Table for Two

Before I got married, I had visions of myself being “the perfect wife.” I’d have dinner on the table before my husband got home, the apartment would be spotless, and we’d always have enough food in the fridge. Basically, I’d be a modern-day June Cleaver. These visions came true for about all of two weeks… and then reality set in. There is no such thing as a perfect wife. Who would’ve thought ;) ?

Although I rarely have dinner on the table before Jordan gets home from work, I do finally feel like I’m figuring out this whole cooking for two thing.

Step 1: Plan, plan, plan.

Since I’m in charge of the cooking, I choose what we eat. Even if I ask Jordan what he feels like, he usually says that he doesn’t care. When I’m planning our dinners for the week, I spend a few minutes exploring blogs and Pinterest to check out new recipes. Once I find a few recipes that I’d like to try, I make my meal plan for the week.

My favorite food blogs at the moment are How Sweet It Is, Eat, Live, Run, Iowa Girl Eats, and The Pioneer Woman

Step 2: Make a list.

Once I have my meal plan written, I make my grocery list. I make sure to include everything that I need for the recipes, as well as things that we might need for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

On average, we spend $75-$100 per week on groceries — it just depends on what we need for the week.

Step 3: Stick to the list.

Once I make my grocery list, it’s time to go shopping! In order to avoid spending way too much money, and grabbing more food than we’ll be able to eat during the week, I try to stick to my list as best as I can. Sometimes I’ll stock up on things that aren’t on my list — yesterday I grabbed black beans, tortilla chips, Greek yogurt, and extra cans of green chiles, because I know that we’ll eventually use them — but usually, sticking to my plan takes the stress out of shopping (in fact, I love grocery shopping!).

Step 4: Prepare.

After I get home from the store and all of the groceries are put away, I write my meal plan on our menu board so I’ll remember it during the week. If you don’t have a type A personality like I do, then this might seem a little crazy, but it’s the best way for me to remember what’s for dinner after I spend all day at work. I know that some people like to prep all of their meals ahead of time, but I’m not that prepared. Cooking helps me unwind after a day at work, so I don’t mind chopping veggies the night that I’m cooking, even if it means that it’ll take me a little longer.

5. Expect things to change.

Sometimes, no matter how much I plan, life happens and the plan gets thrown off. Between house hunting, mortgage meetings, and evening gym sessions in preparation for our half marathon, this has happened to us — when we get home late at night, the last thing I want to do is spend another hour in the kitchen. I’ve learned that it’s okay. If I was planning on making salmon, I’ll just throw it in the freezer and save it for a later date. I don’t always have to stick to the plan.

6. Enjoy!

Instead of eating on the couch in front of the TV (which I’ll admit, happened way too many times this past winter), we try to eat together at the kitchen table as much as we can. It’s nice to have a few moments away from modern distractions, giving us time to catch up with each other without our phones, laptops, or TV. Enjoying our food at the table makes my time spent in the kitchen feel even more worth it, too!

Now, with all of that being said, I feel like I have it somewhat easy when it comes to meal planning. We don’t have any picky eaters in our house yet, and Jordan is just about as go with the flow as they come. When I wrote about my problem with wasting food, many people commented saying that they have trouble cooking for two, because they don’t have the same food preferences as their significant other. I can relate — Jordan is a meat and potatoes guy, and I’m practically a pescetarian. How do we deal?

We compromise. Jordan loves his meat, so I’ll normally cook chicken or fish two or three times per week, and everything else is vegetarian. Meat makes our grocery bill more expensive, I don’t feel like I need to eat it everyday, and Jordan has never complained — he usually eats meat at lunch, so he gets his fill. I’m not a huge fan of red meat (I can count the number of times I’ve cooked it on one hand), but if I find a recipe that sounds particularly good (like this one that I’m making this week), then I’ll happily make it for dinner. Jordan is pretty honest, letting me know what he likes and doesn’t like, so we’ve developed some favorites over the past nine months, and I have a feeling that eventually, we’ll have a solid set of go-to recipes.

I may not be June Cleaver, but we’re definitely not going hungry over here :) .

Do you meal plan?

Do you live with someone who has different tastes than you? How do you compromise?

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27 Responses to Table for Two

  1. I LOVE this post! I’m so excited to figure all this out with Josh when we get married. I really want to cook and meal prep for us. If he was left to his own devices he’d eat bagels, cereal, and cheese for most of his meals so I’m excited to be able to meal plan some healthy options. I love the idea you have of putting a whiteboard in the kitchen, I want to do that! I feel like when I have a plan out like that it would make me accountable and to stick to it.

