28 easy meals for last-minute get-togethers

two women cooking together in kitchen

We’ve all been there: You’re looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening of doing nothing but kicking your shoes off, pouring a glass of wine, and zoning out while watching TV. Then, your bestie calls and says it’s time for a last-minute get-together. You’re totally caught off-guard, but you don’t want to say “no,” either. What do you do? Do you even have ingredients in the kitchen to make anything worthwhile? No worries. We have a list of super-easy go-to recipes for whenever this happens. Scroll through, see what suits your fancy, and then get that apron on.

First: Pick your category. Are your guests into beef, chicken, pork, seafood, vegetarian, or vegan? Scroll through our categories and see what sounds good.

Second: Do you have all the ingredients you need? Is there anybody who can stop at the store for you? If you need more items but don’t want to run out or send someone on an errand, get on the internet and order what you need from Instacart. You can change into fresh clothes and start prepping what you do have while you wait, which is much better than wasting precious time at the store!

Note: Be sure to check around for a promo code before you place your Instacart order. If it happens to be your first time ordering, you can save money on this order (and maybe future orders) using their welcome promo code. It’s worth looking for, last we checked!

Third: If you want to keep it super simple and stick with just the ingredients you already have, check out SuperCook. You enter your ingredients, and the website will tell you what you can make with the items in your kitchen. It’s kind of fun to see which recipes they will suggest based on what you have in your cupboards!

And now, without further ado, we’re ready to give you each category of recipes, starting with beef and heading all the way down to vegan and then Instant Pot recipes. Scroll down to see what catches your eye.

Beef

Aberdeen’s Kitchen: Balsamic steak gorgonzola salad with grilled corn

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Two Peas and Their Pod: One-pot sausage pasta (can use beef, chicken, or pork sausage)

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

The Butcher’s Wife: Fast-and-easy beef Stroganoff

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Salt & Lavender: Easy beef bowls

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Chicken

Fit Foodie Finds: Healthy Kung Pao chicken

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Creme de la Crumb: Chicken salad with grapes

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Then serve! This is served on croissants, but you can swap it out for any other bread.

Small Town Woman: Easy pan-fried chicken and cream gravy

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

White Apron Blog: Chicken Marsala

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Seafood

The Spruce Eats: Sheet pan teriyaki salmon 

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Yellow Bliss Road: Yellow crispy fried shrimp

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

Taste and Tell Blog: Parmesan-crusted tilapia

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes

Lauren’s Latest: Fish tacos

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Pork

The Midnight Baker: Quick sweet and sour pork

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Midwest Foodie: Pork dumplings 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Rasa Malaysia: Garlic butter pork chops 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

Simply Recipes: Pork schnitzel

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Vegetarian and vegan

Some of these can easily become non-vegetarian/vegan by tossing in chicken, beef, shrimp, or whatever protein you like. These veggie dishes are simple to make for any palate — then, just swap in or out whatever you want.

Damn Delicious: Easy burrito bowls

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

A Couple Cooks: Vegan sloppy joe with lentils

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Simple Vegan Blog: Vegan jambalaya

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

Daily Dose of Greens: Lazy vegan lasagna

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes

Instant Pot meals

If you’re lucky enough to have an Instant Pot during a time like this, you can really save time and make something great. We’ve found our easiest dish is a quick veggie pasta, which can easily be topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese or even meatballs if you have the time and ingredients.

Note: for most Instant Pot recipes (not all, just most — read each one carefully, please), the cook time given does not include the 10 minutes it takes for the Instant Pot to build pressure or the up to 10 minutes it takes to naturally pressure-release (if that is recommended) after cooking. That can mean an extra 20 minutes of cook time, depending on your Instant Pot and the recipe.

Instapottin’ with Poonam: Very veggie pasta (vegetarian/vegan)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

The Salty Marshmallow: Instant Pot stuffed pepper soup (beef)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes

iFoodReal: Instant Pot chicken and potatoes (chicken)

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Simple Happy Foodie: Instant Pot clam chowder (seafood and bacon)

  • Prep time: 13 minutes
  • Cook time: 17 minutes

The Kitchen Girl: White bean and kale soup (vegan)

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

Platings and Pairings: Pork chops and gravy (pork)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 minutes

Healthier Steps: Vegan split pea soup (vegan)

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

We made this soup without the nutritional yeast, and it turned out delicious!

Mama Instincts: Instant Pot Italian goulash (beef)

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Now that you’ve seen what delicacies can be made in a short amount of time, why not try some of these, or go forth and search for something else you might like. Who knows, you might end up liking last-minute get-togethers better than the ones you plan out in advance with these great recipes! Be sure to come back and read our cooking updates whenever you need more ideas — and we look forward to hearing about your skillet adventures!

group of people cooking together

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