Extending Food Life

Cheap Dinners for 2

Publish Date August 14, 2023 5 Minute Read

Cheap and Easy Meals for 2

Don’t let rising costs take the romance out of your date night. We’ve complied our best tips and tricks for simple, affordable meals. A night in and a homemade, cheap dinner for 2 can be easy, entertaining and delicious. By utilizing pantry staples where possible and choosing ingredients that work for multiple dishes, you can learn to make amazing meals without breaking the bank. Great food doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag, and creating easy, affordable meals for 2 doesn’t have to feel like a compromise.

Using Pantry Staples

For cheap dinner ideas, look no further than your pantry. Learning how to make the most of your pantry staples is one of the best ways to increase your repertoire of affordable recipes. Pantry staples are often shelf stable, meaning they can last much longer than other ingredients and they can easily be used as a starting point for meals.

  • Dry ingredients like pasta can be used as the base for an easy dinner. Just add produce and a protein for a complete meal.
  • Broths and stocks are also considered staples and can be used to make soups and stews that are perfect for a cozy night in.
  • Canned vegetables can either give your produce game more of a shelf life, or items like canned tomatoes can be turned into a homemade sauce for pasta night.
  • Beans are some of the most versatile staples out there. They can function as a protein in chili or a stew, they can stand alone in a savory sauce, and in a pinch you can use them to make a sauce creamy and thick.
  • Rice is a pantry staple superhero. It’s used in so many different cuisines, you’re bound to find a fun, new dish to pair with it, like this sweet and sour portabello recipe.

Using pantry staples is also a great way to start shopping at home before you go to the store. Check your freezer and pantry for things you already have and build a list from there. Have pasta and some frozen veggies? Maybe you only need to pick up sauce to have a fantastic cheap dinner for 2.

Faster and Healthier Than Takeout

Eating out can be pricey, and sometimes it’s not very heathy. Even with the best of intentions, getting food from a restaurant comes with the potential of hidden ingredients. You just can’t account for everything you get when you dine out. Plus, it’s harder to control portion sizes when that giant bowl of pasta is sitting right in front of you. Here are some of our favorite ways to make sure that meals you’re making at home are budget-friendly and better for you. In the time it would take you to pick up takeout, you can make a full meal for 2 at home.

• Use shortcuts like jarred sauces, rotisserie chickens and frozen veggies to make quick and easy meals.

• You can use tools like slow cookers and Instant Pots to make dinner even faster. Try this recipe for a chicken and sweet potato red curry made in an Instant Pot.

• Challenging yourself to recreate your favorite takeout meals is another budget friendly option. Skip the delivery fee and search for affordable recipes that mirror your favorites.

Date Night on a Dime

Turn your budget into a fun challenge by finding new and interesting ways to make amazing date night meals for as little as possible.

  • Challenge each other to a TV-style cook off to create a meal using only the ingredients you have on hand.
  • Repurpose leftovers to create new cheap dinner ideas. Roasted chicken breast can become quesadillas or the protein in a pasta. The rice you made earlier in the week will work perfectly as fried rice for 2. Ground meat can become burgers, bolognese or enchiladas.
  • Double your dinners by buying versatile ingredients that can become multiple meals. For example, this taco tortellini recipe uses premade tortellini and ground beef. Both ingredients could be used in other recipes as well.

With a little planning and imagination, you can create cheap and easy dinners for 2 that will delight your tastebuds and leave your wallet satisfied, too. For more tips, tricks and recipes, visit our blog.