Meal Planning for Two: A guide for smaller families

To me, a meal plan is key to keeping a household running, and keeping a iron grip on finances. A meal plan, whether it’s for a week, two weeks, or a month can keep food costs low and keep your family happy and healthy.

My family currently only consists of me and my (soon-to-be!) Husband. This smaller family can pose challenges when meal planning, it can result in eating the same things over and over. Since it’s well known that buying in bulk can save you money in the long run, it tends to benefit larger families (Jamerrill’s Large Family Table anyone? She’s amazing at budgeting and managing a household of 10!). With this in mind, I only buy what we need for the week (or two weeks, sometimes I batch cook), and some pantry essentials. Just in case we don’t want what’s planned in on that particular night.

meal plan title image

Where to Start

1) Check what you already have

Before starting to plan meals for the week, it’s essential to look in your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have in stock. It’d be pointless buying a couple of extra cans of tomatoes for a recipe you’ve planned in… Only to find 6 in the cupboard.

Checking stock also serves a purpose for planning meals based on what you have, and to keep track of essential items. Essential items for my family include tins of baked beans, eggs, lentils, and cans of kidney beans. This may be different for you, depending on what your family like to eat, and what you like to cook.

A meal plan based on what you already have saves money, and reduces food waste. For example, say you have some garlic, a broccoli, and some quinoa in. From these ingredients, you could make a hearty Broccoli Quinoa Casserole (this is one of my favourite versions, with the chicken changed to a meat substitute).

2) Keep a stock of essential items

Essential items can vary depending on the family. There are loads of articles and blog posts out there which list cooking essentials; such as oil, salt and pepper. However, it’s good to think about what your family eat on a weekly basis, and have a few pantry items to whip up if you don’t fancy what you have planned on the calendar. It also helps in case you have an unexpected visitor, or get late back from work one night. Our family’s pantry essentials are:

  • Baked Beans
  • Eggs
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils (dry and canned)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Salad tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Pasta

Over the years we’ve been living together, we’ve built up a store of regularly used dried herbs and spices too.

From the above list, you may be able to see that we can whip up a few meals without really thinking too hard. For example, a lentil chilli, or Baked potato with beans and salad. Just quick, no-fuss meals for when you’re tired or don’t want what you’ve planned. However, it’s important to try and incorporate each of these ingredients, particularly fresh, into your meal plan to reduce the amount of food waste. In the UK, households throw away £13bn of food a year . 

3) Think about what your family currently eat

If you go ahead with meal planning, think about what your family currently eat. If your family like to eat burgers on a Wednesday, keep that as burger Wednesday. If your family like having pizza takeout on Fridays, think about how you could incorporate this into your budget; you could try cooking pizzas from scratch, or keep a couple of pizzas in the freezer for lazy days.

If you want to try new recipes, you could have one day a week, or every two weeks where you try something new. If it works for you, great! if it doesn’t, then you don’t have to cook it again. Don’t try to meal plan 5 new meals in a week, take it slowly, building up a vault of recipes you know and love first.

4) Make your Meal Plan easy to see

It’s great having a meal plan, but even better if it’s somewhere everyone can see it! My friend bought me a meal planner/shopping planner list for my birthday. It’s great because it has magnets on the back, meaning it can be stuck to the fridge where everyone can see, and everyone can use.

Here’s a photo of it in pride of place:

meal plan fridge magnet

As you can see it’s a work in progress, but it’s in a place where it’s readable, accessible and regularly viewed.

5) Remember, Meal Plans aren’t set in stone

As we all know, life happens. Sometimes you might get home late from work. Other times you end up going out for a meal. When this happens, don’t fret! Either swap the day you went off plan, for example if you had pizza on Wednesday instead of Friday. Or, think of a way you could incorporate your extra ingredients into another meal. Meal planning should be a guide to helping you plan for enjoyable, low-cost healthy meals, rather than a strict regime.


Comment below how you plan your meals, and what go-to recipes do you use week-after-week!


Have a lovely day,


A blog about self-improvement: Introducing My Project Self

The change of a year often brings up thoughts of ‘How can I make a change this year?’. It’s also a time for reflection, with a view to self-improvement.

My Project Self was born out of a need for self-improvement; I’m using this blog as a way to share with the world my passion for improvement & progress. Whether that is improvement in a craft/skill (say, crochet; which I love), home improvements or in terms of striving towards a healthier and happier life.

As the saying goes, and I believe, that You’re never too old to learn something’. Also that working towards ‘progress’ rather than ‘perfection’ is better than not trying at all.

self-improvement blog

About Me

My name is Charis and I’m a twenty-something, pet parent with Big Hairy Audacious Goals; Living in Yorkshire.

I’m currently planning & saving for my wedding in May (to my Big Hairy Audacious Man).

Also I’m Learning a language, teaching myself to code, mentally redecorating my home… the list continues.

Watch this space for a post about my New Years Resolutions, I’ve already written one about my goals for this blog here ; grab a warm beverage & maybe a few biscuits for that one, it could be a biggie!

I love self-improvement, I think it’s a really great practice. Self-improvement can help you find your hobby, find your passions or help you find what you’re good at when you’re feeling a little lost or overwhelmed (we’ve all been there!).

I hope you’ll enjoy my updates on learning to live a happier, healthier life and the little and large projects I’ll be sharing. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions, or if you have some hints and tips to share!

Check in with you soon,

Have a lovely day!