Cooking Thrifty Meals For Two

I'm a thrifty 28-year-old, who is married without children. I always look for ways to be thrifty and save the money God has blessed us with. However, I'm having trouble when it comes to meal plans for two.

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Most of the "good value" items in the grocery store come in large quantities, and when I buy them, most of the food goes bad before we eat it all. And stores charge more if you buy smaller portions. I've tried freezing extra foods, but even taking extra care to prevent freezer burn doesn't really work, and the food doesn't taste as good.

How can I make tasty meals for two on a budget? Do you all have any tips for which bulk items freeze well, and for how long?

Katy from Nashville, TN

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April 14, 20080 found this helpful

Hi there: Tonight I made Turkey noodle soup in crock pot. I bought pack of turkey wings (2 in a pack), added water, seasonings, carrots and cooked all day. I took the wings out, gave turkey scraps to dogs in their dinner mix. I put a little of turkey meat back into soup and save the rest, I will make wraps with flatbread and cheese, can add bell peppers, onions (heated up in fry pan)......Cost for

Turkey wings: a little over a dollar.....=2 meals for hubby and me, P.S. Enough soup leftover for his lunch and more too.

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April 14, 20080 found this helpful

Today I made Turkey noodle soup in crock pot w/turkey wings I paid a little over $1.00 for. I de boned the turkey wings and gave scraps to dogs w/their dinner. This made enough soup for dinner, my hubbies lunch plus more. Then some of the meat that I didn't put in the soup, is mostly white meat, I will add to onions, peppers and cheese and put in fllatbread. Two meals for $1.00 for the meat.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

I have the same problems when cooking for my boyfriend and myself. I like to cook hamburger helper, tuna helper (which is REALLY cheap to make) and chicken helper cause its really cheap when its on sale and we can take the left overs for lunch the next day. I can buy a sirloin tip when they are on sale and have part of it ground into hamburger and the rest but into beef stew, steaks, and/or small roasts to freeze. I use the small freezer bags and freeze enough for a meal for the two of us and it seems to hold up well to freezer burn.

I also buy pork loins when they are on sale and have them sliced into thin pork chops. they are very tender, bone free and much cheaper than center cut pork chops and I can also freeze two or three of those in each bag an just have enough when i thaw them out for a meal for two. You can basically do this with any meat. Buy a regular or large package and put small amounts in freezer bags and you wont have tons of left overs. And if i cook something that has a lot of left overs like vegetable soup or something I either freeze it in small plastic containers (enough for one meal) or I take half to my parents cause there are only two of them at home as well.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

I live alone, but of course, the best buys at store are the large packages of meat. If it is a package that was wrapped at the store, ask the meat department to cut, say a large roast, into 2 to 4 smaller pieces and re wrap. When you get home divide it into meal size amounts, each one in separate bag, freeze, and thaw as you use it. I had a 3 pound roast cut into approximately 3 equal pieces, froze two of the sections and used one that day. Each piece was good for at least two meals for me. Would probably be enough for one meal for the two of you, so 6 meals out of a 3 pd roast.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

And a couple of cheap recipes for you: Chicken and dumplings are always cheap. Use whatever kind of chicken you want (whatever is cheapest). For less work and a smaller amount of food use a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and use some cheap canned biscuits for the dumplings.

Another cheap meal I like is fried cabbage and sausage. Just buy whatever kind of sausage you like (I use smoked turkey sausage cause its low in fat). I bought this the other day for $2.50 and a head of cabbage for around a dollar. I sliced about half the sausage and chopped half the head of cabbage and put it in a frying pan and fried them together til the cabbage was tender. Add a little salt and pepper and bake a small pan if cornbread if you like and u have a meal for less than $2-3 and if you only cook half like I did then you have enough for another two dollar meal another day.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

We like making chili, stews, soups, etc. You can typically get some kind of meat on sale at the store, add a few vegetables and perhaps some pasta, rice, or barley. We also sometimes make meatloaf, spaghetti, or Manwich, all of which can be made inexpensively. Without a lot of effort, you can have not only healthy meals but also very inexpensive meals. Invest in a few glass or plastic bowls for taking lunches to work, if that applies here, and you have the perfect lunches for work. If I buy meat in bulk and don't want to use it all right away, I use my Reynold's Handi Vac to vaccuum seal a freezer bag and it will survive my freezer a lot longer. Also, if you make a lot of one meal and don't want your household members to get tired of eating the same old thing day after day, make several different kinds of meals and freeze portions in containers or bags, then eat them at a later date.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

I have found that a "Food Saver" is an excellent iinvestment. There are only two of us, but I buy large packages of meet and vacuum pack them in portions for two. I never have problems with freezer burn. We don't eat Hamburger Helper and all that stuff, it's too unhealthy.

