Tuesday, May 1, 2012

106 Dinner Ideas

I was so tired of asking my family, "WhatDoYouWannaEatfor Dinner."  And even more tired of the response: "IDunno." So I finally decided to do something drastic.  Meal plan.

I was inspired by all the wonderful recipes on Pinterest and the snazzy menu boards that so many people are making, like this one, so I decided it was high time I came up with a handy and do-able list of dinners I could make for my family.

I set about brainstorming a list of main dishes, veggie/fruit sides, and starchy sides that I could mix and match to make meals without much thinking or stressing on my part.

I ended up with 106 of each, then I matched them up in the way that made the most sense to me.   

You'll find them listed below along with a link to each recipe. Genius, right?

By the way, pictured above is the Mexican Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado salad from meal #4.

Well, without further ado, here it is! You can scroll down past the list for more details about it. Happy eating!

(Oh...and if you like dessert as much as I do, you'll also want to check out my favorite 106 Dessert Ideas too)

 106 Dinner Ideas  

This chart is meant for you to be able to link to the recipes.  If you want to print out just the names of the dishes to make menu cards for your menu board, click here to download the printable version.

Each mean contains a main dish, a veggie or fruit, and a starch.

1. Oven Baked Pork Chops
Yummy and doesn't leave your stove top splattered
Cranberry Sauce (Canned or from scratch)
Scratch is so easy and so yummy. If you buy canned, be sure to get the whole berry kind!
Au Gratin Potatoes (Box or from scratch)

2. Hamburger High Hat
A family favorite; like beef stroganoff; stretches a pound of meat
Broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
Bisquick Cheddar Garlic Biscuits (Package mix or from scratch)

3. Personal Pizzas Pizza Hut copycat
This really did taste like Pizza Hut! Reduce the oil used in the pan by half; sprinkle crust w/ parmesan cheese and oregano before baking; don't forget to buy toppings as recipe doesn't include them.
Tomato Feta Salad
Really good! Refreshing and had a nice tang from the vinegar.
Little Caesar's Bread Sticks Copycat

4. Shredded Chicken Tacos (Slow cooker)

Cathy's Homemade Salsa
Very easy and tastes like restaurant salsa
Mexican Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado salad
Really good and pretty easy

5. Caramelized Baked Chicken Legs or Wings

Green Beans with Cranberries and Almonds
Crack Potatoes
Pretty good; basically potatoes with ranch dressing and bacon; makes a lot, like 12 servings

6. Pampered Chef's White Chicken Chili
Very good and uses the microwave so fit for summer cooking; I use a quarter of the amount of chiles because it gets hotter each day it sits in the fridge
Oven Roasted Vegetables
Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

7. Honey Walnut Shrimp Panda Express copycat
I don't think I'll make this again.  It tasted somewhat similar to the restaurant version, but it was very time consuming and requires frying in hot oil.  Better to just go to Panda Express if you have one near you.
Baked Figs
Cream Cheese Rangoons
These were really good, and although they required the work and mess of oil frying, I thought they were worth it.  Don't add any more salt like I did-the first batch was better where I followed the directions! Minced water chestnuts would have added the slight crunch that the ones from Panda Express have.

8. Easy Chicken Enchiladas
Becoming a family favorite; super quick
Fruit Kabobs: Strawberries, kiwi, grapes, peaches, & bananas on sticks
Quick and Easy Homemade Spanish Rice
Really good and very easy

9. Asian Orange Chicken
Snow Peas and Peppers
White rice made with chicken stock not water
Yumm! Why did it take me so long to figure this trick out!?

10. Pot Roast
Homemade Apple Sauce
The taste was great, but it was still stringy and ot mushy after an hour of cooking, and I had to keep adding liquid because it kept cooking down.  Not sure what went wrong.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Potatoes
Good, but needed more salt and pepper or some more layers of flavor! 

