Emergency Cooking: Family’s Coming Over In One Hour!

You’ve just received a text from your relatives that just sent you into deep panic mode. They’re on the way to your home and will be there in approximately one hour. You forgot they were coming for dinner! Right now, a million thoughts are rushing through your mind. Why didn’t you remember? Why didn’t they check with you sooner? What are they going to think of you? But you don’t have time for these thoughts. You need to get a grip and get everything ready for your guests. 


The good news is that you can get food on the table in under one hour. However, you’ll have to be quick and decisive. There’s only one way forward, and it’s to start with food preps right now! Here are 5 ideas to feed your guests when you’re short on time. 


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#1. Repurpose your weekly cooking plan

Most families have a weekly cooking plan. It’s practical as it means you can get things prepared ahead, from grocery shopping to ingredient preps. For instance, if you tend to cook large quantities of meals ready for freezing, such as lasagna, chilli con carne, or stews, you’ve already got a meal for your guests. Pop a dish in the oven, and tada, you’ve only got to dress the table. Pair it with a large salad and a quick side dish to ensure that your guests have plenty of food.  


Another advantage of weekly meal plans is that you could already have prepared ingredients in the fridge, such as minced garlic or chopped onions in Tupperware boxes. This can save you a ton of time when you’re in a pickle for a quick meal. 


#2. Wipe a quick meal

Contrary to common belief, you can get a delicious meal ready well under 60 minutes. Most of us tend to associate family dinner with Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations, which require a whole day of cooking. But quick meals can be just as delicious and satisfying. Keep things simple, practical, but don’t compromise on taste either. 


Here are some favorites that will be ready in time for your guests. 


Meal idea #1:

  • Fish filets poached in either creamy white sauce or spicy tomato salsa
  • A quick bread recipe 
  • Julienne of vegetables (thinly sliced) sautéed


Meal idea #2:

  • Quick antipasti with arranged nuts, fresh cucumber and celery sticks, and fresh cheese
  • A large spaghetti bolognese or carbonara dish 
  • A green leaves salad


Meal idea #3:

  • Chicken fillets wrapped in bacon
  • Served with polenta or mash
  • A warm mushrooms, nuts, and pear salad


#3. Tapas everyone

The reason why tapas dishes are so popular in Spain is the convivial setting. Tapas are meant to be an effortless meal that is shared between the guests. Therefore, most dishes take only a few minutes to prepare. 


When your fridge looks empty, tapas are also the ideal choice because you can work with smaller quantities of ingredients. A few olives in a bowl are a fantastic starter, paired with a plate of cured meat and some cubed cheese. As for the warm dishes, you can quickly fry a handful of prawns along with thinly cut tomatoes and minced garlic for a spicy and warm tomato salsa prawn dish. Fried mushrooms in parsley and garlic are the ideal pairing. 


#4. Panic’s over: Get a takeaway

Are your guests coming for the food or to see you? Most people would be happy to share a takeaway pizza as long as they are in great company. So don’t sweat it. You can order a few pizzas for the evening, pair them with some nibbles, and you’ve got the perfect dinner party. 

Pizza ranks among the preferred takeaway food for Americans, so you can’t go wrong with a pepperoni and quattro formaggi delivery. Besides, a pizza sets the scene for a convivial meal, making it the best food for a catch-up with friends and relatives. 


#5. Surprise them with a Korean feast

If you’ve been watching the Squid Game on Netflix, you might be considering a Korean feast. Banchan, the Korean side dishes, are perfect for a last-minute meal that will impress your guests. Most side dishes can be ready in a matter of minutes, such as seasoned spinach, cucumber salad, and fried zucchini. Prepare a few side dishes and serve with a bowl of rice for each guest. You will have a delicious and nutritious feast that is so easy to prepare. No one will be the wiser for it. Just like tapas, Korean side dishes are a fantastic solution when you’re running low on ingredients.


Whipping a meal in under one hour doesn’t need to be stressful. You can adjust your cooking style to your guests’ preferences. Whether they enjoy traditional recipes or are happy to try different flavors, you’ll have a yummy dinner ready for them. 

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