Cooking for two presents its own unique challenges. Whether you are an empty nester household, a newly married couple, or just have a smaller household, cooking for a smaller family size requires rethinking a few things in the kitchen. This also can be especially challenging if you are used to cooking for a larger family. All of a sudden you have fewer people to cook for each night due to kids going off to college or adult children finally moving out on their own. It also doesn’t help that recipes online or in cookbooks often assume a serving size of four or more people.
Outlined below are a five easy tips on how to make cooking for two a bit easier and more economical too!
Adjust the Size of your Cookware
When you are cooking for two, cooking will be much easier with cookware adjusted for smaller portion sizes. You might find your trusted 9 x 13 casserole dish or your extra large skillet are just too big relative to your quantities. Instead, make sure you have a 8 x 8 sized casserole dish and a smaller scale skillet on hand. It will make your recipes easier to cook and provide better results. If you are marinating meat or fish, consider using a shallow pie dish instead of the typical oblong baking dish. This way your marinade will not be so spread out across the dish and will adequately cover what you are marinating.
Take Advantage of the Freezer Section
Perishables can easily be a massive source of wasted money when you’re cooking for two – it’s much harder for two people to eat everything before it goes bad. We all know how frustrating it is to throw away food because we never got around to using it up! An easy solution to this is the freezer section of your grocery store. Buying bags of frozen fruits and veggies will allow you to only use what your need for the current meal and save the rest for another night, even if that night is not for another week or more. If buying organic is important to you, there are also many organic options now for frozen produce. Frozen veggies also make great additions for casseroles and your favorite stir fry.
And if you are worried about the nutritional quality of the produce, there is no need. You can read more about this here. Remember, frozen fruits and vegetables are your friend.
Buy Only What you Need
This might sound obvious but it is really easy to buy too much when you are cooking for two. Buying the correct amounts can save you money not only at the register but also by lowering your food waste. Here are a few practical tips on making this work for you:
- Take advantage of bulk bins when available. This is a great way to save money without wasting any food. Bulk bins are often cheaper than buying a full-sized package worth of the same ingredient, and you can get exactly as much as you need.
- Make friends with the store butcher. If you only need to buy a pound of meat, ask the butcher what smaller options they have. Or, ask if they can provide you with a smaller cut. You most likely will find they are more than happy to help.
- Buy smaller portions of perishable ingredients: even though you might be used to grabbing the larger size in the store (it is often cheaper on a per unit basis) if you end up dumping it in the bin or down the sink there is no savings. Buy that smaller container in the dairy section, look for smaller packages in the produce section, and even consider buying what veggies you need at the salad bar or in the prepped section of the store.
Use Dried Herbs
Unless you grow your own herbs, make use of your spice cabinet vs. buying them fresh in store. Dried herbs will still impart delicious flavor to your recipes and have the added benefit of having a long shelf life. If you are following a recipe that uses fresh, you can quickly look online for a conversion chart from fresh to dry.
The Weekly Plan is Key
It may be tempting, but cooking for two doesn’t require any less planning. You still need your weekly dinner plan. If you try to just wing it every night, you’ll not only end up overspending at the grocery store, but you’ll be less likely to wind up with a healthy or tasty dinner. Take the time at the beginning of the week to plan each of your dinners and don’t forget to plan your sides at the same time. Check out what is on special at your grocery store so you can take advantage of all the in store specials. Lastly, prepare your shopping list and try to only shop once per week. If this sounds like too much work for you and you are looking for help, you can check out our free two week trial HERE.
Planning dinner is what we are all about here at The Dinner Daily and we would love to help make it easier for you and your family of two!
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