11. Garlic Chicken
Definitely a family fave; very tender and flavorful
Mixed canned fruit
Boxed wild rice

12. Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
The fastest way to make really delicious chicken I have come across
Braised Green Beans
Cornbread (Box or from scratch)

13. Lamb chops (Stove top or slow cooker)
Buttery Mint Carrots
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

14. Easy Citrusy Chicken
Lots of variations depending on what ingredients you have on hand
Cranberry, Almond, Spinach Salad
Rice and Broccoli Casserole

15. Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichirri (BBQ)
Really good and gets the hubby involved in making dinner
Grilled Bleu Cheese Pears (BBQ)
Cheesy Bread

16. Del King's Tri Tip (BBQ)
Very good flavor; we lived near Santa Maria and should know!
Grilled Peach Salad with Mozzarella and Arugula (BBQ)
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (Bread Machine)

17. Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast
Baked Bananas
Parsley Red Potatoes

18. Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders (Slow cooker)
Very good flavor and easy to make
Cole Slaw with No Mayo
Thirty Minute Dinner Rolls
Came out really good; a little on the sweet side

19. Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
Very good!  The risotto was easier to make than I thought it would be
Grilled Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Lemon
Cheesy Drop Biscuits

20. Apple Sage Stuffed Pork Chops
Roasted Veggie Platter
Cape Cod Cornbread Stuffing with Cranberries

21. Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Harvest Stuffed Tomatoes
Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks 
Good but a little dry; maybe add some olive oil?

22. Chicken Parmesan
(Baked or slow cooker)
Ok, the baked recipe is actually pan fried then baked, and it is FREAKING DELICIOUS.  I saved time by using jarred spaghetti sauce instead of the recipe's scratch sauce. I also didn't have any eggs in the house but the breading stuck to the chicken just fine anyway. I used Italian breadcrumbs even though the recipe didn't specify plain or Italian.
Cucumber Salad
Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Baked Pasta

23. Chicken Fajitas
Guacamole - Alton Brown's recipe
Really good!  Tastes better if you leave it chunky rather than smash it fine
Re-fried Beans
Very good; definitely tastes more like restaurant-made than canned; I used salt pork and it was very good and not too salty.

24. Three Ingredient Baked Chicken
My favorite comfort food; ridiculously easy to make
Mixed berry salad: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.
Baked Butternut Squash
A favorite; super easy fall dish 

25. Chicken Tortilla Soup (Slow cooker)
Fruit salad (with whatever fruits you have handy)
Herb Bread (Slow cooker)

26. Carnitas for tacos or enchiladas (Slow cooker)
Plum slices
Fried Plantains

27. Corned Beef & Cabbage
(Stove top or slow cooker)
Had the stove top version at a friend's house; really good!
Honeyed Carrot Coins

Irish Beer and Cheese Bread

28. Crispy Pan-fried Pork Chops
Super delicious but makes the stove top messy!
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Rosemary Cheese Crusted Potatoes

29. Shredded beef (for soft tacos, enchiladas, etc.)
Blueberry Salsa Salad
Scalloped Potatoes with Roasted Chiles

30. Easy Spaghetti
My old standby recipe; has beef and pork for more flavor
Orange smiles
Frozen garlic bread

31. Chicken Florentine
Peas with Mushrooms
Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes

32. Honey Barbecued Chicken Breast (BBQ)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Oven roasted or packet BBQ'd)
I thought I hated BS until I had them BBQ'd with butter, salt, and pepper!  Thanks for schooling me, Steve!
Garlic Corn on the Cob (BBQ)
Our favorite way to eat corn on the cob; lots of garlic and a little salty though, so pair with non-salty foods 

33. Cheeseburgers 
Watermelon slices
Homemade Potato Chips

34. Lasagna (Frozen or from scratch)
Green Salad (With whatever you've got in the crisper drawer)
Bev's Sauteed Yellow Squash

35. Vivian's Comfort Pasta
Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad
Crescent Dinner Rolls (Homemade or tube)

36. Quick and Super Easy Chicken and Dumplings
Takes mostly non-perishable ingredients so this is a good meal for when it's time to grocery shop
Cantaloupe slices
Roasted Vegetables and Squash

37. Chicken or Mushroom Stuffed Shells
Super delicious! Mushroom ones actually tasted better than the chicken ones.  Be sure to cover when baking.
Tiffany's Tomatoes
Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Very good flavor and easy to make, especially if you've got a mandolin 

