Ever wonder what to make for dinner? We've got this! Choose from our list of 100+ dinner ideas and make meal planning easy! Even picky eaters will LOVE these simple crowd-pleasers!
Meal planning can be a little overwhelming for everyone, especially during busy weeknights! It's 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!
FIRST, A MEAL PLANNING TIP
You ready for it? It's so easy. I keep a big list of dinner ideas by or on 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.
You can even separate meal types based on the main ingredient, meals that can be frozen, how they are cooked (crockpot, baked, grilled, etc.), meals good enough to serve guests, etc.
I also keep all of my favorite recipes in one place, like my recipe binder! Print our your best Pinterest recipes and keep them together where you can easily find them. If the recipe comes from a cookbook, photocopy it and keep it in the binder. That way you never have to say, “Now, where was that awesome chicken recipe again?….”
While I am sometimes bad at planning ahead for dinner, 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!
Making your own list is so easy, especially when you use our printable list of over 100 awesome dinner ideas! Take your favorite meals from your recipe binder, Pinterest, your cookbooks, and everything else, and add them to your dinner ideas list!
Pssstttt… If you want an even more customized dinner ideas list, check out our dinner ideas post on ShelfCooking.com where we break meals down by themed dinner ideas to help.
THE ULTIMATE 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'll try to post them over time and will update this list with links to the recipes. Otherwise, I recommend a site like allrecipes.com for recipes (be sure to read the reviews)!
EASY PAN DINNER IDEAS
- Hard tacos or tostadas
- Huevos rancheros
- Stir fry
- Burgers or hotdogs
- Quesadillas (plain cheese, steak, chicken, or pork)
- 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)
BAKED DINNER IDEAS
- Homemade pizza
- Twice-baked potatoes
- Chicken pot pie (easier than you think!)
- Homemade corn dogs
- Shepherd's pie
- French bread pizza
- Egg rolls (homemade)
- Stuffed green peppers from allrecipes.com
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 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
BEEF/PORK DINNER IDEAS
- Pork chops
- Meatball subs
- Stuffed pork chops
- Beef & broccoli
- Beef or pork tenderloin
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 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
- 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
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 mac and cheese add-ins!)
- 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
- Spaghetti and meatballs (with homemade spaghetti sauce, of course!)
- Pesto pasta
- Eggplant parmesan
- 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
- Paninis (turkey leftovers are always a fan favorite!)
- BBQ chicken salad
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Baked Italian sandwiches
- Taco salad
- Mexican chicken sandwiches
- Dr Pepper pulled pork sandwiches
- Cafe Rio pork salads or burritos (don't forget the delicious Cafe Rio rice!)
- Club salad
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)
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
- French toast (crunchy French toast, stuffed, Eggnog French toast, regular, or pumpkin French toast is always good!)
- Waffles or crepes
- Omelet or scrambled eggs
- Breakfast burritos
- Egg sandwiches
- Egg muffin cups
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 out of your leftovers! Unless you like eating 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 something new and different!
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!
So what is YOUR go-to dinner?? Share it with us in the comments below!
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