One of the biggest challenges I often hear about is how to plan and meal prep recipes for a small family of 1-2 people. Well, I want to let you know it is possible! Today, I have some amazing meal prep ideas and meal plan solutions that’ll help you see it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
As you know, I think meal prep is one of the most important weight loss habits you can take on. And, you really can’t meal prep without planning first so learning how to meal plan is equally important.
So, I don’t want you to give up, or become overwhelmed because you’re not sure how to plan and prep with a small family.
I have a couple of meal prep ideas that’ll help you easily fit both of these habits into your lifestyle.
But first, I want to say this…
There’s no right or wrong way to meal plan or meal prep.
The purpose of putting together a meal plan is so you know what you’re eating during the week. This is your food road map which essentially makes you intentional with food.
Basically, a meal plan is the first step in helping you think before you eat – this habit alone will help you choose healthier foods and lose weight.
If you struggle to meal plan then I recommend subscribing to a meal planning service like eMeals or even a meal kit company such as Sun Basket – you can see my Sun Basket Review for my information and a coupon.
Can Meal Prep Really Help Me?
Now, the purpose of meal prep is to have all the delicious meals and snacks you planned out prepared ahead of time so you’ll actually eat it. We all know we’re more likely to eat healthy foods if the food is ready, right?
If I need to cook every single time I want to eat then, most likely, I’m grabbing something quick, processed, and not exactly “healthy”.
I do want you to keep this in mind…
Meal planning and meal prep doesn’t need to be complicated – and it shouldn’t be.
Not only will both help you eat healthier but it should also make your life less stressful. So, if you start to become overwhelmed with meal planning or the prep, then stop and take a step back. Make sure you’re not overcomplicating the process and then make adjustments to fit both into your lifestyle.
Remember there’s no right or wrong way. Do what works for you!
6 Super Smart Meal Prep Ideas For 1-2 People
With that said, here are some meal prep ideas and planning tips to help you feed your small family healthy delicious meals week after week.
1. You Don’t Need To Use Full Recipes.
I think a common mistake many people make when changing their lifestyle is that they think their meal plan needs to be filled with Pinterest-perfect recipes. This isn’t just people planning for 1-2 people – it’s everyone! I can see how this would be overwhelming, especially if you’re not used to cooking.
The good news is that I’m here to tell you that losing weight doesn’t require special recipes. However, if you want to use simple, healthy recipes then hold on tight because I’ll offer some meal prep ideas for that in a second.
First, I have a couple of solutions that don’t require recipes.
- You can use basic recipes for multiple meals. For example, you can prepare 1lb of taco meat to use in nachos earlier in the week and then mixed the leftovers into a chopped taco salad later in the week. You can also freeze half the taco meat for a meal later in the month.
- You can meal prep basic recipes to whip together simple healthy meals for 1-2 people. For example, if you make a batch of rice on Sunday, you can freeze some of it into portions and then keep the rest in the refrigerator for easy stir-frys during the week. Later on, grab a bag of frozen vegetables, a bag of portioned out shredded chicken you made the other week, and some jarred stir-fry sauce and you’re good to go.
Note: I’m totally not above convenience items to make these meals quick and simple. Check out some of my go-to favorites when it comes to using convenience items on meal prep day in this post!
My point is if you don’t want to make an actual recipe, then you don’t have to. Just write out the food you’re going to eat for the week and make sure to have those ingredients prepared ahead of time. It really is that simple.
2. Work With A Friend.
But what if you want a recipe that’s a whole meal in its self? Maybe you like chili, pasta bakes, soups, and things like that.
Well, I have a couple of solutions. Let’s start by working with a friend!
If you know someone who has the same meal planning and prep struggles as you then ask them to do a recipe swap of sorts. Meaning you both cook, or prepare ahead of time, 2-3 recipes (or whatever amount), divide the recipe in half or portions, and then swap half the recipes with each other. This will give you more variety with recipes 😉
Obviously, this takes a little more coordination but this could be a great solution if you want to make recipes that serve a lot of people but don’t want all those servings.
3. Divide Casseroles And Other Bakes Into 2 Smaller Dishes.
This is a great meal prep idea for those that want to make larger recipes like casseroles or bakes. It’s similar to what I just mentioned above. The difference is that you do the work yourself.