38. Baked Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos
Dana's Guacamole
My recipe!  Yummy! Not many ingredients and nothing canned
Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

39. Pork tacos (Slow cooker)
Really good!
Avocado Mash
Basically a simple guac.  Very good.
Corn and Olive Salsa
Tasty and easy

40. Cheddar Chicken
Super tender and juicy!
Pretty Green Beans
Roasted Mushroom Medley

41. Meat Loaf
Very good. Add another egg to the mix, and top with ketchup and 4 slices raw bacon
Hot Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices
Super delicious as a side dish and could pass as a dessert; cooks down a lot so make more than you think you'll need (5 apples served 4 people)
Classic Mashed Potatoes (Boxed or scratch; w or w/o gravy)

42. Easy Eggplant Parmesan
Caprese Salad (Tomatoes, Basil, Sliced Mozzarella)
Rosemary Bread (Bread Machine)

43. Monterey Chicken
Mandarin Orange, Gorganzola, Almond Salad
Pan Fried Smashed Potatoes

44. Mary's Turkey Chili (Slow cooker)
Avocado Salad
Bacon Cornmeal Muffins

45. Bleu Cheese and Bacon Burgers
Honeydew melon slices
Oven Steak Fries

46. Chicken Pita Sandwiches
Pear slices (Fresh or canned)
Oven-Fried Onion Rings with Dipping Sauce

47. Baked Egg Rolls
Asian Sugar Snap Peas
Asian Roasted Carrots

48. Indian Butter Chicken (Stove top or slow cooker)
Creamy Spinach Bake
Basmati Indian Rice (Package or scratch)

49. Homemade Garlic Chicken Pizza
Cesar salad (bag mix from store)
Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

50. Grilled Kielbasa and Pesto Penne
Apple Cranberry Salad
Light and Easy Eggplant Parmesan

51. Grilled Steak (BBQ)
Broccoli Salad
Sweet Potato Fries (Frozen or homemade)

52. Pork Ribs (Packaged, scratch, or slow cooker)
Oven Roasted Fruit
Potato Salad without Mayonnaise

53. Steak and Mushroom Skewers (BBQ)
Gingered Pears
Garlic French Fries

54. Spinach Stuffed Pork Loin
Cooked Rhubarb
I loooved the tangy and sweet flavor!
Slow-Cooked Risotto (Slow cooker)

55. Chile Rellano
Tropical salad: Kiwi, mango, pineapple, banana, etc.
Sweet Corn Fritters

56. Tex-Mex Pot Roast (Slow cooker)
Pineapple spears (Canned or fresh)
Best Bread Machine Bread

57. Chicken Crescents
Grape bunches
Macaroni Salad without Mayo

58. Barbecue Beef and Bean Sandwiches (Slow cooker)
Carrot Apple Salad
Fresh Corn, Cheddar, and Scallion Corn Bread

59. Cranberry Beef or Pork Roast (Slow cooker)
Peach and Berry Salad
Brown Sugar Glazed Butternut Squash

60. French Dip Sandwiches (Slow cooker)
Orange Banana Salad
Cottage Fries with Peppers and Onions

61. Baja Fish Tacos
Southwest Slaw and Aji Guacamole
Corn tortillas

62. Loaded Avocados (Shrimp and tomato stuffed)
Apricot and Arugula Salad
Golden Potato Soup

63. Chicken with Stuffing (Slow cooker)
Autumn Apple Salad
Creamed Corn (Canned or slow cooker)
Very good; the kernels were more whole than I liked so I'll use more creamed corn and less whole corn next time

64. Chicken Parmesan Rigatoni Bake
Tomato Basil Salad
Garlic Toast Points

65. BBQ Chicken and Red Onion Spaghetti (Slow cooker)
Peach slices (Fresh or canned)
Garlic Bread Sticks (Tube or Bread Machine)

66. Three Ingredient Stove-top Pork Chops
A family favorite; super simple to make
Stone Fruit Slaw

Baked Beans (Canned or from scratch)

67. Chicken Caprese
Spinach Gratin
Parmesan Risotto

68. Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Vegetable Tian
Buttery Rolls (Bread Machine)

