Cooking for 2 on a budget

Heres the thing, I have a really hard time finding new and interesting recipes for 2 people geared towards keeping your food budget low…its extremely frustrating. I can find plenty of recipes for 2 people at low cost (most are boring, or really unhealthy and don’t involve a lot of fresh veggies), and plenty of interesting (and expensive) recipes for 2 people. but none that incorporate all three.

So what I am going to try to do…(don’t hold me to this, cuz i could totally fail and forget all about this blog again) is share with you at the beginning of my cooking week (which starts on wednesday…because double ad wednesdays at sprouts are the bomb!) my menu for the week, my grocery list and my final cost. I will throughout the week (meaning hopefully at least once) share recipes and total cost for the meal. Hopefully I will have pictures to show for it too!

I am continually surprised at how little information there is on the internet for this type of budgeting because honestly for the food environment that we live in, it is not that expensive to make quality, delicious and adventurous meals for maybe a little more than what you would pay for convenience, and easy meals such as hamburger helper, or stoffers (which I must confess I partake in on the occasion and always feel guilty for about 2 hours later when I am dying for a bathroom) I am particularly blessed in the area that I live, because central california produces LARGE amounts of produce which supply a large amount of the US we have farmers markets and local stores everywhere! Produce here is easy to come by, so hopefully I will be able to keep up this challenge.

One of the keys to my budgeting strategy is making meals that have ingredient overlap, because many ingredients come in packages much too big for 2 people to consume in one meal, so to off set waste, I overlap ingredients as much as possible.

Another big key to my budgeting strategy is leftovers! I HATE leftovers, but a lot of times I will take my leftover meals and make something new out of them. We try really hard to not waste food. Beth takes leftovers for lunch every day like a trouper! and I use whatever is left for dinners midweek and usually again at the end of the week. This also helps me, because there is usually a night after cooking for 2 – 4 nights in a row that I just want a break. So instead of going out and buying something, or getting something at a restaurant we always check the fridge first.

Also I freeze all my meat and anything else I can. I usually buy it fresh because its easier to find on sale, but the wonderful people at ziplock being the geniuses that they are make portion bags (which at first I thought were an unnecessary expense but after using them once I was hooked!) they are so much easier to use than saran wrap! I bag each individual chicken breast and usually 1/2 lb of ground turkey (or beef). then put them in gallon sized ziplock freezer bags. No more having to thaw out an entire bag of chicken to just get 1 or 2 breasts for dinner! its awesome. I also use frozen peas and corn frequently I add them to soups, pastas or casseroles. They keep for a long time and are a great way to add veggies to things when I’m out of fresh produce (which doesn’t happen often but it does happen!)

The only other tip I can give is COUPON! for anything and everything, but don’t buy things you wont use. Beth Coupons for me, I tell her what I’ll use and she finds coupons for it. We use them mostly for dry goods, that way my pantry stays stocked and I don’t spend too much time and money buying bits and bobs for sauces or sides.

So here is the Menu for this week, and the overall cost will come shortly as I have not made it to the store 🙂

Wednesday: Bruschetta Chicken w/ Salad

Thursday: Tomato Basil Pizza w/either Sugar Snap Peas or Brussel Sprouts (I haven’t decided)

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Frittata with Kale, Tomato and Chorizo

Sunday: Turkey Meatloaf w/ Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Kale

Monday: Mustard Glazed Chicken w/ Bok Choy

Tuesday: Leftovers

Shopping List: (I usually categorize because I’m anal like that about food)

Basics: (Things I buy and use every week no matter what)

– Milk (1/2 gallon for us cuz we don’t drink a whole lot of milk)
– coffee creamer (cuz beth can’t drink coffee without it)
– Cheese (cuz we like it)
– Eggs (which I’m actually NOT buying this week because we’re overstocked which is weird)

Vege: the x# is how many recipes its used in this week I don’t go buy measurements I go by eye so you’ll have to figure this one out yourself.

– Tomatoes x3 (usually about 2 per recipe for me)
– Lettuce
– SS Peas or Brussel Sprouts
– Kale x2 (which will probably only be one bunch)
– Bok Choy
– Onion (basic staple so I’ll probably get at least 4)
– Potatoes
– Basil x2
– Green onion (also a staple in my house but one bunch is enough for the whole week)


– Ground Turkey
– Chorizo
– Lunch Meat
(don’t need chicken this week)


– French Bread (Mini Loaf)

Total Cost:______? my estimation is: $35.00 (that is also my weekly budget so we shall see!) I’m off to the store!


Sooooo my trip waaaaas a bit over budget but its the first shopping trip of the month for me, and I didn’t shop last week so its understandable…plus I got alot more than what was on my list…kinda bad on my part but there was sooo much on sale…i couldn’t help myself. here is the actual purchase list

French Bread $0.99
Coffee Beans 1.81 lb @ $7.99/lb – $14.46 (On Sale)
Coffee Creamer $2.49
Whole Milk $1.89 (On Sale)
Bacon $3.01 (On Sale)
Smoked Keilbasa $4.49 (couldn’t find Chorizo)
Chicken Breast $5.59 (On Sale for 2.99/lb!)
Ground Turkey $5.49
Basil $1.99
Bok Choy 1.70lb @ $0.79/lb – $1.34
Brussels Sprouts 0.89 lb @ $1.99/lb – $1.77 (On Sale)
Cucumbers $0.69 (On Sale)
Grape Tomatoes $1.99 (On Sale)
Romaine Lettuce $0.88
Red Lettuce $0.88
Organic Green Kale (They didn’t have non organic :/) $3.98
Rainier Cherries 1.61lb @ $5.99/lb – $9.64 (I know I know….but I LOOOOOOVE them….I can’t resist Rainier Cherries)
Red Potatoes 1.47 lb @ $0.67/lb – $0.98 (On Sale)
Roma Tomatoes 0.78 lb @ $0.88/lb – $0.69 (On Sale)
Yellow Onions 1.57lb @ $0.67/lb – $1.05 (On Sale)

Total with tax : $64.69

Now yes that does seem like a lot for two people…but with the exception of the greens most of that will also go towards next week. In addition to that if you compare my total for that shopping trip with the totals for similar shopping trip to safeway or raley’s mine is much more cost effective. and I guarantee you my produce will last longer.

thats all for now. Perhaps tomorrow I will post about the bruschetta chicken I am making for dinner tonight.


One response

  1. Great concept for a blog. Especially in these times. We are lucky enough to be able to get great fresh fish and meats, as well as Farm Stand veggies in the Pioneer Valley of Masachusetts.

    Carol Colitti Levine

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