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Save on Groceries When Living Alone

Updated on August 23, 2010

 If you're anything like me, going grocery shopping when you live by yourself could sometimes feel like you're throwing money away. Let's face it, most foods and products found in grocery stores aren't packaged to be very friendly to the person that's living solo. More often than not, I have found that food I purchase ends up spoiling or going stale before I even getting around to making it. Cooking good meals for one person can be a tricky thing. Portions found in supermarkets usually leave me making a large meal, which then forces me to eat those leftovers for the next 3 or 4 meals! Use these tips to help you get the most for your dollar when shopping for yourself.

  • The freezer and Ziploc bags are your friends. Now, I don't know why it took me so long to realize this. I used to find myself cooking a pound of chicken at a time, and throwing the leftovers away a few days later. It felt like throwing money right into the trash! Now, as soon as I get home from the grocery store, I put individual size portions of meat and even vegetables into Ziploc bags, and freeze them. They stay fresh a lot longer, and all I have to do is pull the bags I want when I'm ready to cook them. Or, you can often find chicken and other meats individually portioned at grocery stores, but be prepared to shell out a few extra bucks.
  • Long-lasting foods. There are some foods out there that are very friendly to the person living alone...meaning they have a long shelf life. Try to incorporate these into your cooking to save some extra cash. Potatoes, eggs, lemons, and garlic just to name a few. And don't forget about the basics like canned tuna, soups, dry noodles, peanut butter, rice and nuts.
  • Make a list. You've heard it a million times. Or maybe you've already made a million lists like me, but just don't follow it for some reason. Plan a menu ahead of time and have a list ready so you can go in and out of the supermarket getting only what you need. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've ended up with an outrageous grocery bill when I only ran in for a few things. These "impulse buys" certainly add up over time.
  • Set a shopping date. Pick a day of the week when you can go grocery shopping every week. Create that list and this will eliminate the random stops throughout the week that can leave your wallet empty. I know it can be hard since you have other bills to pay and you may not always have that extra money laying around to spend at once...but try it out and you will save money.
  • Discount stores. You ever wonder what happens to all those dented cans and somewhat crushed boxes? There are a lot more discount stores out there than you may be aware of. The stores themselves are usually smaller in size and ran locally. The products are exactly the same and are in no way different. So maybe the can has a dent, but you could save more than 50% of the regular price. Check out stores like these before you make that big trip the grocery store.
  • Go local. I absolutely love my local farmer's market. The produce is extremely fresh since it comes straight from the different farms...and better yet, it's extremely cheap! Granted, most are only during the summer months, but there are farmer's markets open all year around in some areas. I always head to my farmer's market before the store for my fruit, vegetables and even meat in some cases. You won't believe how much money I save!! Plus, you'll be supporting your local farmers.
  • If all else fails... you can always invite friends over for dinner. If you didn't freeze your foods in smaller portions or have to cook those veggies because they're on the brink of your trash can, invite friends over for a meal. Grab a bottle of wine and make a night of it!

 I know how difficult and costly it can be to live alone, while trying to avoid eating frozen dinners all the time. I hope these tips help you save time and money, in addition to throwing your hard-earned money away.


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