Easy and Cheap Dinners for 2 on a Budget

There’s a lot of frugal cooking tips for families online, but when it comes to just two people, the information isn’t as plentiful.  Today I’m going to share some tips for frugal cooking for two, as well as some easy meals for two on a budget.

For me, I’m at the stage of life where I’m cooking a LOT of food for my family.  I have a teenager, and a preteen, and another younger one.  I also have a hard-working carpenter husband who is very hungry when he comes home from work.  

However, before kids I was only cooking for two.  And surprisingly it comes with it’s challenges to avoid food waste, which in turn wastes your hard-earned money of course. I had to learn not to make too much food or it would go bad in the fridge and turn into science experiments.

As well, I often make a separate meal for myself apart from my family.  The reason is because I have health issues that require diet restrictions, and so I can’t eat what they eat many nights or I will pay for it later.  And I’m just gonna be straight up honest here – trying to get them to eat what I eat would cause some serious dinner wars.  For some reason they think my chickpea and quinoa dinners aren’t delicious!

Anyways, first I’m going to share with you some tips on how you can save money and make it easier when cooking for two on a budget, and then I’m going to give you some links to recipes where you will find frugal meals for 2.



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Buy bulk packages of meat and divide them into smaller portions.

Purchase some freezer bags and buy meat and bulk.  Divide the meat into meal-sized portions for two and put them in separate freezer bags.  So, for example, if you buy chicken breasts you might put just two chicken breasts in each freezer bag.  That way you are only using what you can eat.

Freeze the leftovers.

The other way you can do it is to cook a family-sized meal but then freeze the extras for another day.  This doesn’t work for everything, but a lot of foods freeze really well once cooked.  This works really well for a day when you are just too tired to cook and have the urge to get take-out because it’s quick and easy.  Once you remember you have food in your freezer you just need to warm up, you will skip the drive thru and head home to eat.

Using some freezer containers like this are really helpful for leftovers.

Pack the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Taking sandwiches every day to work for lunch can get tiresome.  Switch it up by bringing leftovers to work.  If you don’t have access to a microwave to warm it up you can get a thermos which will work for a lot of kinds of foods.

Freeze grated cheese.

If you find you can’t get through your cheese quick enough with just two of you, grate the bar and freeze half of it.  You do want to make sure you grate the cheese first because it doesn’t freeze properly if you don’t and then it will just go to waste.

Freeze half a loaf of bread.

Maybe you can’t get through your bread fast enough either?  Take half the loaf out and put it in a freezer bag and freeze it so it doesn’t start to go stale or moldy.

Meal prep for the week.

This works really well for lunches as you may be okay to eat the same thing for most of the week.  On Sunday (or whatever day works for you) you make a bunch of different foods you will need for lunch that week.  You then divide it into individual portions (or portions for two).  This reduces waste and saves money. 

So you might make a pot of rice, some chicken, and roasted vegetables.  You’ll then take all that food and divide it into containers for the rest of the week.  Each day you’ll pull out one container which will be just enough for that meal.

Share the bigger meals.

Want to make soup but don’t want to be eating soup for days?  Consider inviting someone over for dinner, or bringing half the batch of soup to someone who could use a meal delivered to their door.

Use shelf stable items when possible.

Things like dried herbs, rather than fresh herbs will last longer, or consider using frozen vegetables for certain types of produce you can’t seem to eat through fast enough when you buy fresh.  


Below are some cheap dinner ideas for 2 that you will want to try!

Turkey Sloppy Joes from The Spruce Eats

Mushroom Spinach Risotto from bbc Good Food

Spicy Chicken Enchiladas from Taste of Home

Slow-cooked Meatloaf for Two from Taste of Home

Shepherds Pie for Two from Dessert for Two

Chicken Thighs Marsala for Two from The View from Great Island

Easy Tomato Soup Recipe for Two from Baking Mischief

Chicken Noodle Soup from Zona Cooks

Chicken Taco Soup for Two from All Recipes

One Pot Fettuccine Alfredo for Two from Katie’s Cucina

Easy Tossed Salad for Two from Taste of Home

Potato Salad for Two People from Big Oven

And because we all need a little dessert in our life, but if you are anything like me you know if you if you make a whole batch of cookies you may just eat them all, here are some dessert recipes for two.

Small Batch Brownies for Two from Kristine in Between

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies from Dessert for Two

Chocolate Cake for Two from Style Sweet

Apple Crisp for Two from Live Well Bake Often

Banana Loaf for Two from The English Kitchen


It’s funny how it sometimes feels more complicated to cook for just one or two, rather than a family of 5.  That’s because most food is purchased in larger quantities to accommodate family servings.  However, cooking for two doesn’t have to be stressful.  Just apply some of the above ideas and try out some of the recipes in this post as well.

I’m curious, how many people do you cook for?  Have you had to learn how to transition from cooking for a small group to a larger group or vice versa?  I’m curious, how have you made it work for your family?  Leave it in the comments below!


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