Dinner Ideas

You know those nights where you just can’t think of anything? Well, hopefully this will help. As I get more ambitious, I’ll put up the recipes too!
“Emergency Meals” (as in you have to be somewhere in half an hour and need to throw together something quick)
  • Canned soup. My kids love Dinty Moore Beef Stew. You can microwave a potato, chop it up, and throw it in to stretch it.
  • Soft tacos/Taco salad/Hard shell tacos (depending on what you have in the house and freezer)
  • Spaghetti, the old standby
  • Navajo tacos (Keep scones in the freezer, heat up a can of chili and top with shredded cheese, lettuce, etc.)
  • Sloppy Joes (Keep pre-cooked hamburger and buns in the freezer. Add a can of Manwich, toast the buns and you’re done!)
  • French toast and scrambled eggs (I know this is a dinner list, but it’s fast, easy, and the protein is in the eggs!)
  • Chef salad (Throw some diced ham (from leftovers) and chopped hard-boiled eggs (previously prepared), cheese cubes, whatever vegetables you have on hand, and toss. Instant dinner.)
  • Grilled ham and cheese (cook with plenty of meat, your favorite cheese, and it’s almost a complete meal in itself)
  • BLT’s (Buy the large pack of pre-cooked bacon at Costco or your favorite warehouse store. Keep in freezer. Microwave bacon while you’re toasting your bread. Add lettuce and tomato and you’re done!)
  • Meatball Subs
Easy Meals (for when you just don’t have time for a lot of hands-on)
  • Baked potato bar
  • Black bean soup
  • Hawaiian Haystacks
  • Meatballs and rice
  • Fresh chicken and veggie “pizza”
  • Chicken and rice
  • Fish sticks and french fries (throw in a few pieces of battered halibut for the adults)
  • Chicken patty sandwiches (Buy pre-made breaded chicken patties, keep in the freezer with hamburger buns and you have a quick and easy dinner. Top with your favorite cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo.)
  • Hamburgers (Amazing recipe and you’ll never miss the fat!)
    Hot Dogs
  • Chicken noodle soup (throw the ingredients in a pot, walk away, come back and dinner is done.
  • Chicken or Meatball ziti (i.e. cheater lasagna)
  • Salmon patties
  • Crab cakes
  • Tuna Croquettes
  • Pasta salad
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Meatloaf
  • Potato and ham casserole
  • Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, waffles, or french toast, muffins, egg choice, hash browns or fried potatoes, whatever you family favorites are. It’s even easier if you have hard boiled eggs already cooked and some of your breads in the freezer. Pull out and microwave.

School Meals (as in I have no time to cook after school but dinner has to be served at 6 PM so I have to make it in advance)
  • Potato and ham casserole make during the day, throw in the oven when I get home
  • Chicken and rice
  • Beef Stew in the crockpot
  • Spaghetti (keep the meatballs or cooked sausage in the freezer)
  • Pasta salad make earlier in the day and refrigerate
  • Chef salad: make earlier in the day
  • Black bean soup in the crockpot
  • Lasagna: make earlier in the day, heat when I get home
  • Chicken casserole
  • Tuna casserole
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Minestrone
  • Fishsticks and fries
  • Chicken patty sandwich
  • Fish sandwich 
  • Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (Yes, on a weeknight! Just use a simpler to prepare turkey, instant mashed potatoes, boxed stuffing, and canned sauce.)
  • Lasagna
  • Tuna Casserole (Even if you don’t normally like, try this one.)
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Breaded chicken with mashed potatoes
  • Hamburgers
  • Spaghetti (with or without meatballs)
  • Baked potato bar


 Mexican/South West
  • Hard or soft shell tacos
  • Taco salad
  • Beef or chicken enchiladas
  • Pozole (an amazing find–it’s actually very good)
  • Fajitas
  • Burritos
  • Carne Asada
  • Tostadas (fried tortilla topped with your favorites)
  • Navajo tacos 
  • Enchiladas
  • Taquitos (baked)
  • Smothered Chimichanga
  • Tortas 
  • "Cafe Rio" Salad
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Lasagna
  • Spaghetti (with meatballs)
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Tortelini
  • Ravioli
  • Pasta salad
  • Meatball sub
  • Tortelini soup
  • Meatball soup
  • Lentil soup
  • Minestrone
  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu (easy version)
German Food
  • Sauerbraten
  • Wienerschnitzel
  • Rotkohl
  • Spatzle
  • Cashew chicken
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Orange chicken
  • Fried rice
  • Stir fry
  • chicken Lo Mein
  • Sweet and Sour chicken
  • Teryaki chicken 
  • Chicken curry
  • Chicken Satay
  • Pakoras


