It may not always be the case, but difficult in-laws are the stereotype. That is why having the in-laws over for dinner can be as stressful as cooking for a dictator. This is even worse when the in-laws have a track record of being judgmental. In these scenarios, the cook wants everything to be perfect so the judgments are kept to a minimum and the evening goes smoothly. Thankfully, he or she does not have to go to extraordinary lengths to impress. In fact, the cook can whip up a few things in order to look busy and let the main course be handled with a tasty precooked meat
A roast can take all day to cook. That leaves less time for cleaning, decorating, getting the kids dressed appropriately and whatever else the judgmental in-laws require for happiness. The worst part is that if the meat's flavor is off or it was cooked too much, there is no saving it. There is absolutely no way to replace a roast on short notice. At least, it is impossible if it is to be cooked on site. In this way, precooked meat can not only be a way out of cooking all day, but it can also be a lifesaver if cooking all day ends badly. They are reliably delicious and cooked to the right temperature. There is nothing to worry about, except getting it on the table.
Then there are those times when cooking for judgmental in-laws is just impossible. Despite all of the best intentions, some people really cannot cook. Trying to fake it is a very bad idea. Learning to cook is something that should be done on a casual evening with understanding diners. It is not something one wants to do with mom and dad in-law waiting in the wings to eat. Forget about a crash course in cooking. Get a tasty precooked meat and fake it in a more reliable way. Let someone else cook it. Then, if they complain anyway, there is always humor in the thought they do not realize it was cooked elsewhere to rely on for relief from the complaints.
Whether the in-laws care to admit it or not, they cannot help but be secretly impressed by a perfectly cooked, delicious meat on their dinner plates. They may even blurt out a compliment or a yum, forgetting that they mean to be difficult. The worst-case scenario is that they stick to their judgmental ways and the family still gets to enjoy a delicious dinner. They cannot ruin good tasting food, even if they can ruin the atmosphere at the table.
If possible, go with a type of meat they have mentioned liking before. Try to ensure the flavors are in the range they may have enjoyed before. If they are admitted lovers of something specific, they have nothing to complain about if it is delivered to them. Just be careful not to make the side dishes as brilliant. They might start coming back every night.