I love throwing parties but I hate cooking for a crowd. Here are 10 things I buy at Aldi for easy entertainment.

Little Salad Bar dressings and Park Street Deli hot-and-serve meals come in handy when I have guests over.Christine MacIntyre

  • Because I’m not a huge fan of cooking but love entertaining, I head to Aldi for easy meal ideas.

  • Priano’s ravioli and Mama Cozzi’s pizzas are perfect for Italian-inspired dishes.

  • I enhance my parties by placing The Bake Shop or specially selected cakes on fancy plates.

I learned to cook later in life, but I always enjoyed having guests over for dinner and at least pretending to know my way around the kitchen. Aldi has been a lifesaver for me in times when I need to serve something delicious and quick.

I’m lucky to have two Aldi stores within 20 miles of my house, so I shop there several times a month. I’m a big fan of the store’s affordable prices and the many gourmet products on offer on the shelves.

Here are 10 things that make entertaining guests easier.

I use fresh vegetables for starters or side dishes.

Bagged cucumbers and carrots in the produce section of Aldi

Carrots can be served raw as an appetizer or cooked as a side dish.Christine MacIntyre

When dinner is in the oven, I let my guests eat bites out of hand, like a veggie platter. Colorful vegetable platters, which I make with carrots, green beans and zucchini, are easy to put together quickly.

I also like to sprinkle vegetables with Italian seasoning or garlic and sauté them to make an easy and delicious side dish that pairs well with almost any main dish.

Emporium Selection cheeses make me a better cook.

Gruyère cheese at Aldi

I recently came across Emporium Selection Gruyère and Lustenberger cheeses.Christine MacIntyre

I love serving a range of artisan cheeses that combine sweet, fruity and tangy flavors. Emporium Selection offers several options, including applewood smoked cheddar, Gouda and Gruyere. The brand’s Cranberry White Cheddar is also delicious on crackers.

There are many ways for my guests to enjoy cheese, whether serving it as an appetizer, incorporating it into a dish, or using it to make sauces.

Good pasta creates a perfect Italian-inspired dish.

Priano ravioli;  Reggano autumn pasta

I make super easy and tasty meals with Priano ravioli and Reggano pasta.Christine MacIntyre

I love pairing Priano Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with flavorful sauces and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan or mozzarella. I love Aldi’s seasonal pasta sauces, like the specially selected pumpkin and butternut squash option, as well as the brand’s vodka sauce.

If you prefer to work with dried pasta, Aldi often offers unique shapes, like the fun fall-themed Reggano Noodles I found on a recent trip.

Mama Cozzi’s pizzas are a party staple.

Mama Cozzi's pizza at Aldi

Mama Cozzi’s pizzas come in several flavors, including supreme.Christine MacIntyre

I love pizza because it’s versatile and I get everything I need with Mama Cozzi’s Large Take and Bake Pies. I enjoy meat lovers and supreme pizza, although I often buy plain cheese and add my own toppings.

For example, I might add Appleton Farms Gourmet Deli Selection Hot Calabrese for a spicy punch. Vibrant peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach help create the perfect vegetarian option.

Pair the pizza with garlic knots and chicken wings from Aldi’s freezer section, and you’re good to go.

Never Any Seasoned Meats make it simple to prepare tasty meals.

Marinated meat at Aldi

I love not having to season Never Any marinated meats.Christine MacIntyre

I like bold flavors, but I prefer to buy meats already seasoned to ensure the dish turns out properly. Southwest-Style Seasoned Chicken Breasts with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil taste like someone who knew what they were doing in the kitchen.

I also saw seasoned pork loins and fish. If Aldi is out of the protein I want, I simply opt for one of the many other unique marinade options.

Park Street Deli’s hot, served meals are perfect for last-minute entertaining.

Park Street Deli Seasoned Meals at Aldi

I get the chicken fajitas and pork carnitas from Park Street Deli.Christine MacIntyre

Park Street Deli’s hot-and-serve meals in Aldi’s refrigerated section are quick and effortless options when I have last-minute guests over. The pork carnitas and chicken fajitas are delicious and the pulled beef brisket is a must for me.

I pair the meat with soft tortillas, queso, a bag of restaurant-style tortilla chips, and a jar of specially selected Southwestern salsa or pre-made refrigerated dip. Customers are always surprised that they can prepare a complete meal in less than 30 minutes.

Breaded shrimp also serves as an appetizer or main course.

Frozen breaded shrimp at Aldi

Fremont Fish Market and Specially Selected have many seafood options.Christine MacIntyre

If I’m having guests over for dinner, I’ll purchase the specially selected Crispy Coconut Stuffed or Fried Shrimp, the Fremont Fish Market Shrimp Trio, or a combination of fried seafood to serve with different sauces.

I think frozen crispy seafood makes my meals look fancy and expensive. I also like that relatively affordable fried seafood retains its crunch when air fried.

Dressings give salads unique, bold flavors that my guests love.

Little Salad Bar Dressings at Aldi

I love the variety of The Little Salad Bar dressings.Christine MacIntyre

I almost always serve a salad with several dressing options. The Little Salad Bar Avocado Ranch and Specially Selected Three Cheese Dressing are some of my favorites.

Served with fresh spinach, walnuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, grated cheese and chopped fresh vegetables, the dressings make these elaborate salads taste like a five-star restaurant.

The prepared desserts satisfy the guests’ sweet tooth after a hearty meal.

Specially selected bakery and desserts at Aldi

I place The Bake Shop and Specially Selected cakes on fancy dishes and platters.Christine MacIntyre

Bake Shop’s variety pack of cheesecakes and assorted biscuits and specially selected chocolate lava cakes save me time in the kitchen. I also love The Bake Shop 7 Up cake because it’s another crowd-pleasing option that allows me to focus on other things instead of baking.

I take the desserts out of their containers and place them on pretty serving platters. Guests wouldn’t guess I didn’t make them myself if I didn’t tell them.

Aldi has the cutest home decor to decorate a party table.

Pumpkin decor at Aldi

I recently found some cute ceramic pumpkins at Aldi.Christine MacIntyre

I love shopping in the seasonal section at Aldi and almost always come home with new decor. I can quickly grab something cute to dress up my table for a last minute meeting.

I opt for simple options like floral arrangements, candles, and decorations like woven or ceramic pumpkins.

Click to continue reading Aldi newspapers like this one.

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