5 Tips for Hosting Your Next Super Bowl Party

Buy the right serveware so your food is easy to pass around at a party.
Your serveware is just as important as the food!

Why You Should Entertain at Home

It’s the Super Bowl this weekend and you should have a party.

People don’t entertain in their homes much anymore. Maybe it’s just my experience because I live in NYC and most apartments are the size of generous walk-in closets. However, even before moving here, it was rare that we’d be invited over to a friend’s. Instead, we met for drinks or reserved a table.

But entertaining at home is more personal. You are sharing your private space. You are demonstrating that your guests are worthy of forethought and effort. No waiter is there to serve as a third-party distraction or drop a check signaling that your time is up.

I’m guessing you are now thinking to yourself, YES, that’s exactly why I don’t have people over. Too scary.

However, there is no better time to start than the Super Bowl. The evening’s entertainment is already built in. People don’t have super high expectations about the food. As long as you have cold beer, a few snacks, a comfortable couch (or cushions on the floor), and a TV, you’re set.

Not convinced yet? As a private chef who regularly prepares memorable meals for 15 in just a few hours, and who prides herself on her ability to throw together a last-minute gathering, let me share a few tips on how you can do it and actually have fun in the process.

Here's what a typical What We Eat gathering looks like.
What We Eat knows how to throw a feast.

Party-Hosting Hacks

  1. Plan the right menu. The right menu..
    • Is easy-to-execute. Choose one that can be made almost entirely ahead of time. You should be able to enjoy your party with your guests.
    • Includes components that can be store-bought and/or delegated to friends. Don’t be a hero. Find a prepared foods purveyor you like and use it. When friends ask what they can bring, actually give them something. People like to contribute.
    • Keeps your guests’ preferences in mind. It’s nice to ask if they have any when you extend the invitation just so you make sure everyone feels taken care of. When in doubt, serve a BYO meal (build-your-own). People of all ages enjoy customizing their own dish.
      The fixin’s for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili bowls.
      • Here are several Super Bowl-appropriate easy menus:
        • BYO Chili Bar (easy cooking)
          • Your favorite homemade chili with bowls of full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream, sliced avocado, thinly red onion, pulled store-bought rotisserie chicken (if chili is vegetarian), shredded cheddar, cilantro, baked tortillas strips and/or brown rice, and lime wedges
          • Delegate chips/salsa/guacamole, a simple salad and dessert
        • BYO Sandwich Bar (minimal to no cooking required)
          • Fresh French bread and a selection of high-quality thinly sliced meats and cheeses, store-bought or homemade chicken-salad or egg-salad, shredded romaine, sliced tomatoes and red onions, pickles and/or pickled vegetables, hot peppers, mustard and mayo
          • Delegate potato chips and a fun dip, a simple salad and dessert
        • Antipasto Party (minimal to no cooking required)
          • Cheeses – gorgonzola, Grana Padano, mozzarella and taleggio
          • Meats – salami, mortadella, capicola and prosciutto
          • Grissini, focaccia and crackers
          • Cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber
          • Giardiniera, olives and pepperoncini
          • Grapes and/or sliced apples
          • Marcona almonds and/or pistachios
          • Delegate any of these components and/or dessert
        • Pizza Delivery and Homemade Salads (concentrates all effort on one or two special salads)
  2. Enlist the help of your guests. With the exceptions of doing the dishes, most people like being assigned a duty while at a party. Who doesn’t like a sense of purpose? Good assignments are drink duty (making sure everyone gets a drink quickly and stays topped up), easy chopping and plating of dishes.
  3. Lay out serveware, and set the table or wrap silverware in cloth or paper napkins up to a few days ahead of time. This gets your wheels turning about what you need to do and eliminates any last-minute scramble to find that right dip bowl or platter.
  4. If the clean-up is what stops you from having people over, use disposable stuff. Eco-friendly disposable bamboo plates are an attractive and sturdy choice. It’s nice to use your own flatware but if you don’t have enough, there are plenty of great looking options.
  5. My golden rule: No matter what, always have a drink in hand, candles lit and music on as guests arrive. This signals to your guests that you are relaxed and having fun and they’ll follow suit. Even if I haven’t showered, unpacked the groceries, etc. I’ll do these three things.

Above all else, have faith that your party is going to be awesome. When you invite people over, it’s your responsibility to provide the venue and organize good drinks, food and a little entertainment, whether that’s the game or a solid playlist. It’s your guests’ responsibility to show up and have a good time.

Let this Super Bowl be your gateway into home entertaining for all occasions. Let’s #bringbackthedinnerparty!

DENSITY DIET GROCERY LIST

I have a secret to share: You eat what you buy. Okay, that’s not exactly groundbreaking. However, keeping yourself stocked with nourishing options and leaving junk on supermarket shelves is one of the most powerful ways to improve what you eat. So, this week we’re sharing our Density Diet grocery list.

The Density Diet is our version of a January “cleanse.” It’s a research-based, well-rounded way of eating that you can return to any time of year. Read more about it here and here.

In order to narrow each category down, I’ve put asterisks (*) next to items that you’ll most often find in my kitchen this time of year either because they are seasonal or I consider them staples because they are easy to cook. These items are no better than others nutritionally though so choose what you like.

