Meal Plan with Theme Nights: Over 50 Ideas!

Meal planning can be SUCH a time-consuming hurdle, especially when you’re trying to come up with dinner ideas for a family full of opinions and/or dietary restrictions. The good news is that you can give yourself a head start by creating a meal plan with theme nights. Even BETTER news: I’m going to give you over 50 ideas for theme nights that you can use to save time on meal planning.

Meal plan with theme nights: Over 50 theme ideas

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn from qualifying purchases.  For my full disclosure policy click here.

The Benefits of Meal Planning with Theme Nights

Several years ago, when I was in a meal-planning rut, I decided to give each night of the week a theme (like Taco Tuesday) to see if it would save time on meal planning. It worked…and it stuck! I have been shocked by the amount of time I have been able to shave from the meal planning process by assigning a theme to each night of the week.  

stack of cookbooks for meal planning

Having an outline of what type of meal goes on which night of the week can jump-start the meal planning process; it narrows your focus so you don’t get overwhelmed sifting through your recipe collection. Want to give it a try? I have some theme night ideas for you.

Meal Plan Theme Night Ideas

Below are the current theme nights that we use at our house, plus a few other ideas for each night of the week. (The possibilities really are endless, especially if you don’t insist on alliteration like I do.  I’m weird like that…)

MONDAY

Our family starts off the week with Meatless Monday.  There are a lot of reasons why people love Meatless Monday.  Our main motivator is to trim our grocery budget.  Here are some other alternatives to Meatless Monday:

  • Meaty Monday (steak, chicken breasts, pork chops, etc.)
  • Made-From-Scratch Monday (you know the meals – the ones that use every dish in the kitchen…)
  • Make-It-Up Monday (take a detour from the recipe cards. This would really scare my family!)
  • Meatball Monday (yes, I have so many uses for meatballs that I could devote one night a week to them…)
  • Macaroni Monday (this could be a pasta or oven-baked casserole night)
  • Marinara Monday (any dish that uses sauce!)
  • Muffin Tin Monday (muffin tins aren’t just for breakfast!)

TUESDAY

There would be mutiny around here if we didn’t have Taco Tuesday.  This has turned out to be pretty much any meal in the taco realm (enchiladas, taco soup, etc.).  Other options for a Tuesday theme night that we will incorporate when we get tired of Taco Tuesday probably never are:

  • “Try It” Tuesday (try a new recipe)
  •  Take-Out Tuesday (either order from a favorite restaurant, or whip up your favorite copycat recipe)
  • Traeger Tuesday (we are currently using our Traeger on Thursdays…more on that below)
  • Turkey Tuesday
  • Tourist Tuesday (cook a meal inspired by past, upcoming, or bucket list travel)
  • TikTok Tuesday (get those social media recipes out of your saves and onto your dinner table!)
  • Tomato Tuesday (this theme works for any tomato-based recipes, but this could also be a placeholder for any ingredient that’s overtaking your garden during the growing season)

WEDNESDAY

If you ever visit us on hump day, you can look forward to One Pot Wednesday.  I have also decided to include Crockpot meals in my meal planning for this theme, even if they might not end up being true “one pot” recipes.  Other ideas for Wednesday include:

  • Wacky Wednesday (clean out the fridge/leftover night)
  •  “What’s New” Wednesday (try a new recipe)
  •  Wrap Wednesday (put your favorite salad in a tortilla and call it a night)
  •  World Cuisine Wednesday 
  • Wake Up Wednesday (breakfast for dinner)
  • Waffle Wednesday (play a little bit of “Will it Waffle?” with your family)
  • Wishlist Wednesday (rotate through your family members’ dinner wishlists)

THURSDAY

In our time zone, we have Traeger Thursday.  Yes, we have devoted one night a week, 52 weeks a year, to our wonderful Traeger wood pellet smoker.  When our propane grill became an unpredictable flamethrower, Mr. Blue Eyes really wanted to replace it with a smoker.  I was skeptical, but have been pleasantly surprised by how much I love it.

