Meal planning for two can be so. dang. hard. Stop getting sick of eating the same thing over and over! Use these handy tips to help cut down on your food waste and save on your grocery bill. Oh, and we've got 4 week's worth of meal ideas for you, too!
Newlyweds? Empty nesters? Roommates? Single parent and kid? Whatever your situation, cooking for two can be hard. You usually end up spending way more money than you should at the store. Not to mention, it's no fun eating the same exact thing day after day. (Unless it's ice cream; we can always get on board with eating that every day!)
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Start using these meal planning for two tips and get off the struggle bus! We've got great ideas to get you used to cooking for two. Plus, you're actually going to be excited about your leftovers when you're done, we promise. Our meal ideas will have you itching to get meal planning!
OUR BEST TIPS WHEN MEAL PLANNING FOR TWO
Who's ready to become a pro at meal planning for two?! Ohh, ohh, me, pick me!!!
PLAN YOUR MEALS
That's right! The first step to meal planning for two is to plan your meals. It's the name of the game, folks. This is the absolute best way to keep your grocery budget in check and make sure you're not going to have any food waste! Plan your meals one week in advance. This will allow you to look through your kitchen inventory and make your grocery list before you go to the store.
Plan to use your leftovers towards the next meal. You’ll use every drop of the food that is cooked, but won’t notice you’re “repurposing” it. If the word “leftover” makes you instantly gag, think of it this way… You're pre-cooking and prepping your food to be used in multiple meals that week. Just because it's left over doesn't mean that you have to eat it the exact same way! Don't worry, we've got some great ideas coming your way below.
THE FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND
When you cook, plan to freeze half! You could even make double and freeze most of it. This will help you to stock up your freezer for future meals and helps to keep serving sizes smaller. It's the perfect way to always have a healthy, homemade meal for those nights you don't feel like cooking or need an easy meal for one. It's so much cheaper than grabbing takeout!
You can freeze so many different foods, it's crazy! Let the freezer be your friend when you're meal planning for two and you'll save sooooo much time and money!
DON'T MAKE MEALS THAT YOU WON'T REHEAT
If there's a meal that you absolutely don't like the leftovers for, don't make it! Save it for those times when you're going to have family or friends over. Make sure enough people will come to help you eat it all the same night you make it.
USE THOSE KITCHEN APPLIANCES
If both of you work and have a hard time cooking meals, use the slow cooker or Instant Pot to your advantage! Let it do all of the heavy lifting for you. It'll save your time and sanity. We have some great tips for using the Instant Pot if you're new to it!
Pro Tip: Line your slow cooker with a liner to make cleanup a breeze!
Allrecipes.com is a friend to all shelf cookers! You can search for recipes by ingredient to help you use up what you have. It's perfect for meal planning for two because you can also adjust the serving size in each recipe. It will automatically adjust to scale the recipe down. That way, if you don’t want to make a large meal and freeze the excess, you don't have to!
BE PICKY ABOUT WHAT YOU BUY IN BULK
Avoid buying bulk unless it's something you can freeze or will last a long time in the pantry. When freezing your bulk items, either use a vacuum sealer, freezer bags, or freezer-safe containers. You want to make sure to keep freezer burn away so your food will last as long as possible! We recommend air-tight containers for storing any perishables in the pantry to help them last as long as possible.
For those items that you would normally buy in bulk, stick with sale items at smaller stores. We all love Costco, but you’ll probably end up wasting more than you save on some of those products. Make sure that any food you buy for the week can be used in multiple meals that you have planned!
PLAN FOR EATING AWAY FROM THE HOUSE
If you usually have a night that you don't eat at home, then plan for it! This will keep you from planning for 7 meals at home but then only eating 5 or 6 of them. Whether it's date night, getting together with friends, or a work event, plan for it! Bonus points if you can take the one meal and save half to eat at home for another meal. We are all about filling up on that free bread or chips and salsa. 😉
MEAL IDEAS FOR TWO
Okay, we're sure some of you are still leary… “This is all easily said, but how do I really go about meal planning for two and repurposing those leftovers?” Here are a few different examples to get you started.
- Day 1 – Oven-roasted chicken breast, scalloped potatoes and salad with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
- Day 2 – Use the leftover chicken breast to make Italian cream cheese chicken, rice and corn.
- Day 3 – Use the leftover Italian cream cheese chicken to make a delicious creamy chicken soup and crusty bread.
- Day 1 – Steak fajitas, refried beans, and Mexican rice.
- Day 2 – Use the leftover steak to make a steak fajita rice bowl or salad.
- Day 3 – Repurpose the meat again to make a steak quesadilla with homemade salsa.
- Day 1 – Build your own pasta meal with chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce, a side salad, and garlic bread. Keep the chicken, sauce, and pasta separate so you can repurpose.
- Day 2 – Chicken Alfredo sandwiches with caramelized onions and mushrooms.
- Day 3 – Alfredo pizza with chicken and mushrooms on a homemade crust.
- Day 1 – Sweet pork rice bowl.
- Day 2 – Sweet pork tacos, switch up your toppings for variety!
- Day 3 – Sweet pork sandwiches or throw together a salad jar for lunch.
Complete your week with your favorite stand-by meals, freezer meals, one-time meals or eating out and you're good to go! If you want even more ideas like this, then be sure to head on over to our post where we've got over 70 ways to repurpose your leftovers. You may thank us by way of chocolate and jelly beans. 😉
Do you have any meal planning for two tips that have really made a difference in your life? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for more great ideas?
- If you like salmon, then you have to try our favorite smoked salmon bagel!
- Start making your breakfasts over the weekend to save time and money during the week!
- Grab our ultimate list of dinner ideas printable for those weeks when you're having a hard time coming up with meals while you're meal planning!