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Grocery Shopping Tips for the Person Cooking for One


When you go grocery shopping do things magically fill up your cart even though you're only in aisle 3?

Do you hesitate to buy a food item because you have a hunch it will spoil before you eat it all?

Does everything seem to be in huge "family-sized" packages that neglect single-person homes?

Is it fair that smaller-sized portions are more expensive?

If any of these ring a familiar tone with you, the grocery store has done its job; you bought more than you need. For the person cooking for one, this can mean a lot of food and money wasters. When you are cooking for one person, you need to shop differently. Here are tips to keep your food in your fridge and more cash in your pocket.

Value packs Aren't Always a Value

A 5-pound can of peanuts? Are you really going to consume this quantity in a reasonable amount of time? Many times individuals get caught up in bargain grocery shopping and not realize they can stretch their food dollars to pamper themselves with more variety.

Freezing huge "family packs" of meats has been touted as cost-effective. Unless you have a highly organized, extra-large freezer, you will have lots of the same frosted bags of identical meat which you may grow tired of. Most humans who are cooking for one person relish variety. Keep in mind even frozen meat has an expiration date.

The Perimeter Myth

This myth has circulated as food shopping advice for some time and with good intentions. The problem is, it is not really good advice. The idea behind tactic is that if you shop along the perimeter, the outer edge, of the store you will avoid the unhealthy, overly packaged, processed food. This is partially true. 

The center aisles contain dry/canned food items. Healthy options such as a can of beans, a box of tea, extra virgin olive oil, and a container of oatmeal all are typically found in the center aisles. Most items in these center aisles have a good shelf life which are important to a person cooking for one.

There also lurks overly-processed and artificial food products in these aisles and along the perimeter of the store. Only go down the center aisles that contain the items you need. Before you round the corner of an aisle, stop, look at the aisle directory, and ask yourself if you need anything down this aisle. If not, pass it, so you save lots of time and money. Keep your attention to the food products themselves, not where they are located. You can do this by sticking with a shopping list.

Shopping List

Shop with intention. Ask yourself, "what am I here to get?". All you have to do is take a look at your shopping list. Now with the wide spread use of smart phones, keeping an on-going grocery list is a snap. Almost all smart phones have a memo/notepad option. Whenever you discover you need something, type it in, and save it. Next time you're at the store, your accumulated list is right in the palm of your hand. I do this all the time, and even look up stores' sales via mobile web. Things will naturally catch your eye, so do what my mother always did, mark down one "impulse item" on the shopping list.

Never go grocery shopping when you are quite hungry.

Unless you have strong will power, the cravings and tummy rumblings will take over. You will come home ready to feast on your foraging, but may not have all of the food you initially sought out to buy - just whatever looked good at that hedonic moment.

Careful with Coupons

Coupons have long been a clever way to subtract away at your total bill at the cash register. Know each particular store's policy regarding coupons. You don't want to go through the grocery check-out, and end up arguing with the cashier over a coupon deduction.

Coupons can be thrifty for people cooking for one if the coupon is for something that is usually bought and used. Far too many coupons are marketing gimmicks for new products that the manufacturer is trying to promote.

If the product is something that you normally use (or at least truly want to try), then clip and save the coupon. Coupons are not cost-cutters if it entices you to buy something that you initially had no intention of buying in the first place. The money you spent on the coupon-featured product could have been applied towards something you actually need or want.


Buy More Back-to-Basics

A plank of lumber has tremendous possibilities of what it could become. However, once it is fashioned into a table, other options as an end product (such as paper, a pencil, a clubhouse, a deck) are eliminated. The more fabricated something becomes, the less options it has in being something else, unless it is deconstructed back into its original state.

When you are cooking for one person, it makes more sense to purchase items that can be transformed into multiple meals. The more basic and the more natural state food is in, the more you can do with it which translates into more meals for your money. I love macaroni and cheese (always have), but if I purchase a chunk of cheddar cheese instead of prepared mac 'n cheese, I can turn that cheese into macaroni and cheese along with a myriad of other meal options. 

Grocery shopping for one person is a different way of looking at and buying food. Grocery stores tend to be geared toward a multi-person household, but with these grocery shopping tips, you can buy what you need to cook for one person.