Meet the Parents: A Menu for Making a Good First Impression

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

So things are looking good with you and your special someone. Hooray! Good enough that you’ve decided it’s time to introduce each other to your respective parents. Double hooray! And you’ve decided that the perfect setting for these introductions would be a cozy home-cooked meal. Um… gulp. Let’s talk about a menu that will make sure the whole evening goes smoothly, shall we?

The Menu




(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Scene

You’re nervous, your special someone is nervous, your parents are probably nervous. Let’s just sit down and have dinner together, shall we? Good food is the ultimate ice breaker.

(Image credit: Sabra Krock)

Making It Happen

The last thing you really want to worry about once the parents show up is cooking. So let’s keep the menu simple — nothing too scary or adventurous here, but still a menu that can show off your skillz — and let’s make sure that all the dishes can be finished well ahead of time.

For the appetizers, I included some recipes that you can make yourself, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying some crackers and simple snacky appetizers in this situation! Make them you’re feeling it, but skip them if it feels intimidating. These particular recipes for crackers and nuts can be made a few days ahead.

For the main course, a simple pot roast hits all the right spots. It’s easy to make, but still looks impressive when you bring it to the table, plus it comes with its own vegetable side dish. These individual pot roasts will be ready in two hours so you can feel confident making it the same day you’ll serve it. This said, it also keeps well — you can make it the day or two before, refrigerate it right in the pot with the lid on, and then warm it up in the oven at 300°F for about an hour.

The rolls and salad can be made several hours before dinner. Wrap the rolls loosely in foil and warm them up in the oven for a few minutes before serving. (You can set them right alongside the pot roast.)

This no-bake Boston Cream Pie is one of those incredibly simple dishes that totally hits it out of the ballpark. You can make it up to two days ahead, as well. If you can find good strawberries where you live, this No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake is also amazingly good.

With dinner taken care of, all that’s left is to lower the lights a little and put on some good music. Take a look through our 5 Tips for Creating Great Dinner Party Atmosphere for some more mood-setting ideas.

I am a Midwestern girl and this is obviously a fairly middle-of-the-road classic American dinner — very similar to the dinner I served my own parents when introducing them to my now-husband. But an easy, elegant dinner means different things to everyone, so now it’s your turn!

What have you served for a meet-the-parents dinner? What would you recommend?

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