Dinner Party Ideas that Won’t Take All Day to Cook

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Want to invite company over but not sure what to serve? Consider these dinner party ideas that won’t take all day to cook.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

I’m coming off the heels of a very big weekend of celebrations. My brother got married! To celebrate, some of my favorite cousins and my favorite aunt came into town as well as my parents and siblings.

I knew I wanted to maximize my time, so I planned a couple get-togethers at our house to bookend the weekend of rehearsal dinner/wedding reception meals that I didn’t have to cook. Hehe!

I wanted to be hospitable, but I also didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. That’s where freezer cooking and some quick dinner ideas came to my rescue.

Dinner Party Ideas that Won’t Take All Day to Cook

Company-ready meals don’t need to take a lot of time, or be expensive. Check out this delicious round-up of dinner party ideas and menus that won’t take all day to prepare. Keep this list handy because the holidays are just around the corner!

Easy peasy

Easy Chicken and Asparagus (or Green Beans), the recipe pictured above, is amazingly simple, but packed with great flavor. Serve it with Creamy Mushroom Pilaf and you’ve got a 30-minute meal that’s fit for guests.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats


My husband and I fight over these Poblano Enchiladas. I make sure he doesn’t eat more than his fair share! They are so good, your company will be swooning. Serve them with Mexican Rice and this Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Bon Voyage

I love this Chicken Tikka Masala over Coconut Rice. It’s like a trip to India, but without the jetlag. It’s also one of my very favorite dishes. I have fond memories, too, of serving it to one of my best friends who came to visit from Houston. This dish will impress without wearing you out. I promise!

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Take-out Fake-out

What could be better than this Hands-free Cashew Chicken? If you keep frozen chicken tenders on hand, you can make it on a moment’s notice, wow-factor included. Feel free to pick up some oyster pails for serving, or keep the elegance with real flatware and dishes.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Salad’s on!

I love serving salad for supper, but as the temps cool down, you might want something heartier. This is the answer! Hot, warm, or cold, this Pesto Shrimp Linguine Salad is packed with flavor and super simple to prepare. Serve a basket of bread and butter and a good wine, and your job is done here.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Simple Courses

Your dinner party ideas don’t need to be complicated. This Creamy Chicken Salsa Verde has only five ingredients, but it feels elegant to serve. Set a pretty table and serve a simple appetizer salad like this one. End the evening with Salted Caramel Affogatos.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Feature Pizza

Sure, pizza is casual, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the star at your next dinner party. This Tartiflette Pizza is a cut above your regular pepperoni and cheese. Serve a green salad on the side and some hearty beers.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Boil and Bubble, it’s no trouble

Stir up a simmering pot of these Boules de Picolat, one of my favorites meals my French mom makes. Served over boiled potatoes, they are a hearty meal that everyone loves. They’re also freezer-friendly so you can make them weeks in advance.

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Cook out

It may be fall (somehwere) but that doesn’t mean you have to put the grill away. Weather permitting, use your outdoor grill to serve this delicious Dijon Pork Tenderloin. I like to serve it with Cheesy Potatoes and Steamed Vegetables for a simple yet elegant cheap eat.

(Pork tenderloin is amazingly affordable as far as cuts of meat go.)

Dinner Party Ideas | Good Cheap Eats

Quiche me.

This Ham and Gruyere Quiche with Leeks is super quick and easy to make, and it’s freezer-friendly. I made two to serve for brunch this past weekend. So yummy! Add a side salad and you’re good to go.

What are your favorite dinner party ideas that are quick to fix?

Let us know in the comments so we can build our repertoires of quick dinner party ideas.

Be sure to read the whole series: Quick Dinner Ideas.


About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Janet says

    Baked pork chops, baked potatoes and cinnamon baked apples make an easy, affordable fall meal.

  2. Molly says

    You know, I don’t even eat meat, and these pictures make me want to eat at your house for any and all of these meals.

  3. Karen J says

    i love having a potato bar for a casual dinner party. I splurge and buy those big bakers . Those go in the oven and all the toppings can be pre-prepared and put in to pretty bowls. Toppings have included bacon, pulled pork from the freezer, steamed broccoli, several kinds of grated cheese, onions (purple and green), sour cream and butter. We have vegetarian friends and meat eaters so this works for both.

  4. Felicia says

    I like to prepare Italian dinners in advance. I find cooking dissimilar shaped pasta in the same pot saves time. For example, lasagna noodles with large shells. While the pasta cooks, I can simultaneously sauté the meat with onion and garlic and have the ricotta mixture stirring up in a bowl. Both can be assembled in about 45 min. Stuffed shells and lasagna freeze well too! Heat and serve with salad.

Share Your Thoughts