Meal Planning Dinner Ideas List

Meal planning is a great way to save time and money. By planning your meals in advance, you can make sure that you have all the ingredients that you need on hand, you can incorporate your favorite recipes, and choose healthy recipes.

There are a few different ways to make the meal prep process more seamless. You can use a meal planner template, or meal planning app – some of which include an automatic grocery list or meal planning calendar. It doesn’t have to be complicated; just choose a method that works best for you and get started! Then, you can gradually organize your grocery shopping list to avoid food waste and consider easy recipes for comfort food, so you and your whole family can have the best meals every time you sit down together to eat!

If you’re looking for some meal ideas, check out this list of easy dinner recipes. We’ve got something for everyone, from quick and healthy meal plans to hearty and comforting dishes. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there is a meal idea that will hit the spot. You can also check out our free weekly meal plans to discover new recipes for easy meals, home-cooked meals, and even favorite dinner ideas. This list of meals will surely make meal planning easier for you!

A jar of white lima beans spilled over on a stone counter top.

Easy American Dinners To Try

American dinners are hearty, filling, and perfect for any season. They often include classics like meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. These delicious meals are easy to make and will have your family asking for seconds. Putting these ideas into your recipe binder will help you come up with a printable list of homemade meals that your family will surely love. Check out the variety of meals to try with your family. 

1. Meatloaf

This dish is an American classic. It’s simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. The meatloaf can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use. You can pair this with baked beans, extra veggies, and other pantry staples if you want to make it more delicious. 

2. Macaroni and Cheese

You can never go wrong with this widely loved dish. If you are looking for a favorite comfort meal, macaroni and cheese is the best meal- it’s a hit with both kids and adults, and it’s so easy to make. If you want to make this meal fuller, try serving it with chicken or incorporating some veggies.

3. Spaghetti and Meatballs

This dish is a bit more time-consuming than mac and cheese, but it’s definitely worth it! The great thing about spaghetti and meatballs is that you can make a big batch and have leftovers for the week. Make it with your favorite ingredients, and this meal will surely delight your taste buds.

4. Roasted Chicken

Roasted chicken is another iconic dish that is perfect for a weeknight meal. You simply have to prepare the chicken, place it in the oven, and let it cook! You can even serve this with sweet potatoes or baked potatoes if you want. 

5. Salmon

Salmon is a healthy option for a weeknight meal, and it’s so easy to make! You can either bake or grill the salmon, and it only takes a few minutes to cook. Serve this with sauteed veggies to make busy weeknights even more interesting! This is one of the best fish dinner ideas out there, and it’s also a healthy choice for families.

6. Steak

Steak is a delicious and easy way to get your protein fix. Season your steak with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then cook it to your liking. Serve with a side of roasted vegetables or a salad for a complete meal. If you want, you can add black beans for an interesting twist! While this is one of the simplest, easy dinner ideas, it’s not may not be a very budget-friendly one, so if your food budget tends to be on the leaner side, this dinner option may be best on special occasions.

7. Vegetarian Chili

This dish is perfect for meatless meals! It’s filled with beans and veggies, and it’s so easy to make. Just place all of the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer! You can use your favorite vegetables for this recipe. You may also serve fresh fruit along with this meal to make it healthier. 

8. Chicken Parmesan

This dish is a bit more time-consuming than some of the others on this list, but it’s worth it! Chicken Parmesan is always a hit, and it’s so easy to make. Slices or shreds of cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese will allow you to make variations of this dish. You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs for bigger servings. You can also pair this with BBQ chicken salad or buffalo chicken to make a full meal. This will easily become one of your favorite meals!

9. Beef Stroganoff

If you’re in search of a hearty dish, look no further than beef stroganoff. This dish is packed with flavor, and it’s perfect for a cold night. This is one of the healthier options for people who are conscious about their health and well-being. 

10. Soup

Soup is always a good option for a weeknight meal. It’s easy to make and can be very healthy. Just choose your favorite recipe and get cooking! Soup will always belong on your list of favorite dinner ideas because it’s delicious and will keep your family healthy at the same time. This is one of the best types of food if you are in a hurry and want to eat something delicious.

cooked sloppy joe mix in iron skillet made with ground beef

Delicious Mexican Meals

Mexican food is always a good idea. There are so many flavorful and satisfying options to choose from, so you can never go wrong! Tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, chimichangas — the list goes on and on. The best part is that most of these dishes can be made ahead of time, which makes them perfect for meal planning.

If you’re on the lookout for some delicious Mexican meal ideas to add to your dinner rotation, look no further. Below are some of the best recipes around that are sure to please everyone at the table. This list of dinner ideas will surely inspire you to cook more delicious meals for your family.

