Easy Meals for House Guests - 20 Menu Ideas with Recipes (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Susie Weinrich · This post may contain affiliate links. 28 Comments

Whether it is for the holidays or just a long weekend, there will be a time when you have a house full of guests. A big part of preparing for those guests is meal planning.

What am I going to feed all those people!?

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Well, let me help you know what to feed your house guests with a few practical tips, menus and recipes.

Let’s Get Started!

Table of Contents hide

1 Tips for Feeding House Guest

2 How to Start Planning for House Guests

4 Breakfast

5 Lunch

6 Dinner

7 Happy Hour Drinks!

8 Something Sweet

9 Subscribe To Stay Connected!

Tips for Feeding House Guest

Do not get overwhelmed, taking it step by step and making a plan will make this so much easier. Here are a few tips when planning meals for your guests:

  1. Plan ahead for each meal- this way you will not wake up in the morning and realize that you only planned for dinners and you have nothing but Cheerios without milk, and coffee for breakfast.
  2. Make a detailed grocery list for each meal and snacks… nobody wants to make last minute trips to the grocery store!
  3. Plan for 50/50, at least for some of the meals, 50% store bought items and 50% homemade (hopefully some can be made ahead).
  4. Plan at least one meal out, especially if your guests are staying for a long time.
  5. Make what you can ahead of time.
  6. When your guests ask what they can bring, don’t say “nothing!”. Even if it is a snack, dessert, wine, or a specialty co*cktail, accept the help.
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How to Start Planning for House Guests

First, plan for how many meals your guests will be staying with you. Then, if there are any special events when you will be eating out, remove those from your list.

Next, go thru and plan what you will have for each meal. Try to plan a few easy things that can be made ahead, some things that can be store-bought that do not require any prep, and the rest homemade. Make sure to include any snacks that you will want to have in the house during their stay. Also, if this is an adult occasion, think about drinks too.

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Then, make grocery lists that are extremely detailed. Go thru each recipe and write down all the items you need to purchase that you do not already have. Make sure to add those snacks and drinks!

Now, head to the grocery store completely prepared and armed with your list!

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Meal Ideas for House Guests, with Recipes

Here are a few recipes and meal ideas to make planning for and having house guests a breeze!


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Breakfast starts the day. Please do not forget that your guests will be hungry in the morning! And that they will want coffee…always coffee.

Breakfast #1 Make Ahead

  • Sausage Egg Cups or Overnight Breakfast Casserole (make ahead)
  • Vanilla Yogurt with Granola
  • Morning Glory Muffins or Cranberry Orange Muffins (make ahead)
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Coffee (with half and half and sugar available)

Breakfast #2 Fast

  • Company Oatmeal (15 minutes)
  • Bacon
  • Banana Bread Muffins OR Morning Glory Muffins (make ahead)
  • Store Bought Pastries
  • Coffee (with half and half and sugar available)

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Breakfast #3 Big Breakfast

Breakfast #4 In the Kitchen

More Breakfast Recipes


Lunch is a tough one, I usually don’t recommend planning for lunches unless it is the main event. A lot of times I find that lunch gets lost in the scramble of the day OR everyone sleeps in and has a late breakfast. Lunch is usually best planned out.

However, if you feel like you should have lunch for your guests, here are some really easy options:

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Lunch #1 Sandwiches

  • Hot Artichoke Chicken Salad Sandwiches (just use rotisserie chicken for ease)
  • OR Chicken Salad with Grapes
  • Sweet Potato Chips
  • Grapes or any in-season fruit

Lunch #2 Instant Pot

  • OR Creamy Red Potato Soup OR find one of the many soup recipes on Mom’s Dinner! (make ahead or quick lunch)
  • Warm Baguette
  • Kale Salad (store bought)

Lunch #3 Healthy

  • Grilled Buttermilk Chicken (grill chicken a couple days ahead) OR Egg Salad
  • Kettle Chips or Terra Vegetable Chips
  • Green Salad (store bought)

Lunch #4 Skillet

  • Mediterranean Shrimp Skillet
  • Warm Crusty Bread (store bought)

Lunch #5 Make Ahead

  • Chili, Turkey Chili OR Instant Pot Chili (make ahead)
  • Indulgent Cinnamon Buns OR Sweet Corn Muffins (both make ahead)
  • Veggie Tray with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dip (make ahead)


Dinner tends to be the main event, where you will spend the most time, energy, and money. I definitely like to have a homemade dinner, however if you are entertaining guests for a long time do not be afraid to bring in take-out, suggest one dinner out, or do a 50% take out/50% homemade dinner.

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Dinner #1 Take-Out BBQ

  • Pulled Pork from your favorite BBQ Restaurant (or you could make Instant Pot BBQ Pork or BBQ Chicken ahead)
  • Buns, Pickles, BBQ Sauce
  • Corn Casserole or Homemade Creamed Corn (both make ahead)
  • Raspberry Jello Fluff (make ahead)
  • Cheesy Potato Casserole
  • Optional Cucumber and Onions Salad (make ahead)

Dinner #2 Instant Pot

  • Italian Meatballs (or Instant Pot Version) OR Instant Pot Turkey Meatballs (all make ahead)
  • Spaghetti
  • Garlic Green Beans
  • Caesar Salad (store bought) or Homemade Caesar Salad
  • Garlic Bread (store bought)

Dinner #3 Simple Dutch Oven Dinner

  • Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Roast
  • Cranberry Kale Salad (store bought)
  • Warm Ciabatta Bread & Butter

Dinner #4 Holiday

  • Ham with Glaze
  • Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes OR Cheesy Potato Casserole
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus
  • Raspberry Jello Salad (make ahead)
  • Broccoli Bacon Salad (make ahead)
  • Rolls & Butter

Dinner #5 Holiday Part 2

  • Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
  • Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes (or the Instant Pot version)
  • Gravy (make ahead)
  • Sausage Stuffing or Traditional Stuffing (make ahead)
  • Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
  • Cranberries (make ahead)
  • Rolls & Butter (store bought)

Dinner #6 Healthy BBQ Grill

  • Grilled Buttermilk Chicken OR Mango BBQ chicken kabobs
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus or Oven Roasted Broccoli
  • Garlic Couscous (store bought) or Tortellini Pasta Salad
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Dinner #7 Casual Soup & Sandwich

  • 5 Minute Tomato Basil Soup with Garlic Croutons
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Dinner #8 Grilled Burgers & Fries

  • (make bacon jam ahead) OR Grilled Pork Burgers with Garlic Cream Sauce (make sauce ahead) OR Perfect Grilled Burgers
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Grilled Vegetable Skewers (peppers, onion, zucchini, mushrooms) or Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

Dinner #9 Simple Soup for a Crowd

  • Chicken Noodle Soup & Creamy Red Potato Soup (make both ahead)
  • Crackers & Cheese Slices
  • Tea Buns with Ham & Turkey, Mustard, and Mayonnaise

Dinner #10 Italian

  • Traditional Lasagna OR Veggie Lasagna OR Italian Meatloaf
  • Caesar Salad (store bought)
  • Garlic Green Beans
  • Garlic Bread

Dinner #11 Mexican

  • My Favorite Chicken Enchiladas OR Chicken Enchilada Suiza
  • Chips & Restaurant Style Salsa (make ahead)
  • 15 Minute Refried Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Optional – Fresh Pineapple with Citrus Herb Glaze (make ahead)
  • Pineapple Margaritas

Dinner #12 Mexican Part 2

  • Shredded Barbacoa Beef (make ahead) OR Carnitas OR Grilled Steak Tacos
  • small flour tortillas (store bought)
  • taco toppings you love (store bought)
  • Guacamole, Pico De Gallo and Tomatillo Salsa (all make ahead)
  • Refried Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Margaritas

Dinner #13 Cajun Instant Pot

  • Green Lettuce Salad with Vinaigrette
  • Best Ever Cornbread Or Sweet Cornbread Muffins OR Buttermilk Cornbread(make ahead)

Dinner #14 Dinner Party

  • Crispy Chicken with Goat Cheese
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus
  • Rice Pilaf (store bought)
  • Warm Ciabatta Bread with a dish of extra virgin olive oil seasoned with basil, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Dinner #15 Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

  • Fried Chicken from a restaurant or local grocery store
  • 2-Minute Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (make ahead)
  • Cole Slaw (store bought)
  • Cheesy Potato Casserole
  • Old Fashioned Baked Bean (mix ahead)
  • Jiffy Corn Casserole (make ahead)
  • Best Ever Corn Bread and honey (make ahead, and make extra to serve for breakfast with maple syrup)

Baked Potato Bar

  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Chili

More Dinner Recipes

Happy Hour Drinks!

Drinks can be just as important as food, especially if you are entertaining adults.

Make sure your bar is stocked. Here are some things I have found are the very basic bare essentials: red wine, good silver tequila, vodka, gin and whiskey, club soda, tonic water, soda (ex. co*ke), olives, lemons, limes and oranges.

Of course stock your bar with more exciting things if you want to make fun co*cktails, like: Cointreau, simple syrup or agave, bitters, brandied cherries, juices, jalapeno slices, liqueurs like amaretto, and vermouth, etc….

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  • Big Batch Grapefruit Margaritas
  • Margarita on the Rocks or Frozen Margaritas
  • Pineapple Margarita
  • Jalapeno Tequila (make ahead)
  • Red Wine Winter Sangria (make ahead)
  • Jalapeno Tequila Mule – aka Mexican Mule
  • Raspberry Vodka Soda
  • Rosemary Paloma or Classic Paloma

More co*cktail Recipes

Something Sweet

Dessert is the only thing they will remember, some say. All of these options can be made ahead:

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  • Scotcheroos
  • Thin Mint Cookies
  • Apple Pie Bars
  • Cherry Pie Bars
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Star Cookies
  • Triple Berry Cobbler
  • Homemade Chocolate Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting
  • Salted Caramel Blondies
  • Easy Hot Cocoa Cookies
  • Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

More Dessert Recipes

I hope these tips and menus help you host and feed your house guests with ease!

Love- Susie

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Easy Meals for House Guests - 20 Menu Ideas with Recipes (2024)


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