All you need to do is put the entire recipe together, then divide it into two pans, and freeze.
For example- if you’re making a 9 x 13 casserole, you would divide that recipe into 2 (8 x 8) pans. Personally, I use aluminum foil pans for this. They freeze great and can go right into the oven. Not to mention, they’re inexpensive!
Make sure to label the pans with the recipe and cooking instructions. Keep in mind, cooking instructions, most likely, will stay the same but you might need to adjust the cooking time.
Here are my favorite casseroles:
- Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- Broccoli and Chicken Pasta Bake
- Healthy Pizza Pasta Bake
- Cajun Chicken Quinoa Bake
- Overnight Breakfast Casserole With Sausage
4. Create Portion-Controlled Freezer Meals.
Another meal prep idea I use all the time with recipes is to prepare portion-controlled freezer meals. In this case, I would make the entire recipe ahead of time and then portion into single-serving meals.
Think of these as homemade lean cuisines. You can make as many recipes as you want ahead of time.
Here are some of my favorites:
Personally, I find these to be extremely helpful when I need a quick healthy dinner but want to keep portions and calories under control.
I like using these meal prep containers when preparing homemade lean cuisines.
5. Adjust The Servings Of A Recipe.
Another idea, if you want to follow a special recipe, is to adjust the recipe to fewer servings. Of course, you can do this on your own but if you belong to Plan to Eat, then this task is made much easier!
All you need to do is drag the recipe onto the menu planner. From there, you can adjust the servings. The servings will also reflect in the grocery list section so you only purchase the ingredients needed.
I was able to grab you all a 30-day Free Plan to Eat trial to see if it’s something that’d work for you. I personally loved it when I needed to make smaller servings.
6. Use Single-Serving Recipes.
When I first talked about this topic with readers, I realized that while I do have a family, I tend to plan and prep for myself a lot.
My weekly meal plans often include:
- Mason jar salads
- Snack kits
- Smoothie kits
- Single-portion breakfast meal prep ideas
The only time I plan for everyone is at dinner time. However, even with dinner, I still have basics prepped and ready to go along with portion-controlled meals in the refrigerator and freezer in case we need it.
So, while there are many recipes that feed 5+ people, there are also many single-serving recipes too!
These are some of my personal favorites for every meal of the day:
- Mason Jar Salads
- Turkey Club Wrap
- Grilled Cheeseburger Wrap
- Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad With Avocado
- Steak Salad In a Jar
- Fruit and Cheese Snack Box
- Protein Snack Box
- Strawberry Lemon Parfaits
- No-Bake Energy Balls
- Almond Butter And Banana Snack Wraps
- Turkey Taco Bowl
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
- Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Greek Shrimp Meal Prep Bowls
- Steak Sheet Pan Fajitas
You can also turn any of the dinner recipes I have on OYS into a homemade lean cuisine!
Bonus Tip: Subscribe To A Meal Planning Service That Offers Menus For 1-2 People.
I know I said I was giving you 6 meal prep ideas but I have one more I wanted to share.
Now, I know meal planning services aren’t for everyone but if you struggle to put together a meal plan for 1-2 people, then consider looking into a weekly meal planning service like Emeals.
Emeals offers weekly dinner meal plans in a variety of eating styles. Their most popular healthy lifestyle meal plans are Clean Eating, Paleo, Low-Carb, and 500 or less calories. You can also get a budget meal plan or a slow cooker meal plan! They have many more – you can view them all here.
Anyway, if you don’t know where to start with eating healthier, then using one of these meal plans could be a solution.
Each week, Emeals sends a meal plan directly to your inbox or you can access the meal plans on their app or website. To make eating healthy even easier, Emeals works alongside Instacart so you can get all your ingredients delivered to your door.
This meal planning service only costs $59 a year. That’s a little over $1 a menu! In my opinion, that’s very affordable.
If you think Emeals sounds like a good option, but not 100% sold on it, then give their 14-day free trial a try. I’ve been an Emeals member since 2012 and I’ve never regretted paying my yearly subscription.
Are You Ready To Try These Meal Prep Ideas?
Those are my planning solutions and meal prep ideas for 1-2 person households.
The last piece of advice I’ll give you is any little bit of planning and prep helps. Focus on the meal you struggle the most with and go from there. Before you know it, you’ll have routines in place that make weekly meal planning and prep seamless!