When you're shopping for one, it can be very easy to overbuy and ending up with more than you can consume. And you certainly don't want to go to the other extreme, where you don't buy enough and end up going back to the supermarket the very next day.
Here are some tips to help you save money when you're grocery shopping for one:
Check out the salad bar. It might even be cheaper for you to do your fresh produce shopping at the salad bar. You can get what you want in smaller portions, which means you are more likely to use what you bought before it goes bad. Of course, some of the markups may be really high, so do some calculations to see if the savings are worth it.
Watch what you buy in bulk. As a solo shopper, you don't really need to buy too many things in bulk, which can result in unused items that go to waste. You definitely need to stay away from this list of items you shouldn't buy in bulk.
Plan your meals. Make sure you're properly planning your meals ahead of time so you're not stuck eating the same soup for days on end. This is good for your wallet, because it will help make eating out less tempting.
Make the most of what you have. Take stock of your pantry and fridge to see what you have and if you can come up with meal ideas for grocery items you've already purchased. If you're looking for recipes, just Google "What to do with leftover [insert food]," and you'll find plenty of ideas.
And if the foods are approaching their expiration date or are starting to lose their luster, then make it a priority to cook them before using your new groceries. For example, make a stir-fry out of the old produce, or make baked goods from the really ripe fruits, such as banana bread out of old bananas.
Read on for more tips.
Avoid precut produce. Bagged salads and precut fruits certainly will save you a few minutes since there isn't any preparation time, but they also tend to spoil faster. Reach for whole, fresh produce at the grocery store to ensure that your veggies and fruits will last longer.
Stick to your list. Making a note of what to buy and actually sticking to the items you need is especially important for the single grocery shopper, because you're more likely to waste food if you overbuy.
Get an Ethylene Gas Guardian. The E.G.G., or Ethylene Gas Guardian ($25), is a product that will absorb ethylene, which is emitted by most fruits and veggies. Some types of produce that are sensitive to this ripening agent will spoil more quickly when exposed to this gas. A solution is to separate the items (there is a nice list of ethylene-sensitive foods on Real Simple's website), and you can also choose to use the E.G.G. and put it in your produce drawer.
Be smart when buying organic. Even if you're a fan of organic foods, you might want to be smart when you're buying organic. For example, think about how long you take to eat a certain kind of food; organic foods spoil faster. If you find yourself constantly throwing away grocery items like eggs and milk, then make a note of which ones, and go for the normal kind the next time you're at the supermarket.
Use your freezer. The freezer will be your best friend when you're a solo dweller. Whatever you can't finish, divide it into single-serve portions, and freeze it to reheat for later meals. This will help mix your meals up so that you don't have to keep eating the same leftovers.