69. Chorizo and Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells
Mozzarella Tomatoes
Baked Zucchini Sticks

70. Chicken Nachos (Slow cooker)
Tropical Fruit with Lime Dressing
Tortilla chips

71. Fish Sticks (Frozen)
Oven-Roasted Broccoli
Freezer Fries

72. Barbecued Shrimp (BBQ or slow cooker)
Sauce had great flavor. I used unshelled, deveined, de-tailed shrimp and they were tasty but overcooked in an hour-- try 40 mins.
Strawberry and Feta Salad
REALLY good!  A light, refreshing salad with lots of flavor.
Roasted Asparagus
This is the yummiest asparagus recipe I've tried yet.  They didn't get dried out at all, and had great flavor.
73. Chicken Marsala
(Stove top or slow cooker)
Stove top version was good but needed double the marsala sauce amount; Use jarred mushrooms not fresh
Honey Cashew Green Beans
Good but the beans took a lot longer to steam than the time stated; could use sliced almonds instead of cashews
Baked Potatoes (Oven or slow cooker)

74. Steak Fajitas (Slow cooker)
Banana, Coconut, Walnut Salad
Potato and Bell Pepper Gratin with Pepperjack Cheese

75. Easy Mole Chicken Enchiladas
Spicy Slaw
Sweet Corn Cakes (Homemade or package mix)

76. Chicken Cuts with Mole Sauce (Stove top or slow cooker)
Barley (Slow cooker)

77. Baked Ziti
Broccoli Gratin
Double Tomato Bruchetta

78. Chicken Enchiladas Over Rice (Slow cooker)
Mexican Roasted Garlic Broccoli
Poblano Chile Cornbread
Super good and not spicy!

79. Carne Asada Soft Tacos with Guacamole and Corn 
Peach Salsa
Tortilla Bread (Store bought)

80. Garlic Toasted Open Faced Lasagna Ciabattas
Green salad with Italian dressing
Garlic Ciabatta Rolls (Store bought)

81. Firehouse Chicken & Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Carrots in a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits

82. Margarita Chicken (Slow cooker)
Sweet-n-Savory Green Beans
Flaky Mushroom Crescent Turnovers

83. Salsa, Chicken, and Black Bean Soup (Slow cooker)
Mixed Greens with Feta, Almonds, and Blueberries
Oven-Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese

84. Apple, Cheddar, Turkey, Cranberry Meatballs (Slow cooker)
Very good; I cooked them in a roaster oven instead and they took about an hour
Pressure Cooker Artichokes
I cooked 3 huge chokes for 25 minutes with 3 cups of water and they turned out SO good.
Egg noodles with Gravy Made from Drippings
Easy peasy home-made gravy...an ode to my Grandma

85. Candied Kielbasa
Very good and really easy.  The horseradish seemed like it was going to be too strong but it was just right after cooking, so use it all!
Baked or BBQ'd Summer Squash
Twice Baked Potatoes
Very good but a little runny; decrease the amount of milk.

86. Ham and Cheese Spirals
Cranberry Carrot Saute
Baked Artichokes

87. Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders
Definitely use fresh sage leaves, and use 3 per piece instead of one; a really pretty and easy dish fit for company
Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad
Claim Jumper Garlic Cheese Bread Copycat
Yuuuuuuuuummm.  Pretty close! 

88. Chipotle-Lime Chicken Tacos with Crunchy Radish Salsa
Warmed flour tortillas

89. Grilled Stuffed Sweet Peppers (BBQ)
Grilled Peach Salad (BBQ)
Buttermilk Biscuits (Tube or scratch)

90. Grilled Tandoori Chicken with Mango
Garlic Sauteed Spinach
Indian Garlic Naan Bread (Store bought fresh or frozen)

91. Homemade Corn Dogs 
Buttermilk Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce
Cole Slaw KFC copycat

92. Perfect Roast Chicken
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Hasselback Potatoes

93. Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips
Easy Fiesta Beans

94. Lemony Shrimp Scampi Pasta
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portabellos
Cheese Toast Sizzler copycat
Very good!   

