One might be the loneliest number, but two is pretty difficult too—at least when it comes to making dinner. Whether you’re wooing a significant other, sharing with a roommate, or catching up with your bestie, dinner for deux can mean endless leftovers and food fatigue.
Luckily these healthy recipes are perfectly portioned for two servings. That means if you live with someone, you're set, and if you live alone, you have both dinner and leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Stir-fries are a staple, but it's easy to fall into a rut with them. Mix things up with this recipe, which calls for marinating sirloin in a sweet, spicy soy sauce. Let that get happy while you're at work, then come home and cook the meat with some veggies and top over brown rice for a simple yet flavorful dinner.
Sure, you can go out to an expensive restaurant for a seafood-and-steak combo—but you can also make a fantastic one at home. This recipe pairs silky scallops with juicy filet mignon, though you can definitely comb through the sales flyer and opt for a lesser cut if it’s not a special occasion. For such a fancy-style dinner, you’ll be surprised how quickly it comes together. It's perfect for date night in or simply celebrating life.
Mashed potatoes, ground beef, and veggies, all cooked with Guinness beer? This is comfort food at its finest—and all in one neat pie. Luckily with this dish, comfort food doesn’t have to mean calorie bomb. Use lean ground beef and low-fat cheddar to slash even more calories and sneak in some extra vegetables if you feel like it.
If Salisbury steak makes you think of bad elementary school lunches, it’s time to make this. Bonus: It's baked in the oven in the same dish as the potatoes, so you can have a full dinner ready in just half an hour. Swap red potatoes for sweet potatoes for a boost in vitamins and potassium, and toss in sliced carrots for additional fiber.
Chicken and Turkey
Chicken marsala is one of those dishes that’s elegant, delicious, and so much simpler to make than you think. Using chicken thighs ensures you’ll have a juicy bird (no fear of dry chicken here). Plus, thighs have more iron than breasts. Combined with Marsala wine (best used for cooking, not drinking), mushrooms, and shallots, this is what you make to impress someone when you’re short on time. Serve over whole-wheat pasta or with a side salad and crusty bread; you’ll want it to soak up that sauce!
Get a homemade version of Chinese takeout in 20 minutes. This recipe’s gluten-free, full of flavor, and easy to customize—add in more vegetables like mushrooms or carrots, use thinly sliced beef instead of chicken, get wild! This chicken tastes great over spiralized zucchini noodles, but you could also serve over your favorite pasta or with rice instead.
There’s no need to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy turkey (though if you’re having a cozy, just-the-two-of-us holiday, this would be a great recipe to use). Instead of dealing with an entire bird, you’ll make turkey breasts in the Crock-Pot. But the real star of this meal is the potatoes, flavored with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, chili powder, chives, and Parmesan. You'll make them again as a side with other meats, trust us.
This super simple dinner comes together in just minutes with eight ingredients you probably already have on hand. Whether you’re using fresh or frozen broccoli, you’ll get a dose of vitamin C and fiber. And vegetarian eaters, this one would taste great with tofu instead of chicken, as the tofu will soak up all the saucy flavors.
Get your Mardi Gras (and Forrest Gump impression) on with this triple-threat gumbo—no beads necessary. The key to this dish is pre-toasting the flour, which lends a great bronze color. This is an awesome stew to pull together on weekends, since it’ll cook on the stove for a few hours but needs attention for just a few minutes at a time. It’s also a great way to introduce okra, a Southern staple, to your dinnertime repertoire. Serve with brown rice rather than white for whole-grain benefits.
This one's pretty as pie—and Paleo to boot! Instead of wheat flour, the crust is made of almond and coconut flours, ensuring a grain-free yet flaky crust. Dig in, and you're greeted by juicy pieces of chicken and soft bits of carrots, celery, and onion.
You do need a lot for this recipe—but you don't need a lot of time: It's ready in less than 30 minutes. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and abilities to ease sore muscles—plus its power to lure people up from the couch to the kitchen to find out what’s cooking. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. Black CD, Herring MP, Hurley DJ. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society, 2010, Apr.;11(9):1528-8447. Combined with vitamin A-packed spinach and, of course chicken, this is one healthy meal you’ll love eating.
