Making a list of your family's favorite dinners is a helpful tip to make meal planning easy! Check out my list of over 100 dinner ideas below to get you started.

Burritos on a counter, from Fun Cheap or Free

Meal planning can be a little overwhelming for everyone – for me too! It is not my favorite thing to do, but I have found a few things that make it a tad bit easier to answer that nagging question “What's for dinner!?!”

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I am all about easy, no fuss, kid-friendly food that keeps everyone happy! I hope these ideas help you as much as they help me… get out of your dinnertime rut, and try out a new dinner idea! You may find your next family fav!

MEAL PLANNING TIP

Dinner ideas printable hanging on a fridge, from Fun Cheap or Free

You ready for it? It's so easy. I keep a big list of dinner ideas by my fridge. This is SUPER DUPER helpful in terms of coming up with a variety of meals that can be made with things I typically have on-hand. It's also a great way to come up with uses for leftovers.

While I am bad at planning ahead for dinner (getting better though!), I firmly believe it's important to cook for your family rather than eating out or preparing processed meals. It's not only cheaper, but it teaches your family healthy habits and keeps you close as a family!

  • Keep a meal list like this close at-hand! You can even separate them out based on main ingredient, meals that can be frozen, how they are cooked (crockpot, baked, grilled, etc.), meals good enough to serve guests, etc.
  • I also have a recipe notebook where I keep my favorite recipes so they are all in one place. If the recipe comes from a cookbook, I photocopy it and keep it in the binder. That way you never have to say, “Now, where was that awesome chicken recipe again?….”

Making your own list is so easy–just think of your very favorite dinner ideas and get them all written down in one place. But if you need some ideas to get you started, I've got a list of over 100 awesome dinner ideas. I said I'd share this list with you, so here it is!

Dinner ideas printable from Fun Cheap or Free

If you want an even more customized dinner ideas list, check out our new post on ShelfCooking.com – we break it down by themed dinner ideas to help.

LIST OF DINNER IDEAS

Here is the list I have to help me come up with what to make for dinner. If any of these require recipes I will try to post them over time and will update this list with links to the recipes. Otherwise, I recommend allrecipes.com for recipes. Be sure to read the reviews!

EASY PAN DINNER IDEAS

Quesadillas on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free
  • Hard Tacos or Tostadas
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Stir Fry
  • Burritos
  • Fajitas
  • Burgers or Hotdogs
  • Quesadillas (plain cheese, or steak, chicken)
  • Meatballs and Rice
  • KFC Bowls (mashed potatoes on the bottom, then corn and breaded chicken bites on top)
  • Sloppy Joes

Pro Tip: Burritos freeze really well! Add all your ingredients to a tortilla, roll it into a burrito, wrap in cling wrap and add to a freezer bag. It's one of our favorite traveling dinner ideas!

CROCKPOT DINNER IDEAS

  • Chicken and Rice
  • Pulled BBQ Chicken (sandwiches, put on a salad, etc.)
  • Pot Roast (leftovers can be made into sandwiches)
  • Crockpot Salsa Chicken (makes into great burritos or salads!)
  • Ribs (grilled, baked, crockpot, etc)
  • French Dip Sandwiches (roast in crockpot + au jus sauce = french dip)

Pro Tip: Throw a liner in your crockpot for easy clean up! All of these easy dinner ideas can also be made in the Instant Pot if that's your jam.

BAKED DINNER IDEAS

Homemade pizza on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free

Pro Tip: Learn to love your leftovers by taking pretty much any leftover meat and turning it into a casserole! It'll bring a whole new meaning to your weekly leftovers night when you dress it up into something else.

CHICKEN DINNER IDEAS

  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Fried Chicken (baked or actually fried)
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu (easier than you would think, and so impressive! Great for guests.)
  • Breaded chicken (can bread with Italian bread crumbs, graham crackers, saltines, potato chips)
  • Chicken nuggets (homemade…so easy!)
  • Chicken wings
  • Cheesy bacon chicken
  • Dijon Chicken
  • Chicken Fingers
  • Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
  • Orange Chicken
  • Cilantro-Lime chicken
  • Lemon Chicken

Pro Tip: Pre-cook some chicken breasts, shred it in your stand mixer, and freeze it in meal-sized portions! It'll make dinner prep that much easier.

