apartment galley kitchens we’re used to in the city. But the challenges of cooking for a group on a getaway are many. There are a lot of mouths to feed. There are no bodegas on the corner. There’s more planning and less reliable equipment. There may not be a fully-stocked pantry (but there is probably an outdoor charcoal grill). There are expensive trips to the grocery store. And, perhaps worst of all, there are hungry friends, hovering around, who, in spite of varying levels of kitchen prowess, may want to “help” cook.

Click here to see the 5 Tips for Being a Helpful Houseguest Slideshow.

As cooks, even if we’re not hosting, there’s a part of us that wants to be the CEOs of the weekend’s meal plan. We want to eat well, spend some time stirring and sautéing, and perhaps cook some locally-sourced ingredients or something simple that everyone loves. But we also don’t want to slave away during our two days of relaxation — we are vacationing, after all. And we certainly don’t want to spend a fortune! To have fun, our proprietary instincts must be diffused a little, our grip on the menus ever so slightly loosened. We’ve perfected a strategy, honed at weekends at friends’ houses during college and at summertime getaways in the three summers since we’ve graduated school. It’s not a plan to follow strictly, but it does have a couple crucial bullet points we’d like to elaborate on.

Click here to see the 5 Tips for Being a Helpful Houseguest Slideshow.


Big Girls Small Kitchen is a food website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens founded by The Quarter-Life Cooks, Phoebe Lapine and Cara Eisenpress. They are also the authors of In the Small Kitchen.