If you’re an Italian sub fan, this main dish salad will hit the spot. With cannellini beans instead of bread for that hearty feeling, a vinegary homemade dressing (hint: Start making this dressing for your sandwiches too!), and additions like sun-dried tomatoes, this is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. And it's proof that salads are so much more than boring, pale lettuce.
Pretty much an upscale macaroni and cheese, “cacio e pepe” means cheese and pepper, but this version gets a welcome addition: bacon! And because it’s served on spiralized zucchini, it’s a light dinner. Use the highest quality ingredients you can since there aren't many in this recipe—i.e. this is the time to splurge on good bacon and cheese! And be sure to use freshly cracked pepper; the flavor can’t be beat.
Perk up pasta night with smoky chorizo, sweet red pepper, and fresh, cheesy pesto. Oh, and there's savory sage and peppery watercress too. So much flavor, yet this meal is ready in 10 minutes. Make it now!
The next time tuna steaks are on sale, get thee to the grocery store. Mixing up a batch of blackening seasoning at home and sprinkling it on the fish ensures you get a thick, spicy crust on your seafood. No grill? No problem. Make these in a pan on the stove, preferably cast-iron. Pair with your favorite veggies and a baked potato.
When you’re feeling fancy, get your hands on mussels, which can usually be purchased at the seafood counter of your local supermarket or at a fish shop. Garlicky blue mussels are cooked up alongside a creamy tomato sauce you’ll want to dip a fresh baguette into.
This might not be the most authentic Indian recipe, but when it’s this good, who cares? It’s loaded with carrots, kale, broccoli, and collard greens (finally, a recipe to use them in!), so you're getting your veggies. It also has some super tasty shrimp, thanks to the vindaloo seasoning.
Not only is the tilapia here perfectly seasoned with lime juice, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper, but it’s also topped with an awesome mango salsa. Stuff these into pan-toasted tortillas and serve with shredded cabbage and avocado slices for a seaside meal no matter the season.
This light dish is really a standout. Garlic and onions are first sautéed in olive oil, then simmered along with clams (canned are fine), lemon juice, lemon zest, and white wine. It’s all served with al dente pasta and Parmesan cheese for a five-star dinner that requires zero cooking skill. Make sure to use a good wine; you can drink what you don’t use cooking!
It’s amazing how such simple ingredients can make such a terrific meal. Get a helping of healthy fats with avocado, which produces a creamy pasta without the use of dairy. While that’s good enough on its own, a side of roasted beets with balsamic vinegar, lemon-garlic dressing, and walnuts is not to be missed.
A fun twist on “normal” lasagna, this version uses egg-free wonton wrappers in place of lasagna noodles and a homemade “ricotta” made from pine nuts that’s delicious in its own right. The longest part of this recipe involves making the cheese: Do that earlier in the day, and you can assemble and bake the lasagna at dinnertime in less than 30 minutes. Serve it to your meat-loving friends without telling them what it is for some extra fun!
Lentils are a great option for protein and fiber, but they can take a while to cook. That’s why this recipe is so smart; the whole shebang cooks in the Crock-Pot and needs no attention. When it’s ready, you have a hearty, healthy filling made with two types of lentils and quinoa to pack into taco shells. Serve with your favorite Tex-Mex fixings, like avocado slices, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro.
We’re all familiar with the lasagna problem: You get a craving for it, make a pan, and a week later, when you’re still eating lasagna leftovers, you vow to never prepare it again. That lasts for about six months until the cycle repeats. Now you can make a normal-sized lasagna! The trick is scaling down the ingredients so they fit into a loaf pan. The filling in this veggie version is delish, but you could add ground beef to it too.
When you’re too hungry to wait for delivery, turn to this dinner. Protein-packed quinoa is served alongside asparagus (sautéed to crispy perfection) and chickpeas. It’s uncomplicated but oh so good. Keep frozen spinach and a can of chickpeas on hand to make this one anytime.
Originally published February 2014. Updated January 2016.