Cooking for two on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t eat well, both in terms of nutrition and appeal. With a little creativity and the right ingredients, you can whip up delicious meals that won’t cost much at all. (We’re assuming you know how to cook, but really—even if you’re new to it, cooking is just following directions. Anyone can do it!) When you get ready to head to the grocery store, you also might want to check out our article on how to grocery shop on a budget.
1. Spaghetti aglio e olio
This classic Italian dish is not only simple but also super flavorful. All you need is spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and some fresh parsley. Cook the spaghetti, sauté minced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until they’re fragrant, then toss the cooked pasta in the mixture. Top it with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley for a restaurant-worthy meal.
2. One-pan chicken and veggies
A one-pan meal is not only convenient but also budget-friendly. Grab some boneless chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. Season the chicken with your favorite spices, then arrange everything on a baking sheet. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. It’s a wholesome and easy meal that requires minimal cleanup.
3. Rice and beans
Rice and beans is a classic budget-friendly meal that’s both nutritious and satisfying. Cook your choice of rice (white, brown, or even quinoa) and pair it with canned or cooked beans (black, kidney, or pinto). Season with your favorite herbs and spices, and don’t forget to add some sautéed onions and garlic for extra flavor.
4. Homemade pizza
Instead of ordering pizza, make your own at home. Purchase pizza dough or make it from scratch using flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt. Roll out the dough, add tomato sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. It’s not only budget-friendly but also a fun and customizable meal.
Stir-fry is an excellent choice for a quick and budget-friendly meal. You can use affordable proteins like chicken, tofu, or shrimp, and a mix of fresh or frozen vegetables. Stir-fry them in a hot pan with a simple sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of honey. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.
6. Vegetable omelet
Breakfast for dinner is always a fun way to change things up. Whisk together a couple of eggs, season them with salt and pepper, and pour into a hot skillet. Add diced vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Fold the omelet in half when the eggs are set, and you have a nutritious, budget-friendly meal in minutes.
7. Tuna salad
Tuna salad is not only easy and budget-friendly but also versatile. Combine canned tuna with mayonnaise, diced celery, onions, and a dash of lemon juice. You can serve it on bread as a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce for a lighter option.
Quesadillas are a fantastic way to use up leftover ingredients and create a satisfying meal. All you need are tortillas, cheese, and a filling, like beans, leftover chicken, or sautéed vegetables. Put it all together, cook until the tortillas are crispy and the cheese is melted, and serve them with salsa or sour cream.
Who doesn’t love tacos? They’re kind of the perfect food, and they’re cheap to make! Use ground beef, turkey, or even black beans as your protein. Top it with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, and your favorite taco sauce. Serve in soft tortillas or crispy taco shells.
10. DIY burrito bowls
Create your own burrito bowls with rice, black beans, sautéed peppers and onions, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheese. Top it off with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for the win.
The bottom line: easy meals for two
Cooking budget-friendly meals for two can be a fun and rewarding experience. These easy and delicious meal ideas not only help you save money but also allow you to enjoy homemade, nutritious food without spending a lot. So, roll up your sleeves, head to the kitchen, and start cooking up wonderful meals for you and your partner.