Our family enjoys having guests over for supper. Eating a meal together is a great opportunity to get to know people better or reconnect with those you haven’t spent time with in a while. Sometimes we have a potluck-type meal, where everyone brings a part of the meal and I only make the main dish and one of the sides. Other times I make the entire meal. However, whether I am only responsible for part of the meal or all of it, I like to use recipes that can be prepared ahead. There are a few reasons for this. One, I have time to clean up the kitchen before everyone shows up. And two, I don’t like rushing around at the last minute. You never know when your guests will arrive early or you’ll have some unexpected kerfuffle and suddenly there’s not enough time to get everything done. Below is an example of an easy to prepare menu that doesn’t require much work at the last minute.
Make Ahead Dinner Menu
- Lasagna. I love this recipe because you can prepare it the night before and just pull it out and bake it before supper. Also, it uses sausage, which gives it a great flavor. Another great thing about serving lasagna is the meat and pasta are all in the same dish, so you’re not cooking a separate side like rice or potatoes.
- Vegetable of your choice. I often do green beans. Use whatever you like best – fresh, frozen or canned – and season simply with salt, pepper and onion. Green beans are a great choice because they’re a vegetable many people like (even kids).
- Garlic bread. This is something you can buy and heat or make your own. This garlic bread recipe is super simple and you can prepare it up to 12 hours ahead of time. Isn’t that great?!
- Lettuce salad. Salad is a great way to round out a meal and adds some extra vegetables. Make a salad with your favorite toppings and dressing. Everything can be done ahead of time; just wait until right before serving to add the dressing and anything crunchy like croutons, sesame sticks, etc.
- I love making trifle for dessert when we’re having guests because it has to be made ahead of time and it also makes a lot so one recipe is enough. You can easily halve the recipe if you don’t need quite so much. One of my favorites is Black Forest Trifle. I love chocolate and cherries together. And more chocolate. Not a big fan of trifles or want something that will keep better with leftovers? Try this ice cream dessert. I especially love this made with mint chocolate chip ice cream instead of vanilla.
With this meal, the only last minute preparations are to cook the vegetable and mix the salad. Everything else is baking in the oven or chilling in the fridge. Your time is free to fill glasses, light candles, check the table one last time and be available to welcome your guests! I don’t enjoy being stuck in the kitchen and unable to say more than ‘hello’ to anyone before the meal starts.
Sharing a meal is a great opportunity for fun and fellowship; a perfect chance to get to know people better. If you’re intimidated by having company, don’t be! People will be glad for the opportunity to spend time with you. Preparing ahead of time takes the pressure off mealtime and lets you enjoy the evening with your guests.
If you’re interested in other make ahead meals, check out my breakfast menu.