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Also remember that if you are using everything you buy in a smaller portion, you are actually saving more money than buying in larger quantities and throwing it out.

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you so much for these tips! I guess I hadn't considered that it IS saving money if I buy smaller packages and actually use it all up, instead of buying in bulk and it going bad.

I'm learning a lot from all you wonderful people on this site. Many thanks!

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Suggestion - how to get by 4 days with 2 entrees:

Serve the same entree on Mon and Wed, vary the veggies, bread and side dishes. Ditto for T and TH. Fri is leftovers or omelettes. Hope this helps.

Been doing this for years ever since I developed this method. Family never objected as the breads and sides make it seem like a completely new meal. Also, label everything the the fridge with masking tape and a Sharpie marker. Less moldy surprises that way.

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Take a can (or 2) of beef stew place in either a 8x8 or 9x13 pan top with biscuits. bake at temp as directed on package until biscuits are brown (about 350-400* 10-12 minutes)

I shop aldi's allot too.try having breakfast for supper. Maybe eggs, meat, hash browns, and toast.

I love to make porcupine meat balls using 1 pound hamburger. 2 cups instant rice and 1 can tomato juice. Add hamburger and rice. Mix well form into small balls pour tomato juice over it, and cook on medium heat until brown. It's very good, and very filling.

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

My tip is for freezing food...my number one product I absolutely love is called Glad Press N Seal. Next to my whisk, wooden spoons and rubber scrapers, it's the one thing in the kitchen I will not do without. I buy big packages of meat, lay out the portions (for 1, 2 or 3 people, depending on what it is) onto a large piece about 1/3 from end, and proceed to wrap. First I fold over the short end and press down up close to the meat, fold it over, press some more, folding in the sides as I go, all the way down to the end. I stick on a label with the name of what it is, I like to double wrap my meat, so I pull another piece off and wrap it again. By putting the label on the first wrapping, it is protected inside the second wrap from getting wet or coming loose in the freezer. I have pulled out meat from 2-3 months and found it just as fresh as when I got it.

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

I have found it is much easier to cut recipe's in half it is easier to do this then to make larger quanities and freeze, they somehow just do not last & I hate to throw all that money down the drain.Also keep on Hand lunch meat and stuff for sandwiches some night's when you do not feel like cooking a large dinner you can do that or have hot dog's,hamburg's.One thing I seem to make alot are omlets with cheese and cut up pieces of ham.Meatloaf is nice you can alway's make sandwiches the next evening. If you make larger quanities, buy some rubbermaid container's with seperate slot's then you can freeze your main meal and veggie's in the different slot's or just the main meal,then you can serve with roll's or veggies whatever you have on hand when you warm it up.Just make sure when you freeze thing's you do not freeze for long period's of time.I do not understand why but it seem's to me when I was younger thing's lasted much longer in the freezer.That is whay I plan on useing food in a week or maybe 2 that is frozen at the most.Hope this help's Darlene

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Hi everyone!

I just have my husband and myself to cook for as well and I have the same problem with freezing meats and vegetables. What I have found that seems to work for freezing meats is that if you cut the meat into individual sizes, first wrap each piece in plastic wrap, then wrap in a piece of newspaper then wrap in freezer paper. I learned this from a couple of butchers and it works for me. I've had several different brands of vaccum sealers so far and had no luck. I guess sometimes the old ways of doing things really are the best. Hope this helps!

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April 16, 20080 found this helpful

Invest in a vacumm sealer. There are only two of us left at home. I buy in large quanities, divide, & vacumm seal. If I have enough leftovers for another meal, out comes the sealer. Use my sealer daily. Just be sure bags are vacummed and sealed very good.

