There are many reasons to host a potluck, and many reasons why it can be a great alternative to dining out. Not only are potlucks more economical, they allow us to share in a collective eating experience, something that can be lost when we eat our own individual servings at a restaurant. We become what we eat – literally – so sharing in the same kinds of ingredients and similar dishes as those around us can energetically shift how we interact. Cool, hey? 

Have you noticed, too, that homemade food has an entirely different quality than commercially prepared food? The energy that is infused when someone makes something by hand changes the quality of a meal, and in a world of ever-increasing access to convenience foods, there is something to be said for taking in a little Vitamin L(ove) once in awhile.

How to Make Your Potluck Vegan:

A veg-friendly potluck can also be helpful when you have a group of friends with varying dietary needs. The nice thing about a plant-based party is that the veggies tend to be okay for most bodies, and on top of the veggie foundation, you can layer in other elements that appeal to individual diners. And for those of your crew who might not be into the whole vegan thing (yet), a potluck is a fun way to introduce guests to new foods (and perhaps try out something new yourself!).

Here are some easy steps to set you on a path to a well-rounded, smoothly executed foodie gathering. Get out your best mason jars: your party is about to begin!

Start a sign up list in a Google Doc

Once you have your guest list compiled, put together a shareable Google Doc so everyone can select which types of dishes they’d like to bring. You’ll be able to see which foods are represented and what might be missing (perfect if you end up needing to assign things). Use headings like ‘Name’, ‘Dish you’ll bring’, ‘Needs to be heated? Refrigerated? Frozen?’ and ‘Link to recipe’: this way, everyone can see what kinds of dishes others are planning so you don’t end up with three coleslaws and four different chocolate chip vegan cookies.

Ask about allergies and preferences

Check in with your guests before you create your sign up and ensure you’re aware of any allergies. Make this known on your spreadsheet, especially for severe allergies like peanuts or tree nuts: i.e. ‘Please do not bring any dishes containing tree nuts’. For intolerances or preferences, include a note requesting guests bring the ingredient list for anything containing potentially problematic ingredients such as gluten, cilantro or corn.

Cover your food categories

Create categories like “appetizers”, “hot entrees”, “grains”, “beans and legumes”, “raw food and salads”, “desserts” and “drinks”. Think about how many of each you’d like to see: do you want more entrees than appetizers or more salads than desserts? Allot a certain number of sign-up slots to each category. It can be overwhelming to be the first one to sign up, so get the ball rolling by signing up for a few things you intend to make.

Send suggestions for recipes for those who need some inspiration

Especially for your guests who are new to vegan cooking or perhaps have extreme kitchen fear, send some sample recipes for each category to kickstart culinary imaginations. Good news: One Green Planet is a one-stop shop for a variety of potluck friendly dishes. Why not start with these?

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lime and Cilantro
Beans and Legumes
Red Lentil Burgers with Kale Pesto
Raw Food and Salads
Raw Sweet Potato Salad
Gluten-free Vegan Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
Apple Cider Cocktail (can be made with or without alcohol)
Hot Entrees
Sesame Brussels Sprouts Curry
A whole selection of Vegan Party Appetizers or this delicious Turnip Caramelized Onion and Toasted Lentil Mash, which would be awesome on crackers or bread.

Make a schedule for the oven

Once everyone is signed up and you have your menu planned, create a schedule for your kitchen for the night of your party. What needs to be heated (and how long will it take)? What time do the hors d’oeuvres need to go into the oven to ensure they’re ready for your first guests? How much oven real estate do you need for the entrees? What needs to be refrigerated or frozen, and how much space will it need? Once you have a sense of what will be reheated when, you can breeze through your party and actually enjoy your nibbles and your guests, instead of fretting over things accidentally left in the back of the fridge or the oven.

Follow up with your guests

Did someone bring the most sensational vegan pie you’ve ever tried, or was that Eggplant Casserole the obvious hit of the night? Follow up with everyone and ask them to fill in the links in your shared Google Doc. This way, everyone can check back in and recreate their favorites at home. Perhaps someone else will be inspired to host the next gathering — and look at that, you already have a great list to work from!

Have you ever hosted a vegan potluck?

Image Source: Amy Height