3 simple lunch menus for easy al-fresco entertaining

3 simple lunch menus for easy al-fresco entertaining

Spend less time slaving over the stove and more time socialising with your loved ones by using our effortless ideas…

Spend less time slaving over the stove and more time socialising with your loved ones by using our effortless ideas…

With the bank holidays and half term coming up, it’s the perfect excuse to get the family round for lunch.

Unfortunately, you can end up spending so long cooking and cleaning that it ends up eating into the precious time you have to spend together.

So instead of going all out to impress with your culinary excellence, focus on the family instead with these simple menu ideas…

1. A Mexican menu

Much of this can be made in advance, and the flavours will develop the longer you leave it. This means you can spend longer with your nearest and dearest, and still serve a tasty lunch.

For starters, go for classic guacamole and salsa with tortilla chips. Mix tomatoes, red onion, coriander and chilli to make salsa, and put it in the fridge until you need it. Just before serving, finish it with olive oil and a squeeze of lime.

Guacamole needs to be made just before your guests arrive, otherwise it can turn an unappetising brown. Add red onion, tomato, garlic and lime to chopped avocado, and mix thoroughly.

Tacos make a fun main dish – the grandkids will love putting them together, and it’s less work for you – bonus! Fry some mince with onion, peppers, garlic, chilli, cumin and paprika – you can do this the day before. Then serve up with taco shells, iceberg lettuce, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

Churros are a classical Mexican dessert, but can be time consuming to make, so stock up on doughnuts for the family to dip into chocolate sauce. Make this by gently warming chocolate until melted and mixing with cream.

2. A Middle Eastern menu

Flatbreads and dips make a fuss-free starter that people can help themselves to over drinks. The dips can be made in advance too (or bought readymade!).

Whizz chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and cumin in a food processer to make houmous. Roast aubergines and mix with garlic, tahini, cumin and chilli for baba ganoush. For tzatziki, add chopped cucumber to yoghurt along with mint and salt.

Slow-roast lamb is a main course that you can shove in the oven and forget about until you’re ready to eat. Rub it with ras-el-hanout before it goes in for some Middle Eastern flavour. Serve with couscous, roasted peppers and salad.

For dessert, slice figs, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and put in the oven as you serve the main course. Remove once you’ve eaten and allow to cool, then serve with honey and ice cream.

3. An Italian menu

Put out some antipasti for people to nibble on with their drinks – think olives, artichokes and charcuterie. There’s no cooking involved, all you need to do is plate it up.

For a fun main, get the grandkids involved in making their own pizzas. Chop up a choice of toppings in advance and let them pile their choices onto bases (shop-bought or made the night before) before putting them in the oven. They can take orders for their parents too.

Make tiramisu for pudding the night before by dipping sponge fingers in coffee and layering with a mix of whipped cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract. Allow to chill overnight, then dust with cocoa powder before serving. Delicious.

As well as making the menus easy, you can cut down on your cleaning time too by using the new Flash Ultra Power Spray, which makes managing the mess an absolute doddle. It packs a powerful punch, removing up to 100% of dirt, grease and grime from almost any hard surface in your home. Done!

What’s your favourite family lunch menu? Let us know in the comments below.

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