1. Taco Casserole

This casserole is packed with all of the best taco fixings — ground beef, tomatoes, beans, onions, and cheese — but is much easier to make than traditional tacos. Simply layer everything in a baking dish and bake until it’s hot and bubbly. Serve with a side of sour cream and chips for dipping. You can also add more taco seasoning.

2. Chicken Enchiladas

These enchiladas are smothered in a homemade red enchilada sauce; they’re always a hit with family and friends. The chicken filling can be made ahead of time and assembled quickly when you’re ready to eat. You can add green peppers if you want to upgrade the taste of this dish!

3. Beef Quesadillas

These quesadillas are loaded with flavorful ground beef, onions, and cheese. They’re quick and easy to make and can be served with a variety of toppings, such as sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. This dinner meal will quickly become one of your go-to meals, especially if you are looking for awesome dinner ideas.

4. Slow Cooker Burritos

Slow-cooker burritos are the perfect meal to make ahead of time. Simply assemble the burritos with your favorite fillings — you can use chicken, beans, and rice — and then freeze them. When you’re ready to eat, simply thaw and reheat them in the microwave.

5. Chimichangas

These deep-fried burritos are always a hit. They’re stuffed with chicken, beans, and cheese and can be served with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. Make sure to put a healthy dressing on your meal to make busy nights still interesting and fun.

6. Tortilla Soup

This soup is packed with flavor and is perfect for a chilly night. It’s made with chicken, tomatoes, onions, and peppers and can be garnished with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips.

7. Mexican Rice

This rice is a great side dish for any Mexican meal. It’s made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro and can be served as is or topped with cheese, sour cream, or salsa. For a fun, low carb twist, you could make this using cauliflower rice.

8. Refried Beans

If you’re on the lookout for a side dish that’s both delicious and easy to make, look no further than refried beans. These beans are cooked with onions and garlic and can be served with rice, tortillas, or chips.

9. Mexican Lasagna

If you like lasagna, you’ll love this Mexican-inspired dish. It’s made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and tortillas and is layered with cheese and sour cream.

10. Mexican Pizza

You can never go wrong with Mexican pizza. Mexican pizza is made with a flour tortilla, refried beans, and your favorite toppings. It’s quick and easy to make and is always a hit with kids and adults alike.

Quick Meals

Sometimes, the last thing you want to do after a long day is to cook a big meal. Meal planning can help make those days a little easier. Here are some simple meal ideas, to make end-of-the-week cooking fast and easy.

1. Tortilla Pizzas

If you love pizza but don’t love all the work that goes into making it, these tortilla pizzas are for you. Start with a whole wheat tortilla then top with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings. Stick them in the oven for a few minutes, and you’re done!

2. Spaghetti Squash With Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti squash is a great meal option. Just bake it in the oven until tender then top with your favorite tomato sauce. If you want a little more protein, you can add some cooked ground beef or turkey. If you have to appease picky eaters in your family, try pairing this with homemade pizza!

3. Tuna Salad

If you’re looking for a no-cook meal that’s high in protein, try tuna salad. Just mix together canned tuna, Greek yogurt, diced celery, and your favorite seasonings. Serve on top of a bed of greens or whole wheat bread. 

4. Egg Salad

Another great option for a high-protein meal is egg salad. Simply hard boil some eggs, then mash them up with Greek yogurt, diced celery, and your favorite seasonings. Serve on whole wheat bread or crackers. You can also add some chopped bacon or ham for extra flavor.

5. Garden Veggie Wrap

For a light and healthy no-cook meal, try this garden veggie wrap. Start with a whole wheat tortilla then add your favorite veggies, hummus, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll it up and enjoy!

6. Rotisserie Chicken

You can find rotisserie chickens at most grocery stores these days. They make a great no-cook meal option! Just shred the chicken and use it in salads, wraps, quesadillas, or whatever else you can think of.

7. Canned Soup

Canned soup is another great quick meal option. Just heat it up and enjoy! If you want a little something extra, try adding some cooked rice, quinoa, or noodles.

8. PB&J Sandwich

A classic PB&J sandwich is the perfect no-cook meal for kids and adults alike. Just spread peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, and you’re good to go!

9. Smoked Salmon Bagel

If you’re in the mood for something a little more substantial, try this smoked salmon bagel. Start with a whole wheat bagel, then top with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and your favorite toppings. You can make this a balanced meal by adding a good source of protein like a baked potato bar. 

10. Fruit and Yogurt

For a quick and healthy no-cook meal, try fruit and yogurt. Just top plain yogurt with your favorite fruits and a sprinkle of granola or nuts. You can also add a dollop of honey or agave nectar for a little sweetness. For extra protein, you can pair it with a hard-boiled egg.

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Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.