Nothing gets you in the mood for the impending holiday season more than hosting your own fall dinner party. Having a get together at your home does come with a bit of work, though. You have to send out the invitations (or Facebook invites), decorate the house (so many pumpkins), make a playlist, get drinks, and of course, plan your menu for the evening. After all, food is arguably the most memorable part of a party. You’re going to want to keep the produce that is currently in season in mind, make sure you have more than enough for your guests (especially for second rounds), and pick a variety of dishes for a range of tastes. While you can certainly cook an entire dinner menu from scratch for your guests, if you are feeling overwhelmed or want to relax before your party, you may benefit from investing in some readymade or easy-to-make dishes that simply need to be heated and served. From bread rolls, soups, and salads to main dishes, sides, and desserts, this list has everything you need for a delicious (and seasonally appropriate party). Use all 18 for a fuss-free and festive event or mix and match these products with some homemade dishes to cut corners and save some time.
Pure Abundance Cashew Cheese
What is a dinner party without some cheese to enjoy with wine and crackers before dinner? Pure Abundance Cashew Cheese is a soy-free and gluten-free artisan cheese. According to Pure Abundance, this cheese is cultured and aged just like the regular dairy variety. It is also coated in organic basil, parsley, and thyme. As for how to use this cheese, Pure Abundance suggests the following: spreading it on a cracker, crumbling it onto a salad, pairing it with fresh figs, or adding it to a baked potato. Reviewers are saying that this product is tasty and is “just like real cheese.” Since this is an artisan product handmade in small batches it’s on the expensive side, with each cheese in this four-pack costing $13.25 for a total of $53.
Schar Ciabatta Rolls
For an egg-free and dairy-free bread that simply needs to be heated in the oven before serving, check out Schar Ciabatta Rolls. This gluten-free bread is made with water, corn starch, corn flour, rice flour, psyllium seed husks (vegetable fiber), dextrose, modified cellulose, sunflower oil, soy protein, yeast, salt, apple fiber, tartaric acid, citric acid, calcium citrate, niacin, iron, thiamine, and riboflavin. Reviewers are saying that this bread is delicious, “tastes just like regular yeast bread,” is fluffy on the inside and great for making garlic bread. A handful of reviewers even called this ciabatta the “best gluten-free bread on the market.” To see if you feel the same, you can get a pack of six, seven-ounce packages for $34.
Chebe Focaccia Bread
If you have a little bit more time to spare, check out Chebe Bread Focaccia Mix. It’s lactose, casein, and yeast free. It also does not contain any soy, potato, corn, rice, tree nuts, or peanuts. To make this bread you simply have to add an egg replacer, milk, and a bit of oil, knead, and then pop it into the oven. As reviewers report, this mix is very versatile. Reviewers have used this mix not only for focaccia bread, but for pizza crusts, bread sticks, and savory turnovers. One reviewer used coconut milk and rice milk for the liquid and confirms that non-dairy milk can be used for this mix. You can get eight 7.5-ounce bags for about $27.
Zest Basil Pesto
Speaking of bread, instead of laying out a plate of olive oil for your guests to dip bread in, how about wowing them with some dairy-free pesto! While most pestos on the market include Parmesan cheese, Zest Basil Pesto does not. Instead it is made with vegetable oil, Brazil nuts, basil, white wine vinegar, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, garlic, salt, apple juice concentrate, black pepper, toasted sesame oil, and chili. Reviewers are reporting that this pesto is “delicious and complex,” nutty, salty, and spicy, and worth the price. If you feel yourself craving the more pronounced cheesy flavor regular pesto provides, you can always add non-dairy cheese, as some reviewers did. You can get one six-ounce jar for $9.
Imagine Foods Sweet Potato Soup
Nothing says Autumn has arrived quite like a bowl of creamy sweet potato soup. Imagine Foods Sweet Potato Soup is made from filtered water, organic sweet potatoes, organic potatoes, organic rice syrup, organic carrots, sea salt, organic oil (canola, safflower, or sunflower), and organic ginger. It is gluten-free and non-GMO. Reviewers are reporting that this soup is deliciously addicting and very creamy. That being said, almost all of the reviewers added something to the soup, be it cinnamon, brown sugar, or butter. If you’d like to put your own spin on this soup or see if you like it as is, you can get one 32-ounce box for $4.75.
Boulder Organic! Garden Minestrone Soup
Boulder Organic! Garden Minestrone Soup is a non-GMO and gluten-free soup made with filtered water, and the following organic ingredients: tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, carrots, onions, peas, zucchini, tomato paste, vegetable broth, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, spices, and potato starch. Each eight-ounce serving (three servings per container) provides three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, 50 percent of your daily vitamin A, 30 percent of your vitamin C, eight percent of your ion, and four percent for calcium. Reviewers are saying that this product is very flavorful (lots of chunky vegetables), tastes homemade, and is healthy. To try it out, you can get one 24-ounce tub for $5.
Betty Crocker Suddenly Grain Salad
Prepare a salad in seconds with Betty Crocker Suddenly Grain Salad. This salad contains brown rice, sweetened cranberries, almond pieces, whole grain quinoa, sugar, wild rice, and red rice. It also includes a light and fruity grape-pineapple dressing, although you can also substitute your own. Reviewers are saying that this salad is tasty and can easily be bulked up if desired. To try it out, you can get one 6.7-ounce box (four servings worth) for about $12.
Neat Foods Original Mix
For a versatile meat alternative that you can put your own personal touch on, check out Neat Foods Original Mix. This soy-free and gluten-free mix is made with pecans, garbanzo beans, gluten-free whole grain oats, organic gluten-free whole grain cornmeal, sea salt, and spices. Reviewers are saying that this mix is tasty, excellent quality (especially since it sticks to whole foods), versatile (can be left as “ground beef” or shaped into patties or meatballs) works successfully with egg replacer (or chickpea brine). One reviewer also pointed out that she had better results when she put oil on her pan and cooked the mix a bit longer than what the package suggests. To try it out, you can get one 5.5-ounce package for about $5.75.
Gardein Lightly Breaded Turk'y Cutlet With Gravy
Can’t wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy some plant-based turkey? No problem. Gardein Lightly Breaded Turk’y Cutlet With Gravy is a non-GMO meat alternative made primarily with water, soy protein isolate, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed canola oil, and a blend of ancient grain flours. The gravy is made with water, vegan butter, a blend of vegetable oils, salt, soy sauce, and spices. Reviewers are saying that this product has an excellent texture and flavor, is a “crowd favorite” (that even meat eaters enjoy), and is easy to make. One reviewer did say that the gravy was a bit spicier than they expected so, you may want to try it out before pouring it over your cutlet. You can get one 12-ounce package (two cutlets per package) for about $3.75.
Westsoy Chicken-Style Seitan
While seitan is often used in cooking to emulate beef or steak, when cooked a certain way it can also be a chicken replacement. Take Westsoy Chicken-Style Seitan, for instance. This wheat meat is cooked tender and then marinated in soy sauce, pea starch, chickpea flour, and some natural flavors. With each serving having 20 grams worth of protein, Westsoy suggests using these strips as a protein source for stir-fries. You can get one 18-ounce package for $5.
Tasty Bite Indian Entree Jodhpur Lentils
Who says that the main dish of your dinner has to emulate meat necessarily? For something just as flavorful, hearty, and filling, try out Tasty Bite Indian Entree Jodhpur Lentils. This microwaveable entrée is gluten-free and made from water, lentils, sunflower oil, salt, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, turmeric, and chilis. Each package (two servings worth) provides 14 grams of protein. Reviewers are reporting that this product is a must-try, extremely convenient, flavorful, and filling. Just beware, these lentils are extremely soft, almost soup-like, as one reviewer put it. You may want to pair these with rice or potatoes. You can get a pack of six 10-ounce pouches for about $18.
Edward and Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes
Fall dinners simply don’t seem complete without mashed potatoes? Instead of spending an hour making mashed potatoes from scratch, consider investing in Edward & Son’s Organic Mashed Potatoes. This instant mix is made from four ingredients: organic potato flakes, organic onion powder, sea salt, and organic black pepper. It is gluten-free and organic and only requires a pot of boiling water to enjoy, some vegan non-dairy milk (shelf-stable in the case of camping) and a bit of vegan butter (which can be kept in a cooler). Reviewers are saying that this instant mix is tasty, a very convenient way to make mashed potatoes when you’re crunched on time, and is a healthy option compared to other instant mixes that utilize preservatives and additives. You can get a pack of six 3.5-ounce boxes for about $19.
Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy
Gravy instantly turns blasé dishes into amazing ones. Mashed potatoes, veggie meatloaf, and green beans may not sound that exciting but after a drizzle of gravy, they become enticing as can be! While many gravies are meat-based, Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy deviates from that trend and uses the following organic ingredients: potato starch, corn syrup solids, brown rice flour, tamari powder, sea salt, carrot, tomato powder, and a few other ingredients. Reviewers are saying that this gravy is tasty, easy to make, a great vegan option, and is versatile in terms of texture (you can make it as thick or thin as you’d like). You can get a pack of 12 one-ounce packets for $14.
Near East Rice Pilaf Mix
If you want to include a rice dish on your dinner table, consider checking out Near East Rice Pilaf. This pre-seasoned mix is made with parboiled long grain rice, orzo, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, onion, garlic, and turmeric. With a bit of water and vegan butter, this mix can be cooked in the microwave in 15-20 minutes. Reviewers are saying that this rice mix is very flavorful, easy-to-cook, and good quality. You can get a pack of 12, 6.9-ounce boxes for about $22.
St. Dalfour French Bistro
For a simple bean salad you can enjoy warm or at room temperature, check out St. Dalfour French Bistro Three Beans and Corn. This meal is low-fat, low-sodium, and MSG-free. It is also packaged specifically for to-go eating but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it at home, as well! It is made with diced carrots, sweet corn, lentils, cannellini beans, kidney beans, onions, flageolet beans, sunflower oil, and spices. It also comes with a salad dressing made primarily with water, fructose, rice vinegar, and pineapple juice. It is shelf-stable for two years so you can definitely take your time in terms of eating it. Reviewers are saying that this meal is healthful, convenient, and nutritious. You can get six 6.2-ounce tins for $22.
Hail Merry Sweet Potato Tarts
On to the best part of dinner – dessert! Instead of making a full-blown pie (which usually equates to spending hours in the kitchen) consider investing in some Hail Merry Sweet Potato Mini Miracle Tarts. These soy-free and nut-free tarts are made primarily from organic shredded coconut, organic virgin coconut oil, almond flour, organic maple syrup, cashews, almond milk, organic sweet potato, organic coconut sugar, and sea salt. These mini tarts are dehydrated at low temperatures to keep their nutrition intact. They also contain no additives. These are sweet treats that are easier to deal with than slicing and divvying up a pie. Reviewers are saying that these are excellent, “just sweet enough,” and that one tart is a satisfying enough treat. You can get eight packs (six mini tarts per pack) for $48.
JJ's Sweet Cocomels
For a treat you can just hand out as people make their way out, consider stocking up on some candy, like dairy-free caramels. JJ’s Sweet Cocomels are an award-winning caramel candy made from combining coconut milk with brown syrup, coconut palm sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. They are organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and corn syrup-free. This product has won several awards and looking at the reviews, you can see why. Amazon reviewers describe these caramels as “amazing” and “incredibly textured.” One reviewer even specifically gives props to the company for using coconut sugar, stating that it can be difficult to find a product that is vegan, gluten-free, and uses natural sweeteners. Just be sure not to refrigerate them. As one reviewer points out, this can make the caramels very hard and may even cause some tooth problems. You can try two 3.5-ounce bags for $13.
Home Free Vanilla Mini Cookies
While there are tons of flavored cookies on the market nowadays, sometimes it’s nice to keep a plain, vanilla cookie around as an option all of your guests will enjoy (especially paired with coffee or some hot chocolate). Home Free Vanilla Mini Cookies are gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and non-GMO cookies. They are made primarily with gluten-free whole oat flour and the following organic ingredients: evaporated cane sugar, safflower oil, pear juice from concentrate, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, lemon juice from concentrate, and pure vanilla extract. Reviewers are saying that these cookies are much healthier than typical vanilla wafers, are light and crispy, and are a great crunchy addition to puddings. One reviewer even said that these cookies were “one of the best gluten-free products out there.” To see if you feel the same, you can get a pack of six, five-ounce boxes for a little more than $20.