Cooking (and grocery-shopping) for 2


I see so many threads here about meal planning for larger families and groups…I wonder if anyone has thoughts on my situation.

My boyfriend and I are both college students living in seperate apartments, each with a few roommates. Because we’re involved in a lot of activities with similar time committments, we eat together more often than either of us eats with their housemates. We also tend to do our food shopping together, both because it’s fun and it cuts some costs.

My question is this: Does anyone have any suggestions for planning shopping trips and meals for just 2 people who don’t live together? Ideally, I’d like to be able to go “big” shopping for non-perishables once every 3-4 weeks and pick up things like produce, meat, and perishables in a smaller, weekly trip.

Making things even more complicated is the space issue…we each share a fridge/freezer and cabinet space with 2 or 3 other people, so just “stocking up” isn’t the most practical option.

I’m hoping for some real, practical suggestions…eating a well-balanced diet is important to me, and after a long day of classes and work, one of the LAST things I want to do is spend much more than 45 minutes preparing dinner.


My husband and I just started 2 weeks ago of planning our meals for the week. Once we decide what we want to eat for the week we figure out what we have and what we need to buy. We then make a list. We go to the grocery store once a week and pick up what we need for that week. We have also been trying to space the other stuff so there is only one BIG item (like dog food, TP or papertowels) each week. We have also considered just doing a special trip for those things once every month or two months.

Anyway, the meal planning and making a list have really worked for us. Has also cut down on how much we eat out.

Good luck.


Pick up a cookbook or cooking magazine and make up some meal plans.

If the recipe is for more servings than you need - great! Make the entire thing, then freeze the other portions (freezer bags do not take up much of that shared freezer space). Then you will have some fast fix meals when you are really busy/tired.


I feel for you because once upon a time, I was a very young bride who could cook for no less than 10 at at time! I am the eldest of seven, and when helped cooked, I COOKED! Those first few weeks meant eating the same leftovers again…and again…and again! I once served pot roast for four days in a row.:eek:

You have some good advice here. If, as a college student, you don’t have $ for a cookbook-for-2, check one out of the library. Also, magazines and have great budget recipes for 2.

Remember, when you cut ingredients in half in a regular recipe, to remember to ratio the entire receipe. Don’t just cut the chicken, for example, if it’s a recipe for 4. Also cut the salt and other ingredients.


Well, I generally cook for one on weekdays and for two to six on the weekends (when my boyfriend and his friends come over). I tend to buy a lot of vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, carrots, whatever else strikes my fancy) and chop them up and fry them all together (about 10 servings, maybe more). Then I let them cool and put them into little freezer bags or freezer containers. (If you’re short on space, half of them can go in the fridge.)

When I’m cooking, I use those vegetables in my recipes - mix them with pasta sauce and meat for a pasta dish, mix them with curry mix and coconut milk and serve over rice or couscous, mix them with eggs for an omelette, mix them with meat and beans for tacos, mix them with rice and shrimp for fried rice… whatever else you can think of. I find fried vegetables take up way less space than fresh veggies. I also keep fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and spinach on hand to add some freshness to my dishes. Whenever I cook, I always make enough for one or two extra servings, which I can toss in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner someday. I tend to use up the leftovers within the week, so I don’t have a build-up that would use up all my space. Also, when I buy things from the store, I tend to re-package them into reusable storage jars so they take up less space.


quite frankly my advice would be to shop like the French do, daily for the meals at hand, and buy only what you need for that day and maybe the next. if your stores are near work or school that is not too bad. also for 1 or 2 shopping in small stores often works better than supermarkets which size and package for large families


Good luck I have been cooking for two for 6 years and I still make meals to feed 7. :rolleyes:


another option is to eat the way DH does (he is vegetarian and shops and cooks for himself, he thinks I am trying to poison him).
make one huge batch of something and eat it all week until it is gone or grow mold
he will make whole wheat pasta, mixed with about 6 cans of various veggies and tomato sauce and nosh on that for a week.
or mix several veggies in a sauce or gravy, and pour it over microwaved sweet or white potatoes every night
or make a big pot of chili with mass quantities of canned veggies and eat that for a while

our kids call it Dad Chow


This is what I would recommend also. Particularly with all your storage issues. Some basics, like tomato sauce and pasta, I would a bit on hand so that you can quickly cook something!

I only had roommates once in my life as a single and things got crazy enough that even the raw eggs were initialed! Never again!!


I’m in the same situation- FH is over here for dinner unless I’m at work. He never has food at his own place:rolleyes: What I’ve started doing is making a weekly menu. Since we eat a lot of carbs for breakfast/lunch (cereal, pasta etc) I’ve made my menu protein and veggie heavy. Accordingly, I bought large pkgs of chicken, pork chops, etc and divided them into 2-3 pieces and froze individually. So the day before I can take out meat to thaw for the next day’s dinner, and then it only takes 25-35 min to cook, during which time I can throw veggies in the microwave no problem.

If you know your schedule you can plan accordingly, have something simple for busy days, a nice roast for Sunday, that sort of thing. And I put in a leftover day to make a soup or casserole with what’s in the fridge. So basically I only need to buy stuff like milk every week, since I have enough meat for 3. Works nicely.

Hope that helps- happy cooking!


it is not ideal for the long haul, but when I was living along, had to walk everywhere, and limited storage, I bought mixes, rather than individual ingredients, spices etc., which generally make enough for 2 meals. this would be too much sodium etc. over time, but once in a while a good solution


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