There are many ways to plan menus. One way to plan a menu is to visualize the plate. A colorful plate is appetizing and pleasing to your diners - meat and/or chicken or fish, a brown/beige starch, a green vegetable, a red/orange side dish, a cold colorful side salad. When someone sees color popping off the plate in contrast with favorite dishes that are not necessarily colorful – it enhances the anticipation of the taste and flavors in store. I like to see a balance of color on a plate. There is nothing more unappetizing than a plate of brown, colorless dishes. The bad part is that often the dishes are delicious and tasty there is just no excitement in the visual part of the dish.
It is also nice to plan a menu by starting with a dish or two that one knows their guest likes. For example, if you are having adventurous eaters or traditional food eaters? Are there a lot of children or more sophisticated adult diners? And then from there either stay with that theme or go for contrasts.
My mom always starts with dessert! She is a great dessert maker and loves sweets! I always find this amusing and what makes us a good team – I usually run out of steam when I get to thinking about dessert! Not Mom – she thinks of a sweet treat that she is having a craving for! She even balances dessert – a chocolate and a fruit – something cold and some cake, a pickup cookie and a dessert treat.”
Other ideas to start a menu:
- a spice
- a seasonal ingredient
- an ethnic dish
- an exotic flavor
- traditional for the time period