When you sit down every week to make your meal plan, do you find yourself getting stuck? Your mind suddenly goes blank when you realize you have zero dinner ideas, and suddenly you’re okay with making mac and cheese every night because it’s easy.
Trust me, you’re not alone.
I still find myself in a rut when it comes to meal planning, because I feel like sometimes we eat the same thing week in and week out. However, I found a life-saving solution that helps us get a little variety in our meals: Dinner themes.
Instead of having a list of about a thousand dinners to choose from at once, narrow it down by starting with a theme. From there, you can decide what dinner to make with that theme and meal planning suddenly becomes much easier.
What is a dinner theme?
A dinner theme is a general category of meals. For example, macaroni and cheese is the meal, but Italian is the theme. And burritos are the meal, but Mexican is the theme.
How do I get started with dinner themes?
Start by sitting down and making a list of your favorite kinds of dinners. If you’re not a fan of seafood, don’t even write it down. You should hopefully have a list of about 7-10 dinner themes that you can choose from each week. If not, here are a few examples:
- Leftover night
And here’s what my typical week looks like, on no particular day:
- Pasta (Usually just plain pasta and sauce)
- Mexican (Burrito bowls or quesadillas)
- Breakfast (Usually pancakes)
- “Ingredients dinner” (Grilled chicken, rice, and some sort of veggie)
- Any combination of two other themes, depending on how we feel
Looking for a bigger list? Download my FREE PDF below and hang it on your fridge for reference!
How do I meal plan with dinner themes?
Once you’ve made your list, you should have at least 7-10 themes to choose from. Now you can rotate them every week so you have something different!
First, download my free Dinner Ideas Template to start planning:
On that, or a piece of paper, make a few columns and put each dinner theme on top. Now write down all the meal ideas you can think of that go under that theme. So for me, I would write the following under Italian:
- Chicken Alfredo
- Pasta with plain spaghetti sauce
- Macaroni and cheese
- Chicken Parmesan
And the list could go on. Now pick 7 themes, one for each day, and choose one meal from each column to add to your meal plan.
Doing this every week could save you a ton of time in your meal planning, because most of the work is already done for you. No more spending hours on Pinterest searching for 7 dinners to just get you through the week! Once you have a good list of meals, it’ll be so easy for you to just go down the list and choose what you want each week. It’s been a life-saver for me!
Make sure you download my handy forms above and get started meal planning with dinner themes! And leave me a comment letting me know what themes make it onto your meal plan every week!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.