BEEF/PORK DINNER IDEAS

Ham on a plate, from Fun Cheap or Free

Pro Tip: Ham is the meat that keeps on giving. Make a large ham for your next Sunday dinner and be amazed at all the leftover ham recipes you can make with it!

FISH DINNER IDEAS

  • Salmon
  • Salmon Patties
  • Fish Sticks (homemade or store-bought)
  • Fish ‘N Chips
  • Crab Cakes
  • Fish Tacos
  • Smoked Salmon Bagel

Pro Tip: Fish freezes really well! Don't be afraid to buy extra if it's ever on sale and it fits within the budget. As long as you freeze it properly to prevent freezer burn, you'll always have what you need on hand!

SOUP DINNER IDEAS

Taco soup in a bowl, from Fun Cheap or Free
  • Taco Soup
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (homemade…serve with grilled cheese)
  • Creamy Potato Soup
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Clam Chowder
  • Tomato Bisque
  • Italian Wedding Soup
  • Chicken Enchilada/Tortilla Soup
  • Cheeseburger Soup
  • Corn Chowder (various recipes, ham & corn chowder is good too)
  • Tortellini Soup
  • French Onion Soup
  • Jambalaya

Pro Tip: You can turn pretty much anything into soup! Leftover meat, limp veggies, random pasta… Build your own soup and it'll make the best that you've ever had!

PASTA DINNER IDEAS

  • Homemade Mac ‘N Cheese (don't forget the delicious add-ins!)
  • Lasagna
  • Baked Ziti
  • Fettuccine Alfredo (chicken or shrimp)
  • Rotini Bake
  • Vegetable Lasagna
  • Lasagna Rolls (baked or in crockpot)
  • Bolognese Sauce and Pasta
  • Spinach-Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese
  • Tomato-Bacon Pasta
  • Stuffed Pasta Shells
  • Manicotti
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Pesto Pasta
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Tortellini
  • Stroganoff (chicken or beef)
  • Crockpot Alfredo Lasagna
  • Sausage & Pepper Pasta
  • Pad Thai
  • Bowtie Pasta & Vegetables

Pro Tip: A lot of these dinner ideas freeze really well! We always suggest to double or triple what you're making and freeze it for an easy weeknight dinner. It's so much cheaper than grabbing take out on those busy nights!

SALADS OR SANDWICHES FOR DINNER

Salads in a jar, from Fun Cheap or Free

Pro Tip: Make mason jar salads for easy grab-and-go dinners during the week!

GRILLED DINNER IDEAS

  • Grilled Chicken (season or marinade with whatever, and grill!)
  • Steak (grilled or broiled)
  • Kabobs

Pro Tip: The grill isn't just for your meat! Put your veggies in a steamer pack made out of foil and cook them on the grill. They turn out so delicious and it keeps you from dirtying any dishes in the kitchen. Winning!

BREAKFAST FOR DINNER

Pro Tip: Make a boatload of breakfast foods over the weekend, freeze, and pull them out as you need them for a quick and easy breakfast or dinner!

LEFTOVERS FOR DINNER

When you're trying to come up with fresh and new, easy dinner ideas, don't forget about your leftovers. If you have cooked food that is already in your fridge, EAT IT or use it to create something totally new! Unless you like eating your leftovers how you originally made them, there are plenty of ways to repurpose your leftovers. Don't believe us? We came up with over 70 different meals to magically transform those “boring” ol' leftovers into.

So the next time you're standing in your kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for dinner, remember your leftovers! Incorporate a weekly leftover night that helps to make meal planning easy. Use our tips to reheat your leftovers like a pro and never throw out your wasted leftovers that have been hanging out in the back of the fridge for a little too long again. We promise, the amount of money you'll save because there's less food waste will have you loving your leftovers in no time!

Various dinner ideas, from Fun Cheap or Free

Get your updated list of 120 Dinner Ideas below! Print double-sided and you'll have endless inspiration when meal planning or dinner time rolls around… whichever comes first 😉

You can also check out my very best Shopping Tips and Tricks, plus even more tips for How I Grocery Shop on A Budget. And don't forget to check out How I Meal Plan!

So what is YOUR go to dinner??

Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly meals for your family without slaving away in the kitchen!

Check out ShelfCooking.com

Basically every parent's dream, right? Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!

Happy cooking!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free