How to Meal Prep for 2
I’ve been meal prepping in some shape or form for around a decade now, so I guess you can say I’ve learnt a thing or two about it! The way I meal prep has changed over the years, but I feel like I’m (or more accurately ‘we’) are now in a really seamless easy routine with meal planning and prepping. About 3 years ago my now fiance and I moved in together, so my meal prep routine needed to alter to accommodate the both of us.
Learning how to best meal prep for two meant we experienced new challenges we had to find solutions for. In this post I’m going to cover the challenges and solutions we overcame to make meal prep easier, and answer the common questions I get asked about healthy meal prepping with your significant other.
My biggest tip would be to encourage your partner to cook WITH you! Not only does it make it so much quicker, but you can actually make cooking together fun, and time for you to spend together. Our Sunday afternoon routine is to put on some banging tunes, divide and conquer in the kitchen (meaning we each tackle different meals or different ingredients to cook), portion out our meals, and throw all the dishes into the dishwasher - all whilst singing, dancing around and having a good laugh together! Then once we’re done we sit down for a night of Netflix and chill.
“We need different meal sizes/number of meals”
I appreciate some partners eat similar serving sizes, but what if you don’t? One thing is for sure, my partner needs a HEAP more food than I do - I mean if you took a look at my grocery shop you couldn’t be blamed for thinking I was shopping for a whole family!
Trying to work out how much to cook and portion out for you and your partner shouldn’t be a complicated math equation. My partner eats about 50% more than I do so we simply make his meals that much bigger, plus he eats an additional snack/meal.
An easy rule of thumb is to choose recipes that serve 6 and portion these out into 4 servings, 2 larger servings and 2 smaller servings. Or if your recipe serves 4, add another 50% to the ingredients to make 1.5x that the recipe called for (e.g. if the recipe calls for 400g chicken breast to make 4 serves, use 600g chicken breast to make 4 serves - again portioning these out into 2 larger and 2 smaller meals).
Alternatively bulk out the larger meal with additional veggies, carbs, or add another protein source (e.g. topped with a boiled/fried egg). Then keep easy to grab/no prep snacks on hand like fruit, nuts, yogurt.
“We have different tastes and preferences”
My partner is actually easy going with food and will eat ANYTHING, and it’s me that is the fussy one! In saying that, we want to make meals we BOTH enjoy and look forward to. And neither of us want to spend our entire Sunday in the kitchen preparing a heap of different recipes.
Focus on the ingredients and methods of cooking you both like and create meals around those, or take it in turns to choose a recipe. Another option is to do a bulk “ingredients” style meal prep. This is where you bulk cook one or two sources each of protein (e.g. roast chicken, slow cooked pulled pork), carbs (baked potato, rice), and veggies and store these separately in the fridge. Each night you can both pack a fresh meal using these ingredients, giving you flexibility in portion sizes and variety in what you eat each day.
For example my partner and I both love roasted veggies. My partner prefers his over rice with Sriracha sauce and I love mine tossed through a salad with apple cider vinegar.
“I’m vegetarian/vegan and my partner isn’t”
I’m more of a flexitarian than my partner is, but again we don’t really want to spend forever cooking a heap of different meals. For the sake of variety sometimes we will prep the same meal but use two different protein sources.
For example one of my favourite meal prep meals is my 15min Ginger Chilli Stir Fry. We will cook a double batch of this to serve 4, but cook half chicken / half tempeh. Alternatively if you’re baking chicken, you can bake tofu at the same time and divide these into separate meals.
It’s a perfect solution for both vegetarian/carnivores partners, or flexitarians looking for a bit of variety in their week!
“My partner doesn’t like healthy food and prefers takeaway, but I’m trying to encourage him/her to meal prep”
At the end of the day we each have the right to make our own choices. Be respectful of others choices and you do you - don’t feel like you have to change what you do for yourself. But I would say that leading by example is a great way to slowly encourage others to make that decision for themselves, without guilting or bribing them into it. Whenever you cook, encourage them to have just a taste of your meals, and make your meals look visually appealing, after all we eat with our eyes. Over time they may realise healthy meal prep isn’t so bad after all.
“One of us has food intolerances/allergies”
Again, firstly try and find what you commonly enjoy eating and base your meals around those foods. You can then alter/customise your meals to accommodate different needs. For example if your cooking Mexican enchiladas but one of you is dairy intolerant, you can divide the meals up then top half with cheese and half with a vegan cheese alternative.
It can also be a great way to encourage variety and both try something new. For example if you want to cook a pasta dish and one of you is gluten intolerant you could both try a gluten free pulse pasta. The other person might be pleasantly surprised at how good it tastes and be happy to have the same option.
Just be mindful that if it is a severe allergy or a condition such as celiac disease, a complete avoidance of the allergen in the kitchen is likely needed, so search for alternative options you can both enjoy.
“Our grocery bill seems out of control. How can we keep costs down?”
When I first started buying groceries for 2 it seemed like such a big jump in costs (my partner is a much bigger eater than I am). So I set us a food budget and learnt how to shop and plan meals that were lower in costs. The truth is, you don’t need a pantry full of expensive superfoods to live a healthy life. Some of the best and healthy staples are really cost effective, particularly when bought in bulk.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, buy in season and what’s on special. If you have access, shop at farmers markets and go closer towards closing time. The range might be a little more limited as they have sold through a lot of produce, but this is usually when they sell produce ultra cheap! For your pantry staples (e.g. oats, rice, quinoa, extra virgin olive oil) and meat/poultry/eggs, buy in bulk. It may cost more upfront, but will be cheaper in the long run. Meat can be portioned out and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Also think about using cheaper cuts of meat that can be slow cooked, and incorporating more plant-based meals which tend to be cheaper.
At the end of the day, home cooked meals are much more cost effective than eating out, buying takeaway meals or convenience foods.
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