Cooking for Two: 34 Cheap and Healthy Meals for You and Yours

Valentine’s Day or not, cooking for two can be a tricky skill to master. While leftovers are practical, eating Crock Pot chili five nights in a row can get pretty old. These recipes—from breakfast and starters to dinner and dessert—are perfect to enjoy with your girlfriend, boyfriend, mom, dad, friend, or dog (… if your dog eats human food). Each meal is perfectly portioned for two, so grab a sous chef and get cooking!


1. Crab, Asparagus, and Avocado Omelet This omelet kills it with the presentation. It’s stuffed with fresh lump crabmeat, asparagus, and tomato, then topped with avocado slices and an ample amount of hot sauce. It’s so good, you won’t even miss the cheese. If you don’t have fresh crab on hand (or you’re allergic to shellfish), try smoked salmon instead.

2. Coconut Milk Scones With Rhubarb Compote Decadent and sweet, this breakfast recipe is healthier than traditional scones and easily customizable for any palate. The vegan dough subs creamy coconut milk for butter and lemon zest infuses each bite. A homemade maple-rhubarb compote takes just minutes to make, but any jam or fresh fruit would pair well.

3.Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame A Parisian staple, the Croque Monsier is basically a fancier, French version of grilled cheese, made with with Gruyere cheese, ham, and creamy béchamel sauce. When the sandwich is served with a poached egg on top, it’s called a Croque Madame. This recipe makes for a lighter final product, thanks to skim milk and half and half-based béchamel sauce. 

Photo: Minimalist Baker

4. Minimalist Banana-Nut Muffins Both hearty and healthy, this recipe produces two monster-sized vegan muffins made with wholesome ingredients. These babies get bonus nutrition points for the whole-wheat pastry flour, ground flaxseed, omega-3 rich walnuts, and half a banana in each muffin.

5.Rustic Cinnamon Rolls Ditch the Pillsbury can and opt for DIY cinnamon rolls for two with a way healthier Greek yogurt icing. Crunchy outside and doughy inside, these honeyed breakfast treats taste like the sinful version but focus more on the cinnamon flavor than 12 sticks of butter or powdered sugar-based frosting.

6.Asparagus Egg Bake This recipe is perfect for when you’ve only got a few eggs on hand but could really go for something more than just scrambled or over easy. While just about any veggies would work, this bake sticks to asparagus and chives. Pair with whole-wheat English muffins to add a healthy dose of fiber to the meal.

7.Whole-Wheat Blueberry Muffins Made with filling whole-wheat flour, these muffins will tide you over until lunchtime. Fresh or frozen blueberries—known for high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanins—keep the muffins moist.

8.Veggie Tofu Scramble With nearly 25 grams of protein per portion and nearly every veggie you’ve got hiding in the fridge, this scramble is a nutrition rock star. Though tofu may not be your cup of tea, cooking the budget-friendly protein source just like scrambled eggs is a great way to mask the funky texture while adding tons of flavor. Scramble it up with peppers, kale, and onions, top with avocado, and you’ve got yourself a lean, mean breakfast.

9.Egg in a Heart Simple and satisfying, this two-ingredient breakfast requires a couple of eggs, some whole-wheat bread, and a little creativity. Use a heart cookie cutter (or any other shape) to remove the middle of each slice, and then crack an egg in the opening. Leave it as is or top with avocado and tomato slices.


Photo: Pinch and Swirl

10.Salad Lyonnais Nothing warms up a boring old salad like a fried egg and bacon. Top frisee (or any other salad green) with bacon strips, Dijon mustard, chives, a little salt and pepper, and an egg for a satisfying way to start your meal.

11. Ratatouille for Two Since ratatouille gained popularity after the 2007 Pixar movie of the same name, roasted veggies have never looked so good. This version layers thinly sliced vegetables—zucchini, squash, and eggplant—in a beautiful spiral design. To season, stick to the basics with dried herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

12.Barbecue Portobello Quesadillas Smoky and sweet, these whole-wheat quesadillas have a lot more going for them than simply layering cheese between tortillas. A combination of barbecue sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, and chipotle chili pepper season cooked mushrooms and onion, while a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese holds it all together.

13.Pan-Seared Thai Tuna Salad Prepare your taste buds, ‘cus it’s about to get spicy. This salad combines an Asian-inspired slaw of cucumber, cabbage, and carrots with pan-seared tuna. Fresh orange slices balance out the spiciness from Sriracha hot sauce.

14.Chicken Club Quesadillas With all the flavors of the classic club sandwich, these quesadillas have it going on with bacon, grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream in each bite. For healthier ‘dillas, choose whole-wheat tortillas and Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.

15.Taco Salad With Creamy Cilantro Dressing This hearty salad easily qualifies as a main course. Both quinoa and beans provide protein, while avocado supplies healthy monounsaturated fat to help keep you fuller than most veggie-based salads.

16.Mini Caprese Salads Served with a pesto-y dressing, this mini salad for two is actually made up of mini ingredients. That’s right: mini cherry tomatoes, tiny mozzarella balls, and itty-bitty basil leaves make for maximum cuteness.