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April 21, 20080 found this helpful

Brown the meat of your choice then make a pasta or rice dish made by Pasta Roni or Rice-a-Roni or any brand like that in the same pan. You don't have to remove the meat and put it back in. I would drain the fat before making the side dish in that pan. My pasta roni fettuccine alfredo was delicious last night.

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April 22, 20080 found this helpful

Try putting your meats or foods in the veg fruit bags you get in the produce section. I wrap the food first in wax paper or what ever then place it in the poly bag an use a straw to extract all the air. Then I twist tie. No freezer burn especially if you use a deep freeze. The freezer compartment is not for long term storage. I own 2 deep freezers both upright and both manual defrost. The auto defrost to me seem to be just an over size refrigerator freezer, because it has to lower and fluctuate temps to defrost instead of staying at 0 or below constantly.

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May 6, 20080 found this helpful

Here's a quick chicken recipe for two:

1 lbs chicken thighs

1/2 cup water

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup brown or white sugar

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. crushed dried bay leaves

Throw all ingredients in a pot. Boil for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve hot over white rice. Yum!

If you have left over sauce, chicken and rice, you can make fried rice for lunch or dinner the following day. In a frying pan, heat up 1 tbsp oil, throw in your leftover rice, chicken and sauce, along with half a bag of mixed veggies. Saute until all is blended well. Enjoy!

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May 19, 20080 found this helpful

In order to have excellent meals on the cheap, you need to stock your pantry. Making sure that you always have pasta, rice, beans, canned veggies, grains, nuts, dried fruits, oil, vinegar, spices and such, you will never run out of meal options. I always keep a stocked pantry, that way you can just go to the store and pick up whatever meat, fish or veggies that are on sale and whip up a quick meal without a recipe. Canned and bottled sauces are also perfect for the pantry and lend themselves very well to disguising healthy meatless meals that I know my fiancee wouldn't eat otherwise. Frozen veggies are also becoming a great option because there are so many different mixes available now.

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June 12, 20080 found this helpful

Try cooking for 4 and freeze the other two

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June 12, 20080 found this helpful

I second the Reynold's Handi Vac. It was under 10 bucks and the bags are reasonable. Raw meat and cooked meals freeze well with the handi vac. If you want freeze something with some liquid and don't want to squeeze the air out with a regular bag, freeze it in a bowl first then use the handi vac.

Buying in bulk and freezing is the way to go, if cooked or raw. We had skinless chicken breast on sale for 1.79 lb., bought 20 lbs., stabbed them with a fork, placed 2 per freezer bag, added some marinade or water, got as much air out as possible, seal and froze them. Just right for 2 people.

An other investment that is good is a small freezer. They are 100-150 bucks. Good for freezing the stuff you buy in bulk. I have a list on mine with what is in it and the date. Just scratch off what you take out and add what you put in.

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August 9, 20080 found this helpful

I love your website, but in England, biscuits don't come in cans, and we dip them in our tea/coffee. Please enlighten me. Many thanks.

<b> Editor's Note</b> In the US biscuits are unsweetened baking powder buns. In England they are more what we would call cookies in the U.S.

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October 12, 20080 found this helpful

Try Aldi's for produce. You can buy peaches and some other fruits individually, and most of the other produce come in medium size packaging. And like others have said, buy frozen vegetables in smaller packaging because using it all is saving money versus throwing food away. But it does make me feel a little better knowing my throw-aways and peelings go into our compost bin!

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November 3, 20080 found this helpful

I do a couple of different things.

Many recipes are a little awkward to make for two people, so I cook the whole thing, portion it out for the two of us and portion out the other two in gladware to take to school for lunch, or to freeze for a few weeks later. I haven't found many recipes that don't freeze well, but cream sauces and stuffed peppers didn't.

I only go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, and it's a big trip for me. I buy everything in bulk. Ground meats are cheap in those big, packaged tubes. So when I get home, I portion out my ground turkey, beef, and sausage into 1 pound hunks. I wrap those in saran wrap a few times and stack them in the freezer. I don't have a vaccuum packer, but I think my method works great. I do the same thing with chicken breasts and steaks. I found beef tenderloin for 5 bucks a pound, you know I loaded up on that!

I've also started sharing with my neighbor. We both like to cook bigger meals, so we trade our leftovers if we think we're about equal.

