Ironically, and as many of us have learned the hard way, creating a meal plan for two can actually be harder than a meal plan for a family. We typically think that doing something for a smaller number of people must inherently be easier. However, in many ways our food system is set up for serving larger numbers of people. Recipes are easier to find for 4 or 5 people than 2, sales at grocery stores are frequently on the “family packs”, slow cookers and Instant Pots need more food to cook properly, and of course many ingredients come in packages that are more suited to cooking for larger family sizes.
But as you may have read here and in other places, having a meal plan is one of the best ways to save time and money, so if you have two people to feed, creating a meal plan for two is equally important. This is especially true if you are trying to minimize waste, keep your grocery bills under control, and just plain eat better.
Outlined below are 5 Tips for creating a Meal Plan for Two:
Get a Plan Together and Make the Commitment:
I know, this tip is heard so often it almost sounds cliche. If you are reading this because you want to get more oganized, you need one. Not having a meal plan for two almost always means spending too much, reliance on take out, or just feeling frazzled at dinner time. It does not have to be hard either. Spend an hour or two at the beginning of the week and plan out your meals. If you can’t stomach that or just don’t have the time, you can give us a try. We will also throw in the added bonus of planning your meals specifically for two people based on the specials at your local grocery store. Just commit to getting a plan together every week.
Make Your Proteins Do Double Duty:
Let’s say your meal plan for two involves having your favorite roast chicken dinner on Monday. Plan to use the extra chicken from the roast for chicken fajitas on Wednesday. If you are planning on having fresh seafood on Tuesday, consider buying a bit extra so you can have leftovers for fish tacos. You could easily get through the week with only 3 different proteins by having your proteins do double duty. Thinking through your week in advance, you can set it up so you only cook two or three times a week but have an organized and efficient plan for the whole week.
You Really Do Need a List:
This goes along with Tip #1 but let’s face it, you need a list. We understand this is one of the most time consuming and tedious aspects of meal planning for two, but you just have to do it. If you don’t, you will end up with a cart full of stuff you don’t need and we all know where that ends. Make it easy on yourself by creating a list for your store, use the store specials when you have time (it will save you real money every week) and only buy what is on your list. Plan out your sides as well as your main meals so you are not just throwing produce into your cart hoping it will be enough. And remember to add any other items you might need for the week (paper towels, food for the dog, etc) so you are not tempted to go back for a mid week run.
Balance Fresh with Frozen:
As we head into summer, we all love to cook with fresh vegetables. They look beautiful in the stores, taste fantastic, and just make us feel good. However, every well stocked kitchen should have some basic frozen veggies at the ready to be used when your fresh produce starts to dwindle at the end of the week. Having frozen veggies to use in casseroles (with your leftover chicken from Monday perhaps) or in a quick stir fry will keep you on track and on plan. And there is nothing wrong with frozen veggies. Check out this previous post on this topic.
Keep Track of your Favorites:
When you a make a recipe that works, keep track of it. Having recipes that work well for meals for two will making planning so much easier. At The Dinner Daily, members are able to save their favorite dinners in their accounts. This allows members to always have a solution for dinner they know will work for them. (Watch our quick video here). It also provides an easy way to get the ingredients onto a shopping list for their store. So whether you use us or do it yourself, having a list of easy recipes that work will save you time and money.
Looking for some help with meal planning? Learn more about The Dinner Daily.