Easy Meal System for Saving Money and Time

December 21, 2017

 

This system not only saves money, but also the time and stress put into making meals for supper.

 

What is it and why use it?

 

It is a system that consists of cards with specific and general meals on them. It is a tremendous help when thinking of what make for supper and what to buy at the grocery store.

 

Justin and I have been using the system for about two years now, and it is marvelous.

The system stemmed from the age-old argument of “what do you want to eat?”  with the reply of “I don’t know. What do you want?”

 

Justin and I would have this time-wasting argument every night until I would finally just go to the kitchen and whip out the first things I saw. I would throw the ingredients together, and walla, a made-up meal. It was always sub-par and normally missing a few key ingredients.

 

After everything was said, done, eaten, and then cleaned, it was normally edging towards bedtime. Where’d the night go?

 

 + Pro 1: We created this system because it is less stress, less headache, and less worrying about what to eat. It has made the monotonous task of eating supper fun and left time in the night for hobbies.

 

+ Pro 2: If you plan your cards to be healthy meals, it can help you maintain a clean diet.

 

+ Pro 3: It helps in the food waste department because you only bring how the groceries you are going to use for the week. Less food goes bad and needs to be thrown out.

 

+ Pro 4: It saves that money in the respect as well. WE only buy the food items we know we are going to eat. I only deviated from the grocery list when an item is on sale, I will eventually use it, and it won’t go bad in the meantime (Many times, this is normally butter and canned tomatoes).

 

I also sometimes deviate from the meal cards in the summer depending on what’s at the farmer’s market. We then make meals based off of the fresh produce we pick up.

 

How the system works:

 

The system works by making a bunch of little cards out of paper and then writing down meal ideas.

 

I suggest starting with your favorite meals you make all the time.

 

From there, make some generic cards. For instance, Vegetable Lo Mein.

 When I see this card, I know the general idea of what I’ll make. I then decide what type of vegetables I want to use. I like the freedom these cards bring to the card system. They let me think out of the box and switch things up.

 

Once you’ve made all the generic cards, start adding recipe names from your favorite cook books, from Pinterest, on the internet, or even from a magazine. Remember to write on the card where to find the recipe though! I’ve made that mistake a couple of times.

 

When you’re done with the writing on the cards, randomly select a few of the cards for the week. OR, hand them off to your spouse to choose.

Look through the cards and start making a grocery list of items you will need to buy.

Plan the meals according to your family’s schedule for the week. Made you only have meal cards that take less than half hour to make. OR, maybe you want all vegan or gluten free meals. Make the cards to reflect your and your family’s taste buds.

 

I always keep a few blank cards just-in-case I find a new recipe I want to try out.

We also weed some of the meals out according to the seasons. When it gets warm out, we add in grilled meals like brats and burgers. During the fall, we add in meals with squash and sweet potatoes. We then remove them from the big stack once the season is over.

 

When using the cards, I usually keep the meals we just made instead of adding them back into the big stack. Eventually I return the cards once we have gone through most of the stack. I do this so we continually make new meals throughout the month

 

End Note

The meal plan has proved to work flawlessly for us, and we have truly enjoyed the time and money freedom it brings to our lives. We will probably continue to use the system forever. It makes cooking supper easy, and who doesn’t like easy?

 

These meal cards have helped us start living a clean, sustainable lifestyle. I hope you consider making your own meal cards and cut the fluff of having the “what are we eating for supper?” conversation. No one needs that added stress.

 

I have included an extensive list of all our meal card ideas below. Sorry no recipes, but here's a link to my Pinterest Dinner Board. P. S. I did not make all my cards in one day. 

 

Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!

 

 

Mexican:

  • Taco Salad

  • Stuffed Mexican Peppers

  • Crockpot Mexican Quinoa Tacos

  • Taco Pasta

  • Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

  • Tex-Mex Beef Wraps

  • One Pan Mexican Quinoa

  • Cilantro-Lim Vegan Tacos

  • Quesadillas

  • Enchiladas

  • Chicken Fajitas

  • Spinach Artichoke Quesadilla

 

Pasta:

  • Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

  • Artichoke Pasta

  • Tuscan Rigatoni

  • Spaghetti and Meat Balls

  • Sausage and Mozzarella Lasagna

  • Mushroom Risotto

  • Sun Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta

  • Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach – Crock Pot

 

Asian:

  • Vegetable Lo Mein

  • Chicken Fried Rice

  • Roasted Teriyaki Mushrooms

  • Ground Meat Stir Fry

  • Asian Stir Fry

 

 

Soup:

  • New Soup

  • Italian Hillside Garden Soup

  • Bean Soup

  • Leek and Potato Soup

  • Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Wild Rice Soup

  • Three-Bean Chili

  • Chili and Cinnamon Rolls

  • Chili and Corn Bread

  • Enchilada Quinoa Chili

  • Mediterranean Chili

  • Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

  • Black Bean Chipotle Soup

  • French Onion Soup

  • Potato Soup

  • Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup

  • Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

  • Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

 

Pizza:

  • Black Bean Pizza

  • Prosciutto, Fig, & Arugula Pizza

  • Philly Cheese Steak with mushrooms Pizza

  • Artichoke Pizza

  • Meaty Pizza

  • Mushroom Pesto Pizza

  • Vegetable Pizza

  • Mexican Pizza

 

Other:

  • BLT + Mayo and Cheese

  • Roasted Chickpea Gyros

  • Jambalaya

  • New Grilled Cheese Creation

  • Gruyere, Herb, & Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

  • Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

  • Grilled Cheese and Ham

  • Open Faced Meatball Subs

  • Sausage and Peppers

  • Barbecued Pork Sandwiches

  • Chicken and Rice

  • Parmesan Potatoes and Chicken

  • Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

  • Beefy Burger (Sloppy Joes)

  • New Casserole

  • Spinach Parmesan Rice Bake with Sausage

  • Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole

  • Eggplant Parmesan

 

Fall:

  • Baked Sweet Potato with Chickpeas

  • Sweet Potato Stew

  • Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

  • Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

  • Coconut Lime Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts

  • Jamaican Quinoa & Sweet Potato Stew

  • Butternut Squash Soup

  • Roasted Butternut Squash Bacon Soup

  • Butternut squash, Chickpea, and Lentil Stew

  • Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

  • Creamy Butternut Squash Alfredo Pasta

  • Lentils with Roasted Squash

  • Acorn Squash and Ground Meat

 

Warm Weather:

  • Balsamic Chicken Salad

  • Creamy Zucchini Soup

  • Spicy Thai Zoodles

  • Thai Peanut Zoodle Bowl

  • Burgers

  • Southwest Burger

  • Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

  • Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burger

  • Pork Chops and Rice

  • Pork Chops and Beans

  • Brats and Side Dish

  • Brats and Noodle Salad

  • Brats and Quinoa

  • Chicken Kabobs and Rice

  • Honey Chicken Kabobs with Potatoes

  • Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

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References

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