Pasta Monday, Sheet-Pan Thursday, and more delicious ways to put the dinner planning on autopilot with a theme for ever night.

BLT Rotini
Caitlin Bensel
| Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Serving dinner to your family doesn't have to be a struggle. Imagine coasting through meal planning every day of the week. It's as simple-and delicious-as introducing this rotation of menus into your life.

Pasta Monday

Looking to bust out of a spaghetti-and-meatball (or buttered-noodles) rut? There are loads of other guaranteed-to-please flavor combos, including this bacon-topped number. Recipe to tryBLT Rotini

More Ideas for Pasta Night

  • Cheese ravioli with pesto, broccoli, and lemon
  • Spaghetti with turkey Bolognese
  • Pasta primavera with shrimp
  • Macaroni and cheese (yes, it counts!)
Slow-Cooker White Bean Minestrone
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Slow-Cooker Tuesday

Give taco night (and yourself!) a break with a dinner theme that's virtually hands-off. Bonus: This soup is supernutritious. Recipe to try: Slow-Cooker White Bean Minestrone

More Ideas for Slow-Cooker Night

  • Butternut squash soup with crumbled bacon
  • Beef stew with root vegetables
  • Risotto with asparagus and peas
  • Chicken thighs with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar
Rainbow Shrimp Bowls
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Veggie-Bowl Wednesday

Kids will love the colors; you'll love that they're getting a plant-forward meal that works in a few fridge staples. (FYI, picky eaters may prefer their ingredients separated.) Recipe to try: Rainbow Shrimp Bowls

More Ideas for Veggie-Bowl Night

  • Vegetable fried rice with broccoli
  • Farro with shredded chicken, sweet potato, chopped walnuts, and vinaigrette
  • Rice and beans with corn, Jack cheese, crunchy slaw, and guacamole
  • Quinoa with chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and ranch dressing
Sticky Apricot Chicken Thighs
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Sheet-Pan Thursday

Pick a protein, add vegetables, then work in some flavor-say, a marinade or a spice rub. You've got dinner and only one pan to clean! Recipe to try: Sticky Apricot Chicken Thighs

More Ideas for Sheet-Pan Night

  • Chicken tenders, bell peppers, and fajita seasoning
  • Maple-mustard pork chops with green beans
  • Shrimp with garlic, lemon, and zucchini
  • Chicken sausages with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions
Grandma-Style Pizza with DIY Toppings
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Pizza Friday

Gather up the kids and turn dinner into a team effort by making this sauce-on-top-of-cheese pie. Each family member gets to call dibs on a section and top it any way they choose. Recipe to try: Grandma-Style Pie With DIY Toppings

More Ideas for Pizza Night

  • Margherita pie cooked on the grill
  • Calzone with red sauce, mozzarella, and broccoli
  • Store-bought naan bread pizza with cilantro pesto
  • Sausage-and-kale skillet pizza made with a store-bought cornmeal crust

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's September 2020 issue as "Every Night is Theme Night." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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