1. Grocery shop once - I dedicate an hour or more every Sunday to grocery shopping. I personally enjoy the alone time thinking about food, but to cut the time at the market down, write a list, follow that list, and shop at a store that you know how to navigate. When I started grocery shopping in Boise and didn't know my way around a store, I would wander through every aisle, picking up all sorts of random things along the way. Not great for the budget!
2. Plan ahead - About that grocery list...sit down on Sunday before you hit the store and plan two or three home cooked meals that you'd like to make that week. I usually peruse a cookbook, EatingWell, or Pinterest, or Google something I've been wanting to try. Once you have your meals picked out, look through the pantry and fridge to see what you already have. Add to your list what you still need, and get to shopping!
3. Cook for a family - Does the idea of making a new meal every night for a week scare you? I understand, which is why I rarely make fewer than four portions of a meal. If the recipe you're trying sounds delicious, I can promise that it will taste just as good the next day. Plus, you'll only have to set aside time to cook every other night, and you won't have to worry about what to do when the only chicken available is a package of four breasts.
4. Have a back-up plan - There are those weeks that are so insanely busy that the last thing on your mind is dinner. You might not have planned ahead, gone grocery shopping, or have a single creative thought left, which is why we should all have tried and true recipes in our back pockets. These recipes should use ingredients you always have (rice, frozen veggies and chicken, canned goods) for something quick and easy. Our go-to meals? Chicken and brown rice, tomato soup with white beans, or huevos rancheros.
5. Treat yourself - After your week of cooking, doesn't not slaving away in the kitchen sound amazing? We usually "eat out" two nights a week, one night of takeout and one night at a restaurant. This allows for a date night and a night of not having to think about cooking - usually when we've got late work stuff going on.
Most of all, relax and enjoy it. Cook with your guy, for friends, or make treats just for you. Every meal won't turn out the way you imagined, but over time, you'll become your own version of an expert. I get so excited when I make something truly delectable, and having someone to share it with makes it that much better. Dinner for two? You're pretty great.