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.
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.
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?