Simplify meal planning with these themed dinner ideas and create your menu plan fast!
Do you feel like you’re cooking the same meals week in and week out? Or maybe you’re in a meal planning rut and can’t think of new ideas for your dinner menu?
One of my favorite ways to create a meal plan quickly is to come up with themed dinner nights. Everyone knows of Taco Tuesday, right??
When developing your meal plan, it makes it easier to come up with a dinner idea when you are sticking to a certain dinner theme for each night.
Theme nights simplify meal planning
You can create meal plan themes by how it’s prepared such crockpot meals, stir-fry meals, instant pot, casserole, or freezer meals. Ethnic themes are another easy way to think of meals for your menu plan: Italian, Asian, Mexican, American, etc. You can also plan your meals based around a particular protein each night like beef, seafood, vegetarian, or chicken.
You can mix and match these meal plan theme ideas to create your personalized plan for the week!
Dinner night themes based on main ingredients
Create your theme nights using your favorite main ingredients. Mix and match or come up with your own based on your family’s food preferences.
- Veggie burgers
- Pasta salad
- Egg salad sandwiches
More meatless meal ideas: 200 Meatless Meals for Families on a Budget
- Chicken strips
- Roasted chicken
- Lemon pepper chicken
More chicken dinner ideas: 170+ Family and Budget Friendly Chicken Recipes
- Pot roast
- Sloppy Joes
More beef dinner ideas: 30 Simple Ground Beef Recipes
- Pork chops
- Pulled pork sandwiches
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Macaroni and cheese
- Fish sticks
- Tuna casserole
More seafood dinner recipes: 50+ Must Try Easy Seafood Recipes
International dinner night themes
In my house, we can’t go without Taco Tuesday! These international ideas will get you started, but feel free to add your favorite ethnic foods or branch out and try new international foods.
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Chicken parmesan
- Beef and broccoli
- Chicken stir fry
- Vegetable fried rice
- Enchiladas (beef/chicken)
- Quesadillas (beef/chicken/cheese)
Dinner night themes by food type
There’s so many theme ideas you can come up with based on food type. These are some of the most common ones for your meal plan.
- Chicken noodle soup
- Beef stew
- Chicken salad
- Caesar salad
- Taco salad
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Italian Beef sandwiches
Breakfast for Dinner Night
- Pancakes & Sausage
- French Toast
Dinner night themes based on cooking method
Create your theme nights using your favorite cooking method. Whether you prefer to grill, use the crockpot, or make casseroles, pick the theme that you like to use!
- BBQ Chicken
Make it Yourself Night (great for the kids!)
- Taco bar
- Mini pizzas
- Baked potato bar
- Mac and cheese
- Baked ziti
- Shepherd’s pie
More casserole dinner ideas: 100 Cheap & Easy Casserole Recipes
- Salsa chicken
- Pineapple porkchops
More crockpot dinner ideas: 125 Crockpot Recipes (5 ingredients or less)
Whatever is left from during the week gets finished up. Usually in my house, there’s not enough of one meal to go around, so each person gets their pick from the leftovers in the fridge.
Sample meal planning themes
- Monday – Vegetarian
- Tuesday – Breakfast
- Wednesday – Beef
- Thursday – Soup and sandwiches
- Friday – Pizza
- Saturday – Chicken
- Sunday – Leftovers
- Monday – Mexican
- Tuesday – Chicken
- Wednesday – Whatever Wednesday (leftovers)
- Thursday – Meatless
- Friday – Burgers
- Saturday – Asian
- Sunday – Casserole
Printable to Create Your Meal Plan
Ready to get started?
Check out my free printables to help you get organized with your meal plan: