Easy Meal System for Saving Money and Time
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
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!
Stuffed Mexican Peppers
Crockpot Mexican Quinoa Tacos
Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
Tex-Mex Beef Wraps
One Pan Mexican Quinoa
Cilantro-Lim Vegan Tacos
Spinach Artichoke Quesadilla
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Spaghetti and Meat Balls
Sausage and Mozzarella Lasagna
Sun Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta
Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach – Crock Pot
Vegetable Lo Mein
Chicken Fried Rice
Roasted Teriyaki Mushrooms
Ground Meat Stir Fry
Asian Stir Fry
Italian Hillside Garden Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Wild Rice Soup
Chili and Cinnamon Rolls
Chili and Corn Bread
Enchilada Quinoa Chili
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Chipotle Soup
French Onion Soup
Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese
Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms
Black Bean Pizza
Prosciutto, Fig, & Arugula Pizza
Philly Cheese Steak with mushrooms Pizza
Mushroom Pesto Pizza
BLT + Mayo and Cheese
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
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)
Spinach Parmesan Rice Bake with Sausage
Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole
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
Balsamic Chicken Salad
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Spicy Thai Zoodles
Thai Peanut Zoodle Bowl
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