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November 3, 20080 found this helpful

Store pre cooked roasted chicken is great for multiple meals as well as saves time and mess. I stand by this because it can be used for 2-4 meals for 2 people and used in many types of dishes. It also gives you a few servings of meat a week and you then can justify vegetarian meals the rest of the week.

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November 3, 20080 found this helpful

I never buy bulk unless it is canned tomatoes or beans. I find we get sick of the same things over and over. Just buy staples like:rice/noodles/canned beans/tomatoes/ canned fruit

This way you can buy your meat and prduce weekly and use staples to make meals. when I need an idea I just search that item on the internet, for example just key in the word kidney bean recipes and you get over 285,000 recipes.

You are bound to have some ingredients to make some of the recipes

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February 9, 20090 found this helpful

I am relearning how to cook for both the hubby and I since our family has went from 5 to 4 to 3 and now many evenings it's just the 2 of us as the youngest child goes to the gym or coaches the volleyball team. I buy roast chickens when I see them on sale and pack them away in the freezer. When I see chicken breasts on sale, I individually wrap them. I pad out hamburger patties and freeze them individually as well. That way it can be a hamburger, small meatloaf or spaghetti. I cut sausage rolls in half for use in breakfast casseroles or sausage gravy. I boil down bones eaten at holidays for use in rich soups later. I have several large bowls I freeze in and it works very well. My hams usually end up split pea soup or baked beans and I just made turkey noodle soup for the first time (we don't have too many turkeys) and it was amazing!

Allrecipes.com is one of my best friends online! They have a scaler that will tell you exactly what you need to make enough for two. One of the recipes that I use VERY frequently is Roast Sticky Chicken. I haven't purchased a roast chicken from the grocery since finding that gem of a recipe! My daughter who is learning more about the thrifty life loves making this one. Learn how to use flour and shortening, or if you wanna be fast, a small can of Pillsbury flaky biscuits will make an awesome pot pie. Use some leftover chicken and vegetables. I make gravy with bouillon cubes, flour and water for the gravy. I also make a lot of stir fry. We always have enough left for lunch the next day or for me to make another dish out of.

I am not store loyal....I get a lot of good deals at Aldi's, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans. It takes a lot of willpower for me to stay out of the gourmet aisles, but I actually find that Wegmans everyday low prices here in the Baltimore area are lower than everyone....some of their stuff is cheaper than Aldi!

I love to bake with yeast and my latest fun food has been pizza! Comes out amazing and we can control what goes on it. I love making them and they are much cheaper than buying one out.

Think out of the box when cooking and I think you will find that you can come up with more than your share of budget meals! Good luck! :)

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October 21, 20090 found this helpful

My husband and I have been married for almost 45 years and now since are 3 children are grown and out discovering the world on their on I was having the same problem fixing meals just for two.

I have discovered a great new little helper which is my crockpot, you can cook almost anything in a crockpot.

I cook Beef Stroganoff, Swiss Steak, Pot Poast with any and all the vegetables you like, Barbecue Chicken or Ribs not to mention the soups, stews and chili you can make. It is also great with desserts.

I will cook meals that feed the two of us for 3 to 4 meals and I divide the meals in plastic freezer storage bowls (usually Ziplock) and for added security I then seal the bowls in freezer bags (usually Ziplock). I have kept these in my freezer for 6 to 8 months and it gives me such a good variety of meals to choose from it works out great plus I save a lot of money by buying in bulk and watching the sales on the meats I use.

This way also makes it great when the kids drop buy because I always have extra food on hand to have dinner for all of us and to them it is just like the good home cooked meals they had when they were growing up, plus they don't mind if I send some home with them.

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October 25, 20090 found this helpful

One of the tricks I have learned is to buy ground beef in bulk and marked down if possible. I then immediately prebrown all of the ground beef, drain and spread out on a cookie sheets and freeze. Once frozen break up into small pieces and put it in a zippered vacuum bag. (I love my Glad vac and seal but they have been discontinued. Ziploc also makes a cheap one) Then when I want to make something with ground beef I can take out enough for that meal, depending on how much is needed. From a single serving of spaghetti to tacos for the family. Saves LOTS of time and money over browning a large frozen hunk of beef. My family can't taste the difference.

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