When you don’t have kids, this is how meal planning for two can save you money. Learn how to change recipes and plan ahead. Plus, get a FREE monthly meal planner printable sent straight to your inbox so you can start budget meal planning today.
Why is meal planning for two people so hard? Want to know some ways that you can breeze through it? You got it!
Planning out your meals will save you so much money. You won’t be impulse-buying expensive (and un-nutritious) takeout. Plus, you can control exactly how much food you buy (and limit food waste).
All it takes is a little planning which can be done in 6 steps:
- Create a master list of your favorite meals.
- Set your budget.
- Organize your menu.
- Modify recipes for two people.
- Plan for recipes that reuse leftovers.
- Shop your freezer and pantry.
Think this sounds too hard? Then keep reading! I’ve got some hacks that will make meal planning one of the easiest parts of adulting!
What Is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is basically creating a menu for your home. Some people create a meal plan for just one week at a time, others plan a month’s worth of meals all at once.
The length of time and how many meals you plan for are all personal choices. Some people find comfort in planning out all three meals for an entire month. Others prefer to only meal plan one week at a time.
There isn’t really a list of rules you have to follow when you meal plan. The most important thing is that you focus on cooking meals everyone enjoys so you save money. How you go about that is entirely up to you.
How To Meal Plan For Two Adults
Are you ready to get started? It’s honestly so much easier than you might think. I broke meal planning for two into 6 very simple steps. I’ll also share some hacks that will take the drudgery out of it and actually turn it into something you look forward to.
Step 1: Create A Master List Of Your Favorite Meals
Before you even start to look at the calendar, open up a notebook and start writing down all of your favorite meals. Since this is meal planning for two, ask your spouse or partner to write their favorite meals down too.
Make this list as long as you possibly can.
Believe me, there are times when you will be so tired that you stare at your calendar and your brain goes blank! You just can’t think of the meals you enjoy. That’s where this master list comes in.
If you want, you can even sit down on Pinterest and start creating some meal boards full of your favorite recipes.
Step 2: Set Your Budget
Before you start planning to eat steak and shrimp 3 times a week, take this very important step into consideration. Write down how much money you are going to spend on groceries every week.
The best way to figure out this amount is to go back through the 3 previous months and calculate how much you usually spend on groceries each week. If you don’t cook very often, you might have to plan for a little extra money to cover the added meals.
Step 3: Organize Your Menu
Now it’s time to sit down and create your meal plan. You can do this in your calendar or planner, or you can download my free monthly meal planner calendar.
Start writing down your favorite meals. Mix up the types of protein that you use and the types of meals that you’ll cook.
As you meal plan, keep holidays and social plans in mind so you don’t plan a meal when you won’t be home.
Step 4: Modify Recipes For Two People
Have you ever noticed that lots of recipes in cook books and on food blogs can feed a family of 5? I have.
As you pin posts and plan the recipes, you might have to adjust them so they only feed two people. When you are on a budget, food waste is a very important problem you want to avoid.
Step 5: Plan For Recipes That Reuse Leftovers
The best way to avoid food waste and stay within your budget is to plan ahead for meals that reuse leftovers.
For example, one night you might make chicken teriyaki. Then a few days later you can make chicken fried rice with the leftover rice and chicken.
There are so many meal ideas that you can repurpose for later on in the week.
Step 6: Shop Your Freezer and Pantry
Finally, save money by planning meals that use food you already have in your pantry and freezer.
If you are struggling to think of meals you can make with something in your pantry, search on Pinterest. Just by searching, “dinner idea with dry red kidney beans” you’ll find tons of ideas.
Hacks That Make Meal Planning Easier
Believe me, meal planning will save you so much time and money. If you are still worried about how to do this for just two people, here are some hacks that will turn this from a chore to a party!
Plan The Menu Together
When you sit down to plan the meals, pour a cup of coffee and do this with your spouse or partner.
Not only will working together ease your stress, but you’ll also get their feedback and plan out meals you both enjoy.
Plan For Eating Out
My family plans for eating out once a week. You can plan that or allow for more times a week. The entire point of a meal plan is to help you stay within your budget.
If you can afford to eat out more than once a week, put it in the plan.
Allowing takeout food in your meal plan will also make it feel less restrictive and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
Meal Plan On A Full Stomach
For some people, meal planning is a stressful, anxiety-inducing chore. The worst thing you can do is try to plan out a week’s worth of meals when you are hungry and grumpy.
Instead, meal plan after dinner or while you are munching on your favorite snack.
Use Free Meal Plans
Another time-saving hack is to just copy meal plans from food blogs. There are so many free ones out there.
I shared my entire monthly meal plan and even included links to our favorite recipes.
Search for “free meals plans for two people” and you’ll find a lot of fantastic ideas. Here are some of my favorites:
- Instant Pot School – Get access to 4 video lessons and meals to make in your Instant Pot. You’ll love this amazing tool to make dinner easier!
- A Couple Cooks – They give you 28 days worth of meals with links to the recipes.
- Walking On Sunshine Recipes – She updates this list with new recipes each week so keep it bookmarked.
- Don’t Waste the Crumbs – This is a complete meal plan with 3 meals a day. It’s for a family of 4, so remember to cut the recipes in half.
Plan A Month At A Time
When you plan the entire month’s worth of meals all at once, you don’t have to do it again until the next month. This is a huge stress-relief!
It really doesn’t take much longer to plan a month ahead than just a week.
Plus, when you plan out a month’s worth of meals, you can see how often you are eating the same recipe or type of food and change things up.
Make Meal Planning Fun
Turn on your favorite music and make it fun! Don’t look at it like it’s a chore that has to be done. Instead, make this something you enjoy doing with your spouse.
Create little mini challenges. Include your favorite desserts in your meal plan. Do things during this meal planning time that breaks you out of the hum drum of it all.
Plan Different Types Of Meals – Menu Hack
Another thing that will make your meal plan feel more interesting and help you stick to it is to plan different types of meals.
This is also a little hack that will break you out of “menu writer’s block” – those times when you can’t think of any more recipes.
Instead of trying to think of “chicken recipes” plan these types of recipes.
- Slow Cooker Meal
- Finger Food
- Cultural Meal – Try something Tex/Mex, Chinese, or Italian
- Copycat – Recreate your favorite restaurant’s food in your kitchen
- Sliders – there are so many different types of sliders you can make. From the trusty cheeseburger sliders to the more adventurous Monte Cristo sliders, the options here are pretty endless.
FREE Monthly Meal Planner Printable
Meal planning for two is going to save you so much money and actually reduce your stress, too. When you know what’s for dinner for the entire month, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. It’s amazing!
Plus, when you plan out your meals, you are able to eat healthier on a budget! Saving money and eating better at the same time? It really can happen.
You can get your FREE Monthly Meal Planner printable by signing up for my Free Budgeting Basics Email Course. It’s part of my Free Resource Library, which is full of 20+ printables that I’ve made specifically for you! You can sign up below to get the printables delivered straight to your inbox. It’s time to start budget meal planning today!