In my world of naming theme nights, Tuesday and Thursday theme night ideas are pretty much interchangeable. So you can read those ideas above, but here are a few Thursday-specific ideas:

  • Thrifty Thursday (plan a meal based around what’s on sale)
  • Thaw-It Thursday (use at least one ingredient from the freezer)
  • Thirsty Thursday (choose your main course based on the beverage you’ll be drinking with it)

FRIDAY

We end the work week with Favorites Friday at our house.  This catch-all title helped me incorporate some of our favorite recipes that didn’t really fit into any of the other theme nights.  If we eat out, it is usually on Friday nights, so “Favorites Friday” can also include our favorite restaurants.  Other ideas for Friday include:

  • Fire Up the Grill Friday
  •  Fish Friday
  • Fancy Friday (try those pretty recipes you find on Pinterest)
  • Freezer Meal Friday (use a homemade or store-bought freezer meal)
  • Finger Food Friday (charcuterie board, wings, potato skins, etc.)
  • Flip-Flop Friday (kids plan and/or cook)
  • Flapjack Friday (breakfast for dinner)
  • Flatbread Friday (gyros, flatbread pizzas, meals that go with naan, etc.)
  • French Fry Friday (any meal that would pair well with french fries/tots/roasted potatoes)
  • Fend For Yourself Friday (there are nights when Mr. Blue Eyes and I are so busy that we each whip up our own quick dinner of choice and make enough to share with the kids)

SATURDAY/SUNDAY

Weekends call for simplicity around here. We have Soup Saturday which is perfect for our busy weekends.  I normally do a bit of grocery shopping on Saturdays, so I am rarely in the mood to cook a big dinner afterwards.  Here are some other ideas for Saturdays/Sundays.

  • Sausage Saturday/Sunday
  • Salad Saturday/Sunday
  • Sandwich Saturday/Sunday
  • Save It Saturday/Sunday (use up dribs and drabs of ingredients/leftovers so they don’t go to waste)
  • Seafood Saturday/Sunday
  • Storage Saturday/Sunday (try some creative recipes to help rotate your food storage items)
  • Stir Fry Saturday/Sunday
  • Slow Cooker Saturday/Sunday (break out the Crockpot!)
  • Spaghetti Saturday/Sunday (pasta night is always a weekend favorite)
  • Speedy Saturday/Sunday (use the Instant Pot or some of your other no-prep dinner ideas)
  • Spud Saturday/Sunday (potatoes could either be the star or the side dish)
  • Sunday Supper (pot roast, etc.)

As I mentioned earlier, the possibilities really are endless.  I hope that this has given you some ideas for your own dinner theme nights!

Deciding on Your Meal Plan Theme Nights

When you are brainstorming your own ideas, the main thing to keep in mind is whether you have enough recipes to warrant an entire night’s theme on that idea.  

At our house, Meatball Monday is a totally legitimate possibility, while it might not be for others who don’t have as many “go-to” meatball recipes.  On the other hand, casseroles are not a favorite for our family, so we wouldn’t devote one night a week to them.  The few casseroles that we do enjoy are included in our catch-all “Favorites Friday” theme.

You could even create a monthly meal planning calendar template that rotates through different themes each week or every other week. This will add some variety while still providing you with a starting point for meal planning.

meal planning chalkboard

Once you have your meal plan figured out, save even more time by posting it for the whole family to see.

How does THAT save time?

I’ve found that there is less “What’s for dinner?” questioning and negotiating with a posted menu. This saves time AND sanity!

Save These Dinner Theme Night Ideas

Be sure to save this post so you can come back to it later! Just add the pin below to your favorite meal planning board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these dinner theme night ideas whenever you get suck in a meal planning rut!

How to meal plan with dinner themes - with over 50 fun theme ideas
Meal plan quickly using dinner themes.  Mommy Standard Time
More than 30 dinner themes to help you simplify meal planning.  Mommy Standard Time