Labor Day is the unofficial end of the summer. It’s the last, long weekend that gives everyone an opportunity to bid adieu to a summer of memories and sun and get ready for a fall of cooler weather.
Have friends and family over for a final big meal of the warm months and to prepare for the months to come. Whether you are out at a lake, down on the beach, or in your backyard, simple and portable meals make it easy for everyone to party and eat well.
Look through your freezer and fridge to see which farmer’s market and summer cookout leftovers you have. This weekend is the last big chance to dip into those juicy, sweet, summer favorites. Cook up some steaks, ribs, burgers, and hot dogs for main courses. Don’t forget the buns and condiments. For something a little different, think about pulled pork or brisket sandwiches. Try juicy sweet corn, watermelon, or a tomato and basil salad. Serve sangria or margaritas to the adults and lemonade and slushies to the kids. Bright cherry, strawberry, and blueberry pies and cobblers celebrate the fruits of summer. Don’t forget some ice cream or cold whipped cream on the side!
Get everyone ready for the new season with transitional meals. Serve two dishes of each food type — one for summer and one for fall. For instance, you can make a cool asparagus soup as well as a warm chowder. Serve two potato salads. One can be a cold mayonnaise-based one, and another could be a warm vinegar-and-mustard-based salad. Make small fruit tarts as well as rich cobblers and pies. If you are having a potluck, split the guest list into two. Ask half the guests to bring their favorite summer dish and the other half to bring their autumn comfort food favorite.
Labor Day weekend falls around the kickoff of football season. Put together a menu full of football classics. If Labor Day weekend happens to be a cool one, you can serve rich, warm dishes. If the weekend is still warm in your region, lighten up, and cool off. Chili is a popular favorite. Serve it in small bowls with plenty of bread, if it’s a cool day. Fried chicken and chicken wings work well in either season and are a game favorite. Lighten up chips and dip by serving corn chips and salsa, instead.