I hadn't been really consistent with this in the past because a whole month of empty calendar squares is intimidating. But then I started leaving one day a week empty (Saturday). Then if we decided to go out to eat, I didn't feel bound to the calendar because I knew we could eat that dinner on Saturday switch them around. My next discovery I have to credit to Echo because she told me that once a week they were eating breakfast for dinner, and I got to thinking of our dinners in categories and putting one of each category in each week. Lots of people do this on the same day each week, i.e. Taco Tuesday or Friday Night Pizza, etc. I am more flexible than this and just put it somewhere in the week. Our categories are Pasta, Taco/Mexican, Asian, Soup (in the winter, Grilling in warm months), and Meat and Potatoes or Casserole. I was doing breakfast for dinner, too, but I've started putting in miscellaneous dinners instead and putting breakfast on Saturdays, then I can make a big breakfast on the weekend or substitute it for a dinner another time in the week if I want to.
Every family likes different dinners, and different types of foods, but I found it was nice to use someone's ideas to get me started, so I'm posting February's dinner calendar here in two formats. One in PDF that is in a cute font so you can just print it and post it on your fridge, and make changes with a pencil, and one in a document form so you can type in any changes you'd like to make before printing. I'll try to post one each month since I make one for our family anyway. I'll make an effort to provide links to the recipes when I can, but if you ever want a recipe just put it in the comments and I'll post it!
download Google Document
Edited to add:
I forgot to mention one of the biggest helps in planning dinners: requests! Every month I ask for requests, and it has really changed how I cook. I found that Adam was asking for childhood favorites (hamburger gravy, tater tot casserole, shepherd's pie, etc.), and I had stopped making them because I felt like I had "outgrown" them. But our kids hadn't been exposed to them at all, so now I'm making an effort to bring them back. I also add in one request from each child, and I have gotten some interesting requests. Like chicken noodle soup by candlelight. Or toast. This month is a repeat of last month: chicken nuggets and fries, orange chicken, and curry.
Also by request, here are links to recipes for most of the things on the calendar. If I didn't include a link, it's probably because I cheat with that dinner (usually a store-bought sauce or it's a standby, etc.) or I figure everyone has a favorite recipe for it (like pancakes or shepherd's pie, for example). But if you want to know how I make something and I didn't include a link, let me know (comments, Facebook, email, whatever) and I'll post it. Even if it's admitting that I dumped a can of something and stirred. Because I know you guys love me and won't think anything of that!
Things I've posted about before:
Peanut Noodles (I seriously need to update this post...remind me if I forget!)
And here are the new recipes I'm trying out this month (thank you, Pinterest!). If they turn out*, I'll blog about them:
Beef Stew *this is the one exception; I've actually tried this one out just recently and loved it. I'm planning to share my thoughts on it after I make it again in February.
Avocado Chicken Parmesan (I can tell you right now, I may wimp out on this one...Lily and I are the only avocado-lovers in the family.)