17 Themed Dinner Ideas for Meal Planning

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.

Simplify meal planning with these theme nights for dinners and quickly create your menu plan!

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.

Meatless/Vegetarian Night:

  • Veggie burgers
  • Pasta salad
  • Egg salad sandwiches

More meatless meal ideas: 200 Meatless Meals for Families on a Budget

Chicken Night

  • Chicken strips
  • Roasted chicken
  • Lemon pepper chicken

More chicken dinner ideas: 170+ Family and Budget Friendly Chicken Recipes

Beef Night

  • Steak
  • Pot roast
  • Sloppy Joes

More beef dinner ideas: 30 Simple Ground Beef Recipes

Pork Night

  • Ham
  • Pork chops
  • Pulled pork sandwiches

Pasta Night

  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Lasagna
  • Macaroni and cheese

Seafood Night

  • Fish sticks
  • Salmon
  • 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.

Italian Night

  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Chicken parmesan
  • Pizza

Asian Night

  • Beef and broccoli
  • Chicken stir fry
  • Vegetable fried rice

Mexican Night

  • Tacos
  • 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.

Soup Night

  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Chili
  • Beef stew

Salad Night

  • Chicken salad
  • Caesar salad
  • Taco salad

Sandwich Night

  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Italian Beef sandwiches
  • Hamburgers

Breakfast for Dinner Night

  • Omelets
  • 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!

Grilling Night

  • BBQ Chicken
  • Hamburgers
  • Steak

Make it Yourself Night (great for the kids!)

  • Taco bar
  • Mini pizzas
  • Baked potato bar

Casserole Night

  • Mac and cheese
  • Baked ziti
  • Shepherd’s pie

More casserole dinner ideas: 100 Cheap & Easy Casserole Recipes

Crockpot Night

  • Salsa chicken
  • Pineapple porkchops

More crockpot dinner ideas: 125 Crockpot Recipes (5 ingredients or less)

Leftover Night

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:

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