Easy Weeknight Meals Image Gallery
Easy Weeknight Meals Image Gallery

Plan ahead so you can enjoy the party, too. See more pictures of easy weeknight meals.

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When you're planning a large dinner party, it's tempting to pull out all the stops to impress your guests. But you don't want to plan such an extravagant feast that you don't have any time to spend with your friends, so keeping it simple is key. Simple doesn't have to mean a pizza delivery. It's possible to create flavorful meals for a party of 10 in about an hour if you incorporate some of the following tips.

Prep Ingredients First

Prepping your dinner is often the most time-consuming part of cooking. You can easily spend a couple of hours chopping, seasoning and marinating your ingredients before you ever get to the assembly and cooking stages. So if you want to be a sweat-free host, be sure to have the peppers sliced and the onions diced before any guests arrive. Go to the store a day or two before your event and spend some time in the kitchen each evening getting everything ready for the big night. You can store your ingredients in individual containers in your refrigerator for quick access when you need them.

Plan Simple Meals with Few Ingredients

Unless you're trying to get your own cooking show, a simple and delicious meal paired with some nice wine is all it takes to impress and delight your guests. Take the classic roasted chicken, for example. This is a very simple dish to prepare, and it's served in the finest French restaurants. All you need to do is quarter some red potatoes and onions, dice up some celery and carrots, throw them around a dry-rubbed roasting chicken with some butter and bake. Then just add some rice pilaf and fresh French bread, buy a dessert from your favorite bakery and you're set. The beauty of the roasted chicken is that once you put it in the oven, all you have to do is baste and enjoy your guests. Lasagna is another great option for a large dinner party. The entire meal can be prepped and ready to go into the oven come party time. Add some store-bought, fresh-baked bread and a Caesar salad that you can toss at the table, and you have an Italian feast with very little time spent preparing it.

Delegate

How many times have you hosted a dinner party and had one or more guests ask if they could help you do anything? Well, it's time to take them up on it. There are many tasks that can be delegated to the early arrivers, so pour your volunteer a glass of wine and ask them to toss the salad or check the grill. It's a great way to make your guests feel at home and get everything accomplished in short order. If you're serving hors d'oeuvres before dinner, ask a guest to plate them and serve them in the kitchen. This is a good trick for staying in the fray at your own dinner party and lends itself to a less formal atmosphere.