Having the In-Laws Over for Dinner? Here's What To Make

By Carolyn Stine November 7, 2018 

Here's how to handle planning and executing that high-stress dinner with your significant other’s folks.

Whether you’re meeting them for the first time, or you’ve met them many a time, hosting your significant other’s parents can feel like a ridiculously daunting task. Small talk by itself can be intimidating, let alone cooking a meal and trying to please everyone. So what do we do in a situation like this? We break. it. down. Feast your eyes on your comprehensive guide to entertaining your SO’s parents, broken down by types of eaters. Whether you’re entertaining picky eaters or the quintessential foodie types, you’ll have recipes in your back pocket for making dinner go off without a hitch.

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The Foodies

They like what’s funky, new, and interesting

Food. Is. Life. The rest is just details. That authentic Thai spot deep in Queens? They’ve already eaten the spiciest dish on their menu. That new vegan donut spot in the Village? Been there, done that. This doesn’t mean that you need to drive yourself crazy cooking the most cutting edge dinner imaginable, though. We love the idea of making them a unique and fabulously flavored one-pot meal, such as Aash-E Reshteh. This Persian bean, noodle, and fresh herb soup is an absolute flavor bomb, and gets bonus points for being simple for you to make.

The Small Towners

They like meat n’ potatoes

Sometimes you have to keep it simple, and the anchovy paste and nori get quietly tucked away in the back of your cabinet. Enter: old-school classics that please even the pickiest of palates. We love a punched-up roast chicken, which has been marinated in buttermilk and is so juicy it’s unbelievable. Roast some garlicky smashed potatoes to have on the side, and you’ll be the queen of the simple yet supremely satisfying meal.

The Vegetarians

Mooove over animal protein

Raise your hand if menu planning normally looks something like this: choose a protein, and plan the rest of the meal around it. Yup, us too. It can be a little intimidating to think about how to make your veggie main “special” enough. But never fear, we got you. We adore the idea of  gourmet homemade pizzas (who doesn’t like pizza?!), and this version topped with herb-y carrot top pesto and chile fits the bill perfectly.

The Pro Chefs

They’re much better cooks than you

Whether they’re professional chefs or they just religiously watch Chef’s Table, these are the folks who host all of the holidays and entertain on the regular (fact: they can practically roast a turkey in their sleep). But resist the urge to make the most “impressive” recipe in your arsenal (read: skip the souffle), and err on the side of something that is dazzling in its simplicity, which will take the pressure off of you. This pan-sauteed fish with a nutty brown butter sauce and crisp kohlrabi salad is an absolute winner, and one that you may find yourself making long after the SO’s parents have departed your kitchen.

The Healthy Eaters

They’re perpetually “watching what they eat”

No eggs benedict at Sunday brunch here, and don’t even think about a cheeseburger. These health mavens are all about keeping it light and healthy, but that doesn’t mean that you have to serve them a salad. A flavorful piece of roasted salmon, served on a bed of crispy kale with a bit of coconut rice, is sure to make them feel healthy, yet supremely satisfied.

The Indulgers

Bring on the cheese, carbs, and dessert!

You know you’re out with these folks when every meal feels like a special occasion! There’s never not an excuse to go all out and order to your heart’s content. So we recommend whipping up a meal that is both hearty, comforting, and 110% delicious. We love this classic baked ziti (and we also love the leftovers the next day), and don’t forget a heavenly tiramisu to go along with it for dessert.

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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