Simplified Menu Planning (+100 Easy Dinner Ideas)

Thanks for sharing!Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon

Have you ever been staring into your pantry just willing your mind to come up with something for dinner?

Having a meal plan can save you from that dread, but then you would have to actually plan ahead.

Sometimes when I would sit down to write out a menu plan, I would either be completely stumped and just go with the same go-to trio of chili, spaghetti, and pizza (staples in my house growing up).

OR I would go on Pinterest, waste hours perusing delicious recipes, and end up with a complicated menu that called for lots of ingredients I didn’t have and recipes that took way too long to make. UGH.

That’s when you just stock the freezer with an avalanche of corn dogs and hot pockets and call it a day.

But creating this one little thing changed all of that:  a master list of go-to meals.

After I created a list for my own family, menu planning for an average week gets done in about 2 minutes (and we are eating variety!)

What goes on the list? Easy, quick meals and/or freezer meals that you would make on your average busy day that your family will enjoy.

What doesn’t go on the list? Recipes you’ve never tried and/or favorite recipes that are more involved/time-consuming. You can reserve these for weekends and special occasions.

If you have 15-30 meals on your list that you know your family will eat, and are easy and fast to prepare, then you will most likely save money and eat healthier because you are cooking at home more often.

Just keep your list as a handy reference while making a menu and shopping list and it should make things a lot faster.

What has helped me is keeping a hard copy of my master meals list in a binder with my favorite recipes. The list prompts ideas for the menu creation and then the recipes are right there so I can look over ingredients needed to add them to my shopping list.

Sign up and Download the Menu Planning Made Easy Brainstorming Guide to quickly make a list of your own. It is complete with questions to prompt your memory, and 2 blank PDF fillable pages on which to build your list.

make a menu fast and easy healthy dinners save money save time healthy cooking at home family time

Feel like you are in a cooking rut and need ideas? Here are 18 dinner ideas with over 100 variants:

(These are not recipes, but a list to help jog your mind about your favorite dishes.)

Spaghetti/Pasta

  • Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Million Dollar spaghetti
  • Baked Spaghetti
  • Chicken Spaghetti
  • Carbonara
  • Pasta with roasted Veggies and Sausage
  • Lasagna
  • Stuffed Shells
  • Cheesy sausage pasta

Chili

  • Ground Beef Chili
  • White bean chili
  • Cowboy Beans
  • Chili mac
  • Chili dogs

Pizza

  • Homemade pizza dough using bread machine + fav toppings
  • Bagel or french bread Pizzas
  • Barbecue Chicken Pizza
  • Taco Pizza

Tacos

  • Ground Beef tacos
  • Ranch chicken tacos
  • Cream Cheese Salsa chicken tacos
  • Walking Tacos
  • Fish Tacos

Burritos

  • Beef and Bean Burritos
  • Breakfast (Eggs and bacon/sausage) burrito
  • Steak Burrito Bowls
  • Chicken and Black bean Burritos

Quesadillas

  • Chicken and cheddar quesadillas
  • Black beans and salsa quesadillas
  • leftover slow cooker chicken or pork quesadillas

Enchiladas

  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
  • Beef Enchiladas
  • Bean and Avocado Enchiladas
  • Green or Red Chile Enchiladas

Breakfast for Dinner

  • Scrambled/Fried Eggs
  • Omelets
  • Pancakes
  • Toast
  • French Toast
  • Hashbrowns
  • Sausage
  • Muffins
  • quiche
  • Frittata
  • Smoothies
  • Biscuits and Gravy

Chicken and Rice/Quinoa

  • Hawaiian Haystacks
  • Salsa chicken
  • Citrus Rosemary chicken
  • Cilantro Lime chicken
  • Honey Garlic chicken
  • Coconut chicken
  • Teriyaki chicken
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Mexican rice and spicy chicken
  • Parmesan chicken

Beans and Rice

  • Cilantro Black Beans and green rice
  • Roasted Bell Peppers, onions, and garlic with black beans and rice
  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Refried Beans and Rice
  • Tex-Mex bean, rice, and Avocado casserole

Asian American

  • Fried Rice
  • Stir-fry
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Chow Mein
  • Chop Suey
  • Cabbage Rolls

Fish/Seafood

  • Baked Tilapia
  • Glazed Salmon
  • Blackened Bass
  • Shrimp Scampi

Roast

  • Cranberry Pork Roast
  • Beef Roast and Potatoes
  • Roast Chicken

Potatoes

  • Baked potato bar
  • Hobo/Foil Dinners
  • Shepard’s Pie

Sandwiches

  • BLT Sandwiches
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
  • BBQ (pork or chicken)
  • Italian Beef
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Baked Sliders
  • Chicken Salad
  • Hamburgers
  • Philly Cheese Steak
  • Ham and Cheese pinwheels

Salad

  • Toss Salad with favorite veggies and mix-ins
  • Romaine Lettuce, craisins, French’s onions, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing
  • Spinach, strawberries, toasted almonds, avocados, and poppy seed dressing
  • Pasta Salads

Soup

  • Stuffed Pepper
  • Potato soup
  • Zuppa Toscana
  • Chicken and Rice
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Cheddar Broccoli
  • Lasagna Soup
  • Ham and Beans soup with cornbread
  • Beef Stew

Casseroles/Other

  • Tater Tot Casserole
  • Tuna Noodle
  • Chicken Pot pie
  • Tetrazzini
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Goulash

Make your own variations or find new ones to complete a go-to dinner list of your own.

Sign up below to get access to my library of free printables, including the Menu Planning Made Easy Brainstorming Guide to help you quickly come up with a list of your own.




Thanks for sharing!Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon