Quick Dinner Ideas to Help You Host Last Minute (with Style)


By Linnea Covington

Have you ever had your spouse come home and announce that a gaggle of hungry guests is following close behind? The intimate meal you had been planning for the two of you gets thrown out.

You need quick dinner ideas. And fast.

Hosting the perfect dinner party is always a tricky endeavor, but doubly so when you’re under a time crunch. Thankfully, there are a number of easy meals and domestic implements you can use to pull it all off at the last minute—and look good doing it.

Eat Like A Celebrity

Oftentimes, when you open up a cookbook, the fabulous recipes look good but appear too hard to attempt, especially if you have kids running around or feel exhausted after a busy day at work.

It's All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow

Lucky for you, most of the meals in Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy actually prove uncomplicated while utilizing fresh ingredients. The book abounds with quick dinner ideas and individual dishes that maintain an elegance you can show off at an sophisticated party or when your mother-in-law stops in unexpectedly.

For example, a pasta dish accented with fresh lemon, crisp rapini, and salty parmesan comes together quickly and pairs stunningly with a glass of rose wine. Recipes featuring roasted cauliflower with lime and curry remain light, flavorful, and great for either a vegetarian main course or side dish.

If you want to make cooking even more effortless, have your groceries delivered via FreshDirect.

Michael Kors Collection Sleeveless Gingham Button-Front Shirtdress, Black/Nutmeg from Neiman Marcus

Keep It Easy, Breezy, Beautiful

Aside from making easy meals that guests actually want to eat, the consummate host can always be found wearing the latest styles that look like they’re straight out of a magazine.

While the weather doesn’t call for cashmere just yet, you can copy the laid-back look made popular by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow by donning a cool summer outfit such as a sleeveless gingham button-front shirtdress by Michael Kors, or a flowing embroidered tunic.

When preparing your meal, a cute tie-around apron helps protect the delicate cloth from olive oil, chili powder, and chocolate.

Add Dashing Domestic Delights

As for the kitchen itself, adding stylish gadgets and chic tea towels can turn a dull space into one you might find a stunning movie star sipping iced coffee and perfecting a pot du crème in. The Spiralizer Handheld Vegetable Slicer by Home-it doesn’t just look like a high-end cooking tool, it produces strands of finely-sliced veggies that bring quick dinner ideas to life by updating old recipes with new flavors and textures.

Aside from the chic design, the spiralizer makes creating meals easier and faster. Oftentimes, these delicate slices can be substituted in place for pasta, giving common dishes a tasty (and healthy) twist. Add some warm red sauce and pecorino romano cheese to a bowl of spiralized vegetables, and you’re ready to eat—no need to boil and strain a pot of noodles.

Spiralizer Handheld Vegetable Slicer by Home-it from Wayfair

Acacia Serveware Flair Salad Bowl by Lipper International from WayfairThen, of course, there’s the table setting to consider. You can bet Gwyneth Paltrow serves her greens in stylish bowls like this Acacia Serveware Flair Salad Bowl by Lipper International on top of place settings sporting vintage flower patterns.

Speaking of flora, give your service a boost by placing vases of fresh blooms in the center—just make sure they aren’t too tall. After all, a good hostess always lets the guests see that special twinkle in her eye.

By keeping these nuances in mind, easy meals can be just as elegant as one you spent all day on.

Deck your dinner table with chic salad bowls à la Gwyneth Paltrow, like the Acacia Serveware Flair Salad Bowl by Lipper International, available through Wayfair. Click here to scope them out!


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