95. Pasta Bolognese

Fruit Salad with Citrus Sauce
Easy Parmesan Knots
Very good; turned out too big so cut your biscuits in half before shaping if you are using grands

96. Pasta, Pancetta, and Peas
Oven Roasted Ratatouille
Salt and Vinegar Potatoes with Rosemary

97. Shrimp with Roasted Garlic Pesto Pasta
Green Beans with Lemon and Pecans
Cheddar Bay Biscuits Red Lobster copycat

98. Rigatoni alla Carbonar
 Lemon and Garlic Broccolini
Garlic Cheese Bread

99. Peasant Pasta
I had very high hopes for this dish since it's from Rachel Ray, but I thought it was just okay.  The peas seemed like a weird addition.  Make a different pasta dish instead! Not your best recipe, Rachel!

Rolled Stuffed Eggplant
Great, but time consuming; can be made ahead; use a mandolin for easier cutting and buy and eggplant that's an oval rather than a pear shape to aid cutting.  This is filling enough to be the main course, actually.
Parmesan Cheese Twists
Very good!  The two layers don't stick together well when you are making them, but they turn out tasty anyway; sprinkle with garlic salt before baking.

100. Rosemary Chicken Breasts
Garlic Roasted Vegetables
French Bread (Bread Machine)

101. Macaroni and Cheese
My childhood favorite recipe.  Yummy!
Broccoli and Cauliflower mixed together 
Roasted Potatoes, Mushrooms, Onions, and Asparagus
102. Slow-cooked Macaroni and Cheese
Grandma's Apples and Rice
Balsamic Green Beans and Potatoes

103. Ham Steak (buy a thick ham steak from the meat case, put it on a baking sheet with about a cup of apple juice and bake at 350 for half an hour while covered with tin foil) Soooo yummy and moist!
Cranberry-Apple Casserole
Funeral Potatoes
Good old family favorite!  Sooo deliciously caloric!

104. Ultimate Barbecued Chicken
 BBQ'd Fruit Kabobs
Cole Slaw without Mayonnaise

105. Chili cheese dogs
Apple sauce (Store bought)
Potato chips (Store bought)

106.  Breaded Eggplant Slices
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Baked Mozzarella Sticks

The recipes I included above are dishes that looked good to me and to my family's tastes, so they may not necessarily work for you and your family.

We don't eat fish, and my husband can't eat cream cheese, so you won't see much of that here.  He also doesn't eat chicken that is on the bone, mayonnaise, or cream based sauces.  He loves Mexican food and I love Italian, so there are quite a few nods to those cuisines.

I'm not a trained chef so if a recipe had stuff in it that I couldn't pronounce, had never bought before, or I didn't know how to cook with it, I didn't include that recipe.

I'm also not a dietician. These recipes aren't necessarily vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, low fat, low salt, or any other special kind of diet, although some of the recipes could fall into one or more of those categories.  I don't have any guarantees about the recipes' healthfulness or what they might do to your waistline!

If you're not a fan of how I matched the dishes up, match them up however you like! Who says you have to eat chili dogs with potato chips!

Nope, I have not cooked all of these recipes myself.   Yet.  So I can't guarantee that they are all fabulous.  The recipes that I have made are easy to spot because I added a note in red underneath them with my opinion of how it turned out and what changes if any the recipe needed. When I make a dish that turns out tasting really bad, I delete it from the list and replace it with a different recipe.

To give credit where credit is due, I linked to the source where I found the recipe.  If it was a recipe of my own or my family's, I linked to here. If there is no link given for a dish, that's because it doesn't require a recipe (for example, there is no recipe for plum slices.  Just cut up a plum!).  If I found a slow cooker version and a "regular" version, I tried to link to both.

And in case you're wondering why 106, not 100 or some other number, that's because I started out looking for 50, which turned into 100, which turned into more...I never do anything half way, I've been told. 

Please let me know if you find a broken link!  And I'd love to hear if this list was useful to you!


  1. Ahhhh! sorry...my formatting got all messed up somehow...Will have to fix this when I get some time!

  2. This is absolutely brilliant and will be applying it to our family this weekend! Thank you so much for the different recipes and inspiration!

    1. You're so welcome, Rhianne! Glad you found it to be useful! :-)