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?
0 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping for One”
Great tips, P! Grocery shopping in Mumbai is a completely different experience than London/US but when I was living in London, I used to be a serious list-maker! As the week went on, I would just write down what needed to be topped up and that way I’d manage to get everything needed! Also fortunately there were quite a few supermarkets near my place (mini ones) so I’d buy produce and milk as and when I needed it as opposed to all on one day.
And another tip: make use of that freezer! If you feel something is going off (even a banana), chuck it in the freezer…it’s a goldmine in terms of preserving food!
You’re so lucky…the produce in India is so fresh! Things I’d never eat here, I always fall in love with when I visit.
And you’re absolutely right, the freezer is a great tool that a lot of people don’t think about. I need to make use of mine a little bit more.
I absolutely LOVE to grocery shop. My biggest money-saver is going to the farmer’s market rather than Whole Paycheck. I also keep a spreadsheet with the meals I’m going to make for the week. It doesn’t wonders for keeping me on track and eliminating waste. And don’t forget you can freeze just about anything for use later in smoothies!
When I lived in Tucson, the Farmer’s Market was my favorite place to go on Sunday mornings. You’re right, it’s so much cheaper. AND there’s so much more variety.
I subscribe to the Sunday paper now and love it! I get all the ads on Saturday and sip my coffee and plan my Sunday grocery strategy based on what I need and the coupons i have and the different store sales. I never planned until now and its definitely helped me not waste food and save money!
We’re a lot alike! Except, I usually workout on Sunday mornings, pick up the paper on my way home, and go through it while eating a snack. As sad as it may sound to others, it’s become my favorite weekend ritual!
Yes, yes, yes to all of your tips! I buy most of my produce at Costco – but only the stuff that will be used up. I never buy onions, garlic, or anything that will end up going to waste. And if something is nearing its expiration date, I always freeze it. Works pretty well. That said, frozen vegetables are definitely a staple as well. I really need to start looking for coupons in the Sunday paper though! That’s my one problem – I don’t utilize coupons as much as I should!
Costco is actually a great place to get produce. The last time I went, I picked up some blueberries (that were gone in a week) and a bunch of bananas for way less than what they would’ve cost me at a regular grocery store.
Great post! I especially agree on the only getting enough produce that you will actually use, then buy more if necessary. That is a big one I have to do because it felt like stuff was going bad before I used it all the time.
So true, Tina. I used to stock up because I didn’t want to make the trips to store on my way home from work. But when I saw how much waste that was often creating, I stopped. Now I just buy what I know I’ll eat.
As a single lady, I always shop for one…this means learning a lot of the lessons you describe above, especially knowing how much I can really eat in a week and not going crazy at Costco! [I do have a tendency to stock up and overbuy things like cereal or frozen veggies when they are on sale…good thing they last forever, right? :)]
You’re right, some things are worth buying at Costco. For example, I bought a 10 lb case of Quaker oats, and I know I’ll have no trouble getting through them before the expiration date hits. 🙂
Nice. I do like Grocery Shopping, and I usually use a post-it to make my list. haha. One time it was so windy in NYC, I put my hands in my pocket and took them out, and my poor post-it flew away. I was sooooooooooo livid. lol. I love coupons, i don’t buy the sunday paper, but I should. I go veggie shopping to my local farmer’s market, I find the prices to be cheaper. For stuff like peanut butter and all, I go to a regular grocery store, sometimes wholefoods since they carry the healthier brands. 🙂
You have an exciting 3 weeks coming.
I know! I’m pretty excited! And I love going to WFs too. I try not to spend more than $20-30 though because it’s easy to get carried away in there!
Nice one! We usually do a big shop once a week typically on the weekends and then maybe a small one in the middle of the week (dog food, any meat/fish we’re planning to eat so it’s more fresh).
We have a loose meal plan – it’s pretty flexible in case we can’t be bothered cooking for example but it def helps 🙂
I think mine and Vishnu’s meal plan will be flexible as well. I know there will be nights where I don’t want to cook or he doesn’t want to eat what I have planned. That’s what marriage is all about though, right!? Flexibility!