Meal planning for two can be so. dang. hard. Tired 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 four week's worth of meal ideas for you, too!

Man chopping vegetables, from Shelf Cooking

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 get on board with eating that every day!)

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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!


Who's ready to become a pro at meal planning for two?! Ohh, ohh, me, pick me!!! These ideas are going to save you a lot of time. Pair them with date nights, with ordering in, and more!


Weekly meal planner on a clipboard, from Shelf Cooking

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 you have to eat it the exact same way! Don't worry, we've got some great ideas coming your way below.


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 two. It's so much cheaper than grabbing takeout!

You can also pre-cook a bunch of meat when you bring it home from the store and freeze it into smaller portions. We love doing this with ground beef and shredded chicken!

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!


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.


Pressure cooker on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

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!

USE ALLRECIPES.COM is a friend to 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!


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 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 you have planned!


If you usually have a night that you don't eat at home, then plan for it! This will keep you from planning for seven meals at home but then only eating five or six 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. 😉


Copycat Cafe Rio sweet pork rice bowl on a table, from Shelf Cooking

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 1Build 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 1Sweet 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, date nights, or one-time meals 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!

Couple dicing vegetables and cooking on a stove, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more great ideas?

Happy meal planning for two!