Potluck Pet Peeves

When I attend a potluck I try to bring a food item based on taste, ease in transport, does it need to be kept hot or cold, something everyone would like, and something maybe unique. This past Sunday we had a potluck at church and I spied my Artisan Bread in 5 dough in my fridge, enough to make two pizzas, perfect. My pizzas came together quickly and were delicious, not a piece left. I think I finally make pizza as good as or better than my Auntie Fannie who was famous for hers (at least in our family!) My pizzas were served at room temperature and the kitchen ladies had cut the pizza in 3×3 inch squares. So keep some of this dough in you fridge for some good potluck pleasin’.

I love potlucks, I really do. I perk up when I hear potluck and start daydreaming about what I am going to bring, what wonderful dishes will be present, and maybe learning a new recipe or two but…

Why Do I Still Attend Potlucks When…

1. The family of 16, all big eaters, is in line in front of me and I may as well surrender now and call Pizza Hut for delivery.

2. That very same family of 16 brought a can of corn.

3. Parents are not watching their children load up on food only to waste it while I got two kernels of corn and a half of biscuit. I’ll know to load up at Communion next time.

4. People stand in line eating food off their plates with their fingers, and lick those fingers, then reach for the serving utensils for more food. Now I know for sure that the term “greasy spoon” started at some church basement potluck.

5. People in line in front of me are sniffling and sneezing. Beyond the Blessing I may need a shot of Penicillin to prevent illness. Or vodka.

6. Unidentifiable food is present. If you have to explain your dish, don’t bring it.

7. A person is running around asking if there is any salt in each dish, “My blood pressure you know.” We’re SOUTHERN Baptist, what do you think?

8. A stampede is caused by someone shouting, “Oh look Twinkies and SpaghettiO’s!” Why is it that the store bought stuff is more popular than my homemade Dulce de Leche Pie?

9. There are people in line with their plates heaped high looking for the Diet Coke.

10. The people in line in front of me are already on their seconds.

What do you like to bring to potlucks and what is a potluck pet peeve of yours? Be nice. Well only a little nice.

UPDATE-  Potluck Pet Peeves Part 2! Best Reader Comments, plus read more comments. Some people have had some crazy experiences at potlucks!  Oh and my peeves are an accumulation of 25 years attending various church, office, and Army potlucks.


  1. Rindy R
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    I will never look at a potluck the same way! You are too funny! I like to bring Evelyn’s Calico Bean pot baked beans! They are always a hit!

  2. EAT!
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    I have that dough in my fridge right now. It is my favorite.

    I haven’t been to a potluck in forever. Too many memories of eating jello in the church basement while sitting on folding chairs. Now I need to make an appointment with my psychiatrist.

  3. Sabrina
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    Oh you are so funny. I have to agree with you the folks who just bring a can of corn then eat like they are not going to get fed for a week. I don’t have a stand by dish, I just take a can of corn. ha ha.

  4. Rachael
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 9:56 AM | Permalink


    Every one of those is so true…you have me cracking up!! I like to bring appetizers to potlucks! But…come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I have been to one.

    Maybe I avoid them for all the reasons that you listed 🙂

  5. Dawn
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    LOL! A can of corn? Are you serious? I’ve never run into that thank goodnes, but I’ve seen people bring enough food for 4 when it should be for 25. Not fair. I always try and bring something big and satisfying.
    I will never look at the term greasy spoon the same… lol

  6. JennyMac
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    I usually bring Chilaquiles….but I guess a can of corn is better than bringing NOTHING. Those same people walk around with two plates to fill (one to eat now and the other to eat later). Our have gotten so bad that we have to enlist people to ‘serve’ (you know, to model how a normal serving should be?) October, our principal ran off with the normal dinner paper plates and replaced them with dessert sized plates for the line was long and she was fearful of running out of food. People were ticked!!!

  7. mephibashef
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    OK, were you the one just in front of me in that potluck line? I thought I was the only one to witness these fetes of communal dining pleasure. Seriously, I always bring a large dish or desert or sometmes 2 items because I know others bring just a can of corn. And it never fails, there is one family the is up there first, grazing heavily. By the time half the people are fed the food is really drastically low.

    My other peve about pot lucks is the scary food that was prepared by people who have questionable cooking skills and / or questionable understanding of what is sanitary / safe food practices. There is always at least one dish on the table that is way off on appearance, aroma, selection of ingredients… and that is the one dish that is all but eaten in the end.
    Pot lucks can really be great – but sometimes it is russian roulet with gastro-intestinal disease.

