The perfect recipe for a fun Memorial Day get-together? Good friends, tasty food, and a relaxed host. While we can’t help you with your guest list, we can help you out with the latter two components with this suggestion: preparing some of your food ahead of time and freezing it will go a long way to being able to relax and enjoy your own party, knowing that much of the work has been done already.
Remember to portion out foods so you can prevent food waste and use the exact amount you need. And once thawed, be sure to rinse out and recycle plastic bags, aluminum foil, and any other wrappings when you can! If you’re using plastic bags, these can be recycled when clean and dry wherever plastic grocery bags are accepted. There are thousands of drop-off locations, so finding one near you should be a snap.
Get started now by preparing some of the following dishes, then just start thawing them in the fridge the night before so they’ll be ready to finish and serve the day of.
- Baked beans: This potluck staple takes a while to make from scratch, but the results are so much tastier than their canned counterparts. If you make them ahead of time, cook them until the beans are still a little firm, then cool completely. Then spoon the beans and their cooking liquid into a freezer bag, press out any extra air as you seal it, and freeze it until needed (be sure to date and label the bag!). You can reheat in a pot on the stove or in the slow cooker.
- Marinated chicken: Your chicken will be all seasoned and ready to throw on the grill if you pop breasts or thighs into the freezer along with a zesty marinade. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and it’s ready to grill or bake in the oven.
- Burger and hot dog buns: Won’t your guests be impressed if you offer up homemade burger and hot dog buns? They’re a bit of work, but you can always make them when you have time, then wrap the cooled buns individually in aluminum foil and bag them all together in the freezer. Thaw them on the counter in their packaging, or you can speed up the process by warming them in a low-heat oven.
- Dips: Creamy dips, especially ones that are heated, can be mixed up ahead of time and frozen right in their crock. Try this spinach artichoke dip. For best results, use full-fat cream cheese and other cheeses. You can even add a little heavy cream to the mixture to preserve the creaminess and prevent it from getting crumbly. Thaw them overnight then bake according to directions. If there’s separation, a little stir can integrate it all again
- Pie: Nothing’s more American than apple pie served up at your Memorial Day party. Have one on hand to serve by making it in advance and freezing in a plastic bag (you can even pop off the pie pan once it’s frozen if you need it for other things). Thaw it first before baking for the best texture.