Photo: Oh My Veggies

17.Peanutty Quinoa Bowls Topped with savory soy and maple baked tofu, these quinoa bowls get double the protein. A homemade peanut sauce goes on top with steamed broccoli, red pepper, chopped roasted peanuts, and freshly grated ginger.

18.Sage-Brined Pork Chops With Brown Sugar Glaze Thanks to a sage-infused brine and a sweet brown sugar glaze, these pork chops lock in juiciness and pack some serious flavor. Plan ahead on this one—you’ll need a few hours to let the pork brine (or marinate in a salt water solution to keep meat from drying out) in the refrigerator.

19.Whiskey-Glazed Salmon With Mango Habanero Chutney With multiple uses for a bottle of Jack Daniels—from treating the symptoms of a head cold to brushing one’s teeth—it just feels right to marinate salmon for a sweet and smoky glaze. Top the meal with an easy mango habanero chutney.

20.Super Simple Lemon-Rosemary Chicken With just six ingredients (five of which you likely have in the pantry already) this easy date night dish is a cinch. Skip the skins if you’d like to tone down both calorie and sodium intake.

21.Sautéed Beef With Onions Over Creamy Polenta This quick, homey meal is perfect for when it’s chilly out. Lemon- and garlic-marinated strips of beef and red onion compliment polenta—or cornmeal cooked into a comforting, porridge-like consistency.

22.Seared Shrimp Vindaloo With Vegetables With carrots, broccoli, onions, garlic, wilted kale, and collard greens, this dinner blends just about every veggie from the produce drawer. Shrimp and vindaloo seasoning—a mix of turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and other spices—finish off the meal.

23.Chicken Caprese While we’ve got a Caprese salad on this list, this is a much more substantial version with baked chicken as the base. Thick slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, and chopped basil make for a light, Italian-inspired meal. 

Photo: Sweet Lavendar

24.Baked Acorn Squash With Quiche Filling This effortless recipe takes just minutes to prepare—whip up eggs, milk, tomatoes, cheese, and chives and pour it into seeded acorn squash halves before tossing in the oven to bake.

25.Broccoli, Brie, and Walnut Rotini This rich dish combines walnuts, broccoli, and creamy brie cheese. It can be customized with whatever nuts or veggies you prefer. With only five ingredients and a combined prep and cook time of just 15 minutes, this meal is as uncomplicated as it gets.

26.Mediterranean Stuffed Red Peppers While traditional stuffed peppers have a ground meat filling, this version uses the super grain bulgur (which has more fiber per cup than quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat, and corn). Feta, mint, pine nuts, and fennel bring Mediterranean flavors to the dish.


27.Cardamom Almond Pear Crisps A couple of ramekins, a couple of pears, and you’ve got yourselves two perfectly portioned desserts. These crisps are vegan, flourless, low in sugar, and gluten-free. The oat– and almond-based topping is nutty and sweet with just a touch of maple syrup.

28.Healthier Individual Carrot Cakes Grain-free and nut-free, these cute cakes are made of two unconventional but healthy flours: chickpea andsunflower. To achieve the classic carrot cake flavor profile, the recipe includes carrots, raisins, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. The sweet but tangy frosting is made up of goat cheese and maple syrup.

Photo: Dessert For Two

29. “Fried” Ice Cream So the “fried” part of this dessert is a bit of a fib. While this ice cream has all the traditional ingredients necessary for the fried version, there’s no giant vat of hot oil (or messy melting for that matter). Just scoop your favorite flavor into balls then coat them in the Corn Flake crumb mixture. Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce and you’ve got yourself an easy, decadent, and slightly healthier way to end a meal.

30.Vanilla Cupcakes With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting These cupcakes are just 160 calories a pop. Do you really need more convincing? With unsweetened applesauce in the batter and a lightened lemon cream cheese frosting, there’s no lack of flavor. Top with a few fresh blueberries or blackberries and you’ve got the perfect package.

31.Espresso Brownies For those times you’d rather not whip up a full batch of brownies, this recipe makes just two in record time. A teaspoon of espresso powder adds an element of surprise and intensifies the chocolatey flavor.

32.Mediterranean Mango Parfait Sweet and flavorful, without added sugar, this guilt-less dessert is as refreshing as it is tasty. Layer chunks of mango, pistachios, and Greek yogurt, then top with pomegranate seeds (in the shape of a heart if you’re feeling extra lovey dovey).

33.Rhubarb Crisps These two individually portioned desserts combine roasted rhubarb with orange zest and rose water and a slightly crunchy, oaty topping. The crisps can easily be made gluten-free by opting for oat flour or almond flour instead of all-purpose.

34.Chocolate Soup for Two Definitely not your mama’s chicken noodle, this soup is rich and chocolate-y. Fat-free half-and-half and fat-free condensed milk help make the dark chocolate dessert velvety without completely bombing a day’s worth of healthy eating.

Originally published February 2014. Updated February 2015.

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