DENSITY DIET GROCERY LIST

Vegetables

(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh vegetables and frozen-vegetables with no added ingredients are fair game.)

*Arugula

*Avocado

*Beet

*Broccoli

*Brussels sprouts

*Cabbage

*Carrots

*Cauliflower

*Celery

*Cucumber

*Endive

*Fennel

*Ginger

*Herbs – Cilantro, Mint, Basil, Dill, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, etc.

*Kale

*Onions – yellow/red/white, garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions, chives, etc.

*Parsnip

*Potato

*Radicchio

*Radish

*Sweet potato

*Winter squash/Pumpkin

Artichoke

Asparagus

Bell pepper

Bok choy

Broccolini

Celeriac

Collard greens

Eggplant

Fava bean

Jerusalem artichoke

Jícama

Kohlrabi

Lettuces

Rapini (broccoli rabe)

Rutabaga

Snap peas

Snow peas

Spinach

Summer squash/zucchini

Swiss chard

Tomatillo

Tomato

Turnips

Fruit

(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh fruit and dried and frozen fruit with no added ingredients are fair game.)

*Apple

*Banana

*Blueberry

*Lemon

*Lime

*Orange – Blood orange, Clementine, Mandarine, Tangerine, etc.

*Pear

*Pomegranate

*Dried fruit – Currants, Raisins, Cranberries, Dates, etc.

Apricot

Blackberry

Cantaloupe

Cherry

Fig

Grape

Grapefruit

Kiwi

Mango

Melon

Nectarine

Papaya

Peach

Persimmon

Pineapple

Plum

Raspberry

Strawberry

Watermelon

Whole Grains

(This list is non-exhaustive. All whole grains are fair game. Emphasize real whole grains versus products made from them such as whole wheat pastas and bread.)

All dried grains (favor these)

  • *Corn/polenta/popcorn
  • *Farro
  • *Oats
  • *Quinoa
  • *Whole grain rice such as brown, black or wild
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Freekeh
  • Millet
  • Spelt

A few of my favorite real whole grain products (choose more sparingly to get full benefits of whole grains)

  • Food for Like 7 Sprouted Grains Bread (In freezer section of market. Most of their other options are great as well.
  • Mestemacher Breads (I like the Fitness Bread)
  • Sfoglini whole grain pasta options (I’m opting to avoid whole grain pastas while following DD, but if you feel lost without them, Sfolglni’s options are some of my favorite.)
  • If you can’t find the above products, just make sure whole grain flour (i.e. whole wheat flour, whole oat flour, etc.) is the first ingredient listed on the nutrition panel. Also look for high fiber, low sodium, and low sugar.

Beans and Legumes

(This list is non-exhaustive. All dried and canned beans and lentils are fair game. Full disclosure: I most often use canned beans for ease. Cooking from scratch produces the most delicious bean but I rarely have the forethought.)

*Lentils (Beluga, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, all Dals, Puy, etc. – most of these take 20-30 minutes to cook, so I most often buy dried)

*Black

*Borlotti/cranberry

*Cannellini

*Chickpeas (my most frequent go-to)

*Butter beans

Navy

Pinto

Kidney

Nuts and Seeds

(This list is non-exhaustive. All shelled and unshelled nuts and seeds, raw or roasted and nut butters are fair-game. Look for no added sugar, no added oils. Store opened packages of nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.)

*Almonds

*Hazelnuts

*Peanuts

*Pecans

*Pine nuts

*Pumpkin seeds/pepitas

*Sesame seeds

*Walnuts

*Almond butter

*Peanut butter

*Tahini

Seafood, Poultry, Pork, Dairy, Eggs

(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh and frozen fish, shellfish and canned seafood is fair game. All lean cuts of poultry and pork are fair game. All plain dairy is fair game. I prefer 2% or whole yogurts and some research suggests choosing these over non-fat alternatives is advantageous. Read about that here.)

*Salmon

*Canned tuna (I absolutely love oil-packed tuna. Tonnino is my go-to brand. Long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Chicken – breasts (bone-in or out), legs, thighs, etc.

*Pork loin and tenderloin

*Eggs

*Milk, plain

*Plain yogurt, regular or Greek

*Edamame (I typically keep pre-shelled frozen on hand.)

*Tofu (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Tempeh (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Miso (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

Tuna

Cod

Halibut

Shrimp

Lobster

Crab

Canned salmon

Smoked fish

Cottage cheese

Condiments/flavorings

(This list is non-exhaustive.)

*Extra virgin olive oil

*Flavorful nut and seed oils for salad dressings and stir-fry seasonings: toasted sesame oil, walnut oil

*Vinegars: balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, apple cider, etc.

*Olives (Kalamata, green, etc.), pickles and capers

*Asian condiments and flavorings: reduced-sodium soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce, curry paste

*Kosher salt, Maldon salt for finishing

Black peppercorns

*Dry herbs and spices

Beverages

*Water and seltzers

*Tea

*Coffee

*Milk or non-dairy milks

Check out our Instagram and Facebook accounts for #densitydiet meal ideas. We’ll continue to provide more information here as well.

Are you following the Density Diet? How is it going and how do you feel? We’d love to hear from you!