  8. Kristin
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    I organize monthly potlucks for my department at work. Two of my collegues begged to start having it be themed, which I thought was a great idea! After making such a big fuss of it, neither has brought anything themed and it’s been stuff straight out of the freezer!

    My next potluck is next week, which we’re trying to raise money for another collegue who is going to be in a charity marathon. Please lord, let me get through this next one!

    I like bring a wide variety of things to potlucks. I love using my crockpot or bringing homemade salads. I actually made your Two-ingredient pumpkin cake with browned butter frosting for one potluck, and it was a HUGE success! I have now made it for two birthdays, and will make it again next week for my husband’s birthday! (We work for the same company.)

  9. Tallie
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    I don’t like potlucks for all of the reasons you mentioned plus instead of enjoying my food I pay too much attention to whether the food I brought is being eaten and how well people like it. I’m self conscious about my food, it’s pathetic. Which is why if I am forced to attend such an event I’ll bring something ridiculously simple that most everyone will like, cookies, brownies, or 7 layer bean dip.

  10. ~Vanessa~
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    LOL on your post! I am always asked to bring my Macaroni Salad, my Mac and Cheese, or my Banana Pudding. Sometimes I send my favorite green salad with homemade dressing. I have never really gotten to try much else because people pout if I don’t bring one of the requesteds. I also make a killer shredded barbecue and corn casserole that go in a slow cooker. I carefully choose whose food I eat at a potluck!

  11. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Amen!!! I do like you, choose something that transports well (best if it fits in one of my covered dishes with the insulated bags), something lots of people will like, and lots of it, even if there is only two of us going. Once I made a double batch of the little sausages in crescent rolls for a Super Bowl party at church (I know) and they were eaten out of the basket as I carried it to the table.

    My Pet Peeve, those who stop by the grocery on the way and get a bag of chips and a jar of salsa or some grocery store bakery cookies, but never touch it themselves, they eat the hot, yummy homemade things. If you can’t cook, at least stop and get chicken or something.

  12. Joie de vivre
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    Oh Robin,
    You always make me laugh. My potluck peeve is the one about the people sneezing and licking their fingers then reaching in the bowl of Doritos or whatever else store bought thing someone brought. I always bring…what else do Lutherans bring?, casserole!

  13. Kate
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    AMENNNNNNNNNNN!!! A thousand cheers for this. My mother’s art studio cooperative has potluck lunch every single DAY (it’s a tourist attraction in Hawaii and the artists are in residence most every day). There is a woman who, literally, brings 1 can of corn and 1 corn of green beans, mixes them, and calls it salad. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And then loads up on my mother’s chocolate layer cake, or someone else’s crab puffs. For the longest while everyone thought she was living on a fixed, low income, but no. She’s just cheap. Another woman brings 1/2 of a loaf of wheat bread. Her theory: “Why bring a whole loaf? It’s never eaten all the way gone.” She then takes home “her” wheat bread because so few people eat it. My mother said “That should have been her cue that she needs to bring something else besides that funky wheat bread.” I told her that was my Mom’s cue to load up on that woman’s wheat bread. Even if she doesn’t want it — you eat that darn bread! I mean it! (I’m petty).

    Anyway, my personal pet peeve are the “consultants” who tell you what you should, or should have not, with *your* dish as you are unpacking it and putting it on the community table.

    “Ooooh, what’s that?”
    “Green Chili Enchiladas.”
    “What’s that on top?”
    “That would be the diced green chili.”
    “Oh, you should have put that on the side. Not everyone likes green chili.”
    “Well we can’t bake for everyone, that’s why it’s a potluck.”
    “yes but I have a sensitive stomach and now I can’t eat that…”
    “Well it looks like there are lots of good things for you to choose from…”
    “Well next time can you make it without the green chilis?”
    “Well then it wouldn’t be green chili enchiladas…”
    “Well next time can you just, oh I don’t know, bring a can of corn? Baked into a corn souffle? I like that.”

  14. redforever
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    You are so right with your comments. We have one person in our group that brings a pound of butter, no bread or buns, just a pound of butter.

    Myself, I alternate. One time I bring a hot dish, next time a salad, next time a dessert.

    I always make sure it transports well and presents well. Myself, I won’t touch something if I have no clue what could possibly be in it from how it looks.

    I don’t bring foods that use the cheapest ingredients possible. If I would not serve a dish like that to my family or company in my house, I will not bring it to a potluck. And I always make sure that what I bring serves at least 12.

