If you plan to host more than a couple of dinner parties a year, it’s an efficient and economical idea to stock your party pantry with supplies.
staples . Head for your local super discount bulk supply store and buy in quantity. For year-round party giving, stock napkins (cocktail and dinner), dinner candles, mineral waters, mixers, garbage bags, etc. Spontaneous party lovers should stock “green” (extra-virgin) olive oil and dried pasta to mix with garlic, spices, and whatever happens to be in the refrigerator for a pasta di monento. If you have your own spontaneous meal, build a cache of its ingredients. Stock stock. A few cans of chicken, vegetable or fish stock can help you make soups and sauces on a whim. For the BBQ season, go deep on paper plates, charcoal, citronella anti-bug candles, tiki-style candles, etc.
a note on spices . There are two types of products sold in grocery stores that are marked up so much that I shake my head every time I pass them in the aisle: spices and breakfast cereal. I’ll leave the discussion of the latter for the potential sequel, The Cereal Gourmet.
In most grocery stores the cost of a conventional jar of spices (i.e., dried oregano or black peppercorns) runs about three dollars. Down the street at your local natural foods, bulk foods or ethnic grocery store, these same spices are available by the ounce. What you don’t get is the jar and the brand name; what you do get is a savings of up to 500 percent.
inexpensive party luxuries