Welcome guests with meals featuring the season's best fare and no-cook options to keep you free from the kitchen.
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Here's a game plan for a couple of kicked-back days. With Friday and Saturday night's menus planned, follow our breakfast, lunch, and snack suggestions to keep the gang nourished and satisfied all weekend long without having to spend time cooking at every meal.

Plan a Satisfying Breakfast
Start the day with a meal outdoors, and offer tempting breakfast items guests can serve themselves. Bowls of crunchy, nutty muesli with ice-cold milk or tangy yogurt drizzled with honey need no preparation.

For a savory, equally simple breakfast, cut thick slices of rustic whole-grain bread to serve with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Top bread with part-skim ricotta cheese and juicy tomato slices for a hearty start.

For another self-service option, set the table with a toaster, a loaf of whole wheat bread, smoked salmon, butter, cream cheese, and lemon wedges. These simple ingredients look impressive, taste divine, and require nothing more than opening a few packages. (No matter what you serve for breakfast, don't forget the fresh fruit-buy it precut at the supermarket-and offer pots of coffee and tea.)

Picnic Pointers
At lunchtime, enjoy the scenery outdoors with a flavor-packed picnic. Choose no-prep ingredients, such as fresh figs, wafer-thin prosciutto slices, a wedge of pecorino Romano cheese, assorted olives, bottled roasted red bell peppers, grissini (breadsticks) purchased from the supermarket, and a selection of grapes. Pack foods separately in resealable plastic containers to avoid bruising delicate items. Fill a thermos with iced tea or apple cider to round out your lunch.

And Don't Forget Snacks
Guests will want some nibbles between meals, too, especially if you've planned an active weekend. Apples, pears, flatbreads, nuts, and cheeses laid out on a wooden board invite self-service anytime. Other options include popcorn, peanut butter-filled celery sticks, or hard-cooked eggs drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper.

With our plan, it's easy to host a weekend house party for friends-and do it in style.

Travel Tips

  • If your group is meeting at a lake house or cabin, make a list of the items you'll need in order to avoid repeated trips to the mini-market. Call your lodging's caretaker to learn which household and kitchen items are on site. Many rentals are equipped with cutting boards, blenders, and so on.
  • You'll need a grill for several of these recipes, so if one isn't available, take a charcoal grill. Don't forget to pick up a sack of charcoal, matches, foil, and grilling utensils.
  • You'll need a blender and strainer for the Fresh Ginger Beer, plus a baking dish for the Corn Pudding. And don't forget the cooking spray for easy cleanup. Grab a couple bags of ice, too.
  • If you can't stir without your favorite spoon, or if a dish just won't taste right without a dash from your black pepper grinder, by all means bring them along. For many cooks, a favorite chef's knife, mini-whisk, or good balsamic vinegar are a must.
  • Pack plastic disposable containers with lids to store leftovers or to take picnic food.
  • Bamboo torches illuminate the night, and citronella candles discourage the season's last mosquitoes. Music lovers: Grab your portable stereo.