  • Salmon or tuna croquettes
  • Fish sticks and fries (or battered halibut for the adults)
  • Fishy Stickies 
  • Crab cakes
  • Tilapia over rice with lemon cream sauce 
  • Tuna casserole
Chicken and Poultry
  • Breaded chicken fillets
  • Chicken satay
  • Sesame chicken tenders
  • Easy chicken cordon bleu 
  • Hot turkey sandwiches 
  • Curry chicken
  • Crockpot BBQ chicken
  • Cheesy chicken and rice bake
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Cashew chicken
  • Sweet & Sour chicken
  • Orange chicken
Pork Dishes
  • Roast Pork 
  • Wienerschnitzel 
  • Pozole
  • BBQ Pork
  • Cafe Rio Salad with sweet pork
Beef Dishes
  • Beef Pot Roast 
  • French Dip
  • Fillet Mignon
  • Meatballs & rice (Pour your favorite sauce over meatballs)
  • Hamburger 
  • Beef or Meatball stew
  • Meatloaf 
  • BBQ beef
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Pakoras

Cooking Method

Crockpot Meals
  • BBQ chicken, beef or pork, served on toasted buns.
  • Taco soup
  • 13 or 16 bean soup
  • 3 bean turkey chili
  • Tuscan white bean soup (It’s actually amazing and smells wonderful.)
  • Black bean soup
  • Pot roast
  • Pork Roast
  • Beef Stew

Rice Cooker Recipes
  • Hawaiian haystacks
  • Chicken and rice
  • Fried rice
  • Meatballs and rice

On the grill
  • Hamburgers
  • Shish Kebabs (prepare several options and let kids make their own skewers)
  • Hot dogs
  • Steak

  • Potato and ham casserole
  • Chicken & stuffing casserole
  • Tuna casserole
  • Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
  • Grilled Cheese (can add meat and try different kids of cheese: brie & turkey is my favorite)
  • Meatball sub
  • Build your own "Subway" with a variety of meat, cheese & toppings
  • French dip
  • Hot turkey sandwich (toasted bread, turkey, gravy served with mashed potatoes)
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, or tuna salad sandwiches
  • French bread pizzas
  • Chicken patty sandwich
  • Fish sandwich
  • Hamburger
  • Hot dog

  • Pasta salad (can make it with tortelini
  • Chef salad
  • Tuna salad
  • Greek Salad
  • Potato Leek soup
  • Black bean soup
  • Tuscan white bean soup
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Beef stew
  • Taco soup
  • 13 bean soup
  • Lentil soup
  • Minestrone
  • Homemade chili
  • Tortellini and Sausage Soup
  • Meatball soup
More difficult but worth the time if you have it
  • Chicken or beef pockets
  • Chicken or beef pot pie
  • Wienerschnitzel
  • Chicken cordon bleu
  • Eggplant parmesan
Freezer Meals (Keep on hand for "those" nights)
  • Potato and ham casserole
  • Chicken casserole
  • Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
  • Precooked frozen meatballs
  • Precooked taco meat
  • Leftover cooked meat such as sliced turkey (hot turkey sandwiches) roast beef (french dip), etc.
  • Precooked sausage (throw it into taco soup or spaghetti sauce)
  • Lasagna
  • Chicken & stuffing casserole

Good for a Group (These also work well as themes for potlucks)
  • Pasta Bar: have several pastas & sauces, garlic bread and a salad.
  • Hawaiian Haystacks
  • Build your own taco bar
  • Build your own sub sandwich bar 
  • Baked Potato bar
  • "Cafe Rio" salad 
  • Soup buffet: have everyone bring their favorite soup or chili

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