  15. Robin Sue
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Ok Ok Ok! You all are killing me. I am having more fun reading these comments than writing this post. We do have some good gripes don’t we. Why can’t anyone play by OUR set of rules! Bring lots of food and make it good!

    A pound of butter! I think I peed my pants reading that one!
    And the green enchilada story is soooo true. They always want to tell us how to cook.

    It think we should all bring a can of corn to our next potluck- just because!

  16. Karen
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    I avoid potlucks like the plague for all of the above-mentioned reasons! LOL

  17. That Girl
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    My mouth is dropping open reading these. I must live in La-La-land because I’ve never encountered any of these situations at potlucks! Usually everyone is well behaved and brings appropriate amounts of foods!

  18. jancd
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    We have game night at our church once a month and everyone is supposed to bring a snack to share. Of the 40+ people there, only two or three people bring homemade snacks. It’s usually a bought cake from the grocery (not so good) and a bought dip (left in the original container) with chips, a bought veggie plate with dip (stale) or other junk. Those of us who take the time to bake or cook are immediately “attacked” when we arrive. People are so eager to eat something homemade. Most of these people are retired and do not work. They have the time to prepare something, but are just too lazy to do so. I may take corn and beans tonight and mix them together (ha). Love you site and these comments were too funny.

  19. Sheila
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    I just cracked up at the pound of butter; what is that for?

    I think I have been spoiled by our church fellowships. Instructions are given, “Last names A-M bring a main dish and a side dish; Last names N-Z bring a main dish and a dessert.” And the food is always good; lots of homemade stuff.

    I like to bring something in a crockpot to keep hot like shredded pork barbecue with coleslaw and rolls. We are guilty of stopping at the grocery in a pinch but we usually pick up a sliced ham and rolls.

  20. Cookie
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    I just stumbled upon your blog and you’re too funny! I actually don’t remember the last time I’ve been to a potluck and after reading your post, I guess I should consider myself lucky! If I was to attend a potluck though, I’d probably bring either brownie bites or cookies. I’m a total baker!
    I also had a question regarding the Baked Corn Dogs that you posted a while back. Do you know if they make good left-overs for a quick snack? Thanks!

  21. grahamstravelblog
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

    I usually have a hard time figuring out what to take to a potluck but I usually end up taking bruschetta. In general I have problems when people can’t follow queue protocols and this definitely applies to potlucks. Butter your bread already and be swift about it, people are hungry!

    I think you may be onto something with that vodka comment. There should be two lines at all potlucks. One with food and one for vodka shots. That way when you finally get through the food line you won’t care what you are eating. After consuming the food, you’ll also need to go back to the vodka line for another shot to kill germs. Please take your original shotglass with you through the food line so you can reuse it later.

    Wait, you would do this in a church basement?

  22. Laura
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    I must confess I am with thatgirl in that my potlucks are usually fun and full of good food. BUT I do hate it when people rave about dumb semi-homemade or storebought food that I would never make at home let alone take out for other people to eat. I always want to bring dessert but I also know that everyone else does too so I do not. Last time I brought homemade sweet dinner rolls–and drove my husband nuts insisting that he get there IMMEDIATELY so they could be eaten hot and then after everyone was mega prompt last year everyone was late this year and they were eaten cold and oh I guess I do have another pet peeve!

  23. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    I think churches make mistakes when they don’t give instructions – like A-M bring main dish and salad, etc. People don’t have common sense, don’t care, are cheap, lazy, to bring enough food for their family and a dish to share with others. I find some churches are embarrassed to tell people to bring 2 dishes. My old church always ran out of food and had to send out for pizza. I also try to find out who has cooked the dish before I eat it because I have gotten sick twice. Ma

  24. Karen K
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    Get this. I work with a woman, let’s call her Ann. Ann is a member of a teensy tiny church that has “Dinner on the Grounds” once a month after Sunday morning service. Ann and I work with another woman, let’s call her Nerve. Nerve only goes to that church the week there is “Dinner on the Grounds” which, of course, is a potluck. Nerve also has the, umm, nerve, to show up with Tupperware to take the leftovers!!! That’s right folks…she takes the leftovers if there are any. Nerve is no petite flower either. Just sayin…

  25. Kate
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

    She brings *empty* Tupperware to load up… ?! You win, Karen! Best comment so far.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All posts are moderated.


  • 10,080 Minutes - BRK Book The story of our dramatic lifestyle makeover and journey for living what matters.

    10,080 Minutes - Daniel and Robin Joss