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Originally Published July 3, 2020. Updated on June 28, 2023.
Are you planning a small shindig for the 4th of July?
Consider some of these make-ahead food ideas for 4th of July entertaining. Making some of the food up to a week before the big day will enable you to relax and enjoy yourself.
Make a Budget
Begin by creating a budget for your event. Choose which foods you will serve and decide which ones can be prepared beforehand. Try to determine a schedule to begin making the food so you have very little to do the actual day of the fourth.
Get the Meat Ready (If On the Menu)
Pre-marinade any meats you will grill. This will infuse the meat with the flavors of the marinade. You can also use different types of soaked wood chips to give the food more flavor.
Direct Your Guest Contributions
If guests will be bringing items to the party, you may want to ask them to provide beverages and desserts. This will allow you to be in charge of both the main dishes and vegetables. This way you can ensure that the foods are kept at the correct temperature for safety for the party-goers to enjoy.
Stay Safe — Refrigerate!
Potato salad, coleslaw, and deviled eggs are made with mayonnaise and eggs and are common 4th of July fare. If you choose to make these, prepare them a day ahead of time and keep them refrigerated until right before the meal. Once everyone has had their fill, pop them back into the refrigerator.
Other salads that can be made without eggs or mayonnaise would be better options. Three bean salad, pasta salad, non-dairy salad dressings for a tossed salad, and gelatin salads are some foods to consider.
Try Dairy-Less Desserts
For dessert, rather than having something made with dairy products, try fried fruit pies. These can be made several days in advance, kept in the refrigerator, and then reheated on the day of. You can also make homemade ice cream during the meal to serve with the fried pies for dessert.
Take the necessary precautions to ensure the food being served is kept hot or cold as needed. The danger zone for food is between 40 and 140 degrees. If cold foods get above 40 degrees bacteria which can cause food poisoning may begin forming. The same is true if hot foods fall below 140 degrees.
When planning 4th of July entertainment, make as much food ahead of time as you can. Do more before the event so you will have more time to enjoy the festivities, the food, and the guests.
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