  2. I’m all about meal planning. Even though I’m currently living at home, I’m still often cooking for myself so I’m thinking about what I may want that week, especially since my parents are meat eaters and I’m not. It’s funny though, my dad is the cook in the house and if he asks my mom what she wants, she really doesn’t care as long as she’s not doing the cooking. ;)

  3. This post was just what I needed getting married soon and having to learn to cook for just two people! Such a helpful post :) Luckily, my fiance isn’t picky at all. I am, but I will get to choose what we eat :) Of course I’ll throw in favorites for Aaron, but mostly I will try to come up with things we both like and can both enjoy :) I also have type A personality, so I LOVE the list making, and the menu on the wall!

  4. You are definitely not alone in the grocery planning! It’s one of my favorite things to do now. My hubby and I don’t always eat the same things for dinner, but we always try to have “family dinner time.” It’s probably my favorite time of the day!

  5. Lauren says:

    I love seeing what everyone makes and this post was GREAT! I’m finally becoming a little chef, I even winged my meal yesterday! I need to be more organized like you are though and branch out to try different recipes.

  6. Jenn says:

    I absolutely love meal planning and I have been doing it for over 1.5 years. I plan the meals for the week but I don’t assign specific meals to specific days – I just plan 5 meals for the week and eat them whenever we feel. I find that meal planning has cut grocery bills down by 30-40% and I am not wasting as much food from spoilage. As for my husband having a different taste than me, I’ll cook something pretty basic and add his favorite to it and my favorite to it – so 2 different meals but no extra work!!

  7. Taryn says:

    This is exactly what I do! And I just bought a whiteboard from the $1 spot at Target to write the meals on because I always forget what I had planned to eat throughout the week.

  8. I use a lot of the same tricks you do! Especially making a meal plan and then making the grocery list for the needed ingredients. I don’t even remember how I used to grocery shop without a list lol!

  9. I really never had any intention of being the traditional wife. But a few years ago I found that I actually enjoy cooking, so I do a lot more weekend cooking now to ensure we have meals all week. It’s pretty rare I do it during the week, which gives me HUGE respect for folks who make it happen daily!!

  10. I love this post! I also love that your starbucks accompanies you everywhere like mine does :)

  11. Uhm, you stuck to a list at Target?
    Please write a post about how you make THAT happen.

    • Emily says:

      Haha, only when I go for groceries do I stick to my list. Mainly because I don’t want my meat or milk to go bad :) .

  12. I’m really impressed that you do all that weekday cooking! I did a decent amount of weekday cooking when I was in college, but now that I work all day I have leftovers for dinner almost every night of the week. I’m very rarely ready to get rolling on dinner before 7 p.m., so to not even start cooking dinner until then is just a bit too crazy for me. I do like to cook on Fridays and Saturdays, though…gotta get my leftovers somehow! ;) I’m totally a meal planner, though, and I definitely have to write it down so I don’t forget what I was planning to make!

    • Emily says:

      When I wasn’t married, I ate leftovers all week too, but I guess now I feel more pressured to have dinner on the table!

  13. Maureen says:

    I am the cook in our family, so my family usually eats whatever creation I make! I’d much rather cook than clean dishes! ;-)

  14. It looks like you are very organized in your meal planning! I usually eat alone and dinners are normally yogurt or leftovers from the weekend. When I’m with my boyfriend on the weekends I think the hardest part about making meals is that he doesn’t care. It’s hard to come up with new creative ideas and not everyone would be happy with a sweet potato and nut butter or yogurt every night. I do love having lots of people over for meals though, I think its so much easier to cook for a large group.

  15. You have it together more than I do!

  16. I love grocery shopping too, and I also love meal planning. I always enjoy doing it…I’m not a make everything ahead of time kind of food prepper either. Cooking helps me relax a little each night (most nights anyway), so I look forward to that time after work to just have one thing to focus on – cooking!

  17. your handwriting is so gorgeous. I usually just make everything on sunday and pack it up since I cook for myself. I don’t mind eating the same three meals for the week.

  18. Alicia says:

    Great post! I recently came across Iowa Girl Eats blog too and LOVE IT!!

  19. Pingback: Favorites From the Week

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