Monday is here again. I’m not complaining though. In less than a week, my special visitor will be here. Ok fine, it’s Vishnu…you got me! In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Austin, TX for my friend Purvi’s bachelorette party. And in less than three weeks, I’ll be back home in Atlanta doing some wedding prep stuff.
As part of my Sunday routine, I headed to the grocery store to pick up some staples for the week. As I was making my way up and down the aisles, I started thinking about my grocery shopping strategy. I mean, I’ve lived on my own for a while now and have gotten pretty used to buying and cooking for one. And if I do say so myself, I’m also pretty good at not wasting food (for the most part). So if you’re anything like me, you probably take a little bit of time every week to come up with your shopping “strategy” – a money, time, and food saving plan.
When I sat down to think about my process and the things I do to prepare for grocery shopping for one every week, I came up with the following list. I hope you find at least one of my tips helpful, even if you shop for more than just one!
- Make a list – not only of food items that need to be replenished but also of weekly meals. I find that when I keep both lists in the same place, I save lots of time and don’t go crazy. Using a word template, I created weekly worksheets for myself to jot down notes about meals, workouts, things to do, etc. I used to use a planner, but over time I realized that it overwhelmed me. I like weekly sheets because they help me focus on the week and days ahead.
Excuse the nasty handwriting.
Going along with the first tip, make sure to meal plan. And the process doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. For example, using the worksheet above, I write down what I’m going to eat every day of the week. And if that meal requires some ingredients I may not currently have, I put them on my grocery list that is conveniently located on the same piece of paper. That’s it…easy peasy!
Always purchase the Sunday paper – it’s filled with coupons. Exciting stuff! I just started doing this myself a month or so ago. And you may be thinking that it’s not worth it for just one person, but trust me the savings add up. And 99% of the time you’ll be able to recoup the $1 cost of the paper with at least $4 worth of savings in coupons.
Side story – when I was growing up, Sunday morning was the best because we’d all pick our favorites and go at it. My dad would clip coupons, my mom would peruse the store sales, and I would carefully read the entire comics section. Now I do all of the above by myself, but it’s still fun. There’s nothing better than finding awesome deals for your favorite food and non-food items. For example, today I saved $.55 on my almond milk and found a $2.00 off coupon for my favorite moisturizer. Happy day!
My coupon stash + handy dandy coupon holder
When it comes to produce, buy what you need and/or will actually eat that week. Maybe this only applies to me, but I used to buy like 3 apples, 5 bananas, 2 pears, strawberries, and maybe even a few oranges, only to get through maybe 3/4 of my fruit supply. This behavior created waste. So now, I’ll buy 2 apples, 1 pear, 3 bananas, and maybe some strawberries. Worse comes to worse, if I run out, I can just swing by the store and pick up more of what I need. See, no waste!
Don’t buy everything in bulk. Again this may be just me, but I used to go crazy at Costco. I would buy fruit, cheeses, condiments, grains, bread, etc. thinking I was saving money. Well, no money was saved and food was wasted. Not my proudest moment.
Now, I only go to Costco to purchase the things I know (with 100% certainty) will be used up before the expiration date. I’m mainly talking about things like berries, almond milk, cereal, grains, some canned foods, etc.
Frozen fruits and veggies are your best friend. They don’t spoil, are just as healthy if not more so than fresh produce, and don’t require any prep time. Just this week, I made a delicious and easy stir-fry with some frozen vegetables in under 20 minutes. Again, easy peasy!
- Don’t discount places like Walgreens, CVS, and Target. These stores can be huge money savers when you take the time to plan and go through the circulars to see what’s on sale. For example, a few weeks ago, Walgreens had pistachios on sale for $4 with an in store coupon. That same exact product was $6.50 at Publix. That’s a savings of $2.50!
There are probably tons of other things I’m forgetting or not doing when it comes to my grocery shopping habits, but I find the above list to be pretty helpful for saving money, time, and food. And really, who doesn’t want to have a few extra bucks in her wallet, minutes in her day, and a guilt free conscience because everything was used up and not thrown away?
Do you like to grocery shop? What are some of your favorite tips?