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How to Shop for One

Updated on May 10, 2015

My crimes against produce

I enjoy cooking; yet, as a single person, have struggled to grocery shop without having an extraordinary amount of food waste. I would buy beautiful crisp lettuce or a bunch of carrots only to have them go bad before I could eat them all. Below are some tactics I have come up with over the years which have allowed me to prepare fresh home-cooked meals and avoid seeing half my groceries go into the trash.

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Tip #1 Shop the bulk bins

Bulk bins can be a bonanza for the solo shopper. This is especially true when shopping for staples. Shopping bulk allows you to get just the amount of flour, rice, beans, etc. that you need. Plus you can purchase most bulk items in reusable containers which reduces package waste.

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Tip #2 Don't be afraid of the family pack

Go ahead and buy that family size package of chicken, pork chops, etc., especially when on sale. You can freeze into individual portions. You get the benefit of savings and the advantage of single serve portions.

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Tip #3 Check out local farmer’s markets

A good farmer’s market is like Disneyland to me. I can spend all day browsing the beautiful stalls. It is another gold mine for the solo shopper. You can usually buy the quantity you want and you get the advantage of meeting the farmer who grew your food.

Tip #4 Plan meals strategically

Some ingredients are hard to buy in smaller quantities. That is where strategic planning comes into play. Try to use one ingredient in multiple recipes. For example, use one eggplant to make eggplant parm and ratatouille.

Tip #5 Go in with other singles

You can create your own shopping club with other single friends. You can share the cost and divide the items into equal shares.

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Tip #6 Check out the salad and olive bars

If your grocery store has a salad or olive bar count yourself lucky. You can get a handful of gourmet olives or a couple of roasted peppers without having to shell out big bucks for a full jar which you may not use.

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Tip #7 Look for produce snack packs

Precut produce and snack packs are usually more expensive; however, it can actually provide a cost savings for a solo shopper. I will buy snack packs for things like celery that I may need for a recipe but won’t use fast enough to warrant a full stalk.

Tip #8 Use ice trays for more than just ice

You can freeze extra stock and sauces in ice trays. The next time you make soup you can pop out a couple of cubes and you’re ready to go!

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Tip #9 The freezer can be your friend

Don’t forget to freeze that extra bread, hamburger or hot dog buns. Prep and freeze fresh produce. Look for dishes like casseroles and soups that freeze well. You will never be far from a home-cooked dinner.

Tip #10 Look for local butcher shops and bakeries

Local bakeries and butcher shops are a great resource if you have one in your community. You help the local economy, get quality ingredients, and you can usually buy in smaller quantities.

Let me know your favorite tips

I am always on the lookout for more money-saving, time-saving tips for the kitchen. Let me know if you have a favorite.


© 2015 Vicki Holder

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