Frugal Living » Dinner Theme Menu Planner

Dinner Theme Menu Planner

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Coming up with a different menu plan every week can seem like a daunting task. Over the years we’ve used a number of different menu plans, but the dinner theme menu planner has always been one of my personal favorites.

How to Use the Dinner Theme Menu Planner

Print out a weekly meal planner calendar. Then choose 7 different dinner theme menu ideas, one for each night of the week. Enter them into the weekly planner along with the choice of meal.

What Are Some Ideas for a Dinner Theme Menu Planner?

Some ideas for dinner theme menu planners are:

  1. Mediterranean Night
  2. Mexican Bonanza
  3. Italian Fiesta
  4. Seafood Extravaganza
  5. Asian Adventure
  6. Tex-Mex
  7. Turkey Day Themes
  8. American Delight
  9. European Entrée
  10. Western Supper

You could also come up with your own dinner theme menu planner, or print out our free dinner theme menu planner, which includes 36 theme night ideas.
dinner theme menu plan ideas Dinner Theme Menu Planner

Recipe Ideas for the Dinner Theme Menu Plan

You can be as extravagant or as simple as you like with a themed dinner plan. If your children are younger, you might want to encourage them to dress the part, my boys loved coming to the table dressed like cowboys for a Western Supper night.

dinner theme cowboy tex mex

We sometimes added in a movie to go along with the theme, Lady and the Tramp worked well on Italian fiesta night with a big ol’ plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

1 Pasta Night

On pasta nights I prefer to cook some type of homemade pasta, but store-bought works just as well if you don’t have the time! Pasta is extremely versatile, pair it with a side salad or steamed veggies for an inexpensive meal in under 30 minutes.
1 Homemade Ravioli
2 Tomato Basil Pasta
3 25- Quick Toss Pasta Recipes

b101 copycat spatini spaghetti sauce
Copycat Spatini Spaghetti Sauce Mix

2 Casserole Night Dinner Theme

When making a casserole, always consider doubling the recipe. The second casserole can be prepared in a foil pan, then frozen for later on in the month. A 9″x9″ foil pan will fit perfectly in a gallon size freezer Ziploc bag, just make sure that you remove as much of the air as possible.
1 Meatball Sub Casserole
2 Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
3 Cheesy Ham Hashbrown Casserole
cheesy hashbrown ham casserole

3 Stir Fry Night

Stir fry night is a favorite for using up small amounts of several different types of veggies. Sometimes we’ll have just one or two carrots, a stalk of celery, and a handful of fresh broccoli left in the fridge. This is a great way to enjoy those smaller amounts that might otherwise end up wasted.
1 Sweet & Sour Meatball Stir Fry
2 Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry
3 Jamaican Pork Stir Fry

chicken broccoli stir fry
Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry

4 BBQ/Grill Night

We grill year round here in the Southeastern part of the states. If you don’t grill, consider using an air fryer, oven, or even the crockpot to enjoy BBQ year round.
1 Honey Sriracha Grilled Chicken
2 Stuffed Grilled Portabellas
3 Key West Grilled Chicken
key west grilled chicken with limes

5 Asian Adventure

1 Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
2 Chinese Chop Suey
3 Sesame Chicken

make your own sesame chicken
Make Your Own Sesame Chicken

6 Chicken Night

1 Cheesy Chicken Bake
2 Country Herb Chicken & Dumplings
3 Artichoke Spinach Skillet Chicken
spinach artichoke skillet chicken

7 Spud Night Dinner Theme

On spud night, potatoes are the main course, this can be something like a baked potato bar, twice baked potatoes, or scalloped potatoes.
1 Chili’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup
2 Loaded Hasselback Bechamel Potatoes
3 Zucchini Potato Casserole

b101 loaded hasselback tater
Loaded Hasselback Bechamel Potatoes

8 Restaurant Night

This doesn’t mean dining out, this is literally using up the leftovers in the fridge and freezer. Most of the time we freeze the leftover servings in small dishes or vacuum seal bags. Then, once we’ve accumulated several packages of various dishes, I print a fun restaurant style menu and let the family “order” their dinner from the homemade “menu”.

Most of the items can be warmed at the same time in the oven at 325-350F for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the portions. I tend to freeze them in individual portion sizes to make reheating times similar.

9 Spud Night Dinner Theme

On spud night, potatoes are the main course, this can be something like a baked potato bar, twice baked potatoes, or scalloped potatoes.
1 Chili’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup
2 Loaded Hasselback Bechamel Potatoes
3 Zucchini Potato Casserole

10 Pizza Night

Don’t think for a minute that this has to be the same ol’ pizza, there are a ton of different toppings and variations; You could even go with homemade pizza pasta!
1 Sausage Gravy Breakfast Pizza
2 Pizza Dip
3 Dill Pickle Pizza with Garlic Sauce
sausage gravy breakfast pizza hero

11 Salad Night

Don’t think for a second that is just a plain old bowl of salad and the kids won’t be into it! These are healthy, hearty meals that offer lots of flavor and are filling.
1 Bang Bang Shrimp Salad
2 Mexican Street Corn Salad
3 Cauliflower “Potato” Salad

b101 mexican street corn salad
Mexican Street Corn Salad

12 A Taste of Germany Dinner Theme

Add a little taste of Central Europe to the themed dinner plan by hosting a German themed dinner. The evening meal is referred to Abdendessen or Abendbrot (literally translating to ‘evening bread’). German cuisine is generally lighter fare in the evening as they tend to dine on rather hearty lunches.

1 Grandma’s German Potato Salad
2 Currywurst
3 Mini German filled pancakes
grandmas german red potato salad

Dinner Theme Honorable Mentions

Other theme nights worth mentioning include, “get eggy with it”- where eggs are the main course. This could be something simple, such as omelettes, or quiche.

Fish Fry-day which can be literally fried fish, pan-fried fish, baked fish, fisherman’s pot pie, or fish chowder. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy your catch if you happen to have a fisherman in the family.

tasty fishermans pot pie
Tasty Fisherman’s Pot Pie

Benefits of a Dinner Theme Menu Plan

There are a few benefits to using a dinner theme menu planner. First, it can help you to be more organized and efficient in your meal planning. You can plan all of your meals for the week around a certain theme, and this will help you to make sure that you have all the ingredients you need.

Second, it can help you to be more creative in your cooking. If you always cook the same dishes, it can be boring and monotonous. But by planning your meals around a theme, you can come up with new and interesting recipes to try.

Finally, it can help you to save money. By cooking meals that are based on a certain theme, you can often buy the ingredients for those meals in bulk, which will save you money. Your only limit is your imagination when it comes to dinner theme meal planning.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with recipe ideas for a particular theme, ask in the comments below!

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