Whether you’re newly single or living on your own for the first time, grocery shopping for one can be a challenge. We’re sure you already know the tried-and-true tips (avoiding the grocery store when you’re hungry, clipping coupons), but there are lots of other ways to save on your grocery bill. It’s surprising how easily milk, eggs and bread can add up!
So in an effort to save some dough for much more important splurges (like that much-needed happy hour cocktail) and to avoid only hanging in the frozen food aisle, here are 12 grocery shopping tips every single lady should know.
1. Adopt your own foolproof formula: The same way you have a strategy when you’re about to hit the mall (I do, don’t judge) you need to be prepared for your trip to the market. Make a list of everything you think you may need that week. Check your fridge for the essentials before you head out (salt, oil, eggs) and note any planned trips or dinner plans throughout the week. You may want to also think about downloading Pinterest on your phone to start each week with recipes that are both flexible and inspiring.
2. Maximize your fresh ingredients: We hate the feeling of opening our fridge only to discover moldy strawberries or a dried up bunch of kale. With a little planning (and a couple sticky note reminders) you can avoid wasting food and also encourage yourself to try new recipes. Rosemary eggs, anyone?
3. Work that green thumb: It’s not for everyone, but keeping fresh herb plants on your windowsill is an excellent way to save some cash and bring a little life to your pad.
4. Generic doesn’t mean bad: It’s okay to purchase generic brands — just make sure to read the nutrition label for any funny business. No sucralose or phenylalkaline for us.
5. Outsmart the grocery store: Keep in mind that grocery store chains are a business and want to make the biggest profit they can. You might be shocked to find out that grocery stores try to keep the priciest items at eye-level, so if it’s a bargain you’re after, stick with the bottom shelves or high above your head. Another must-know tip is to calculate “deals” and ask employees if you have any questions. If a store is offering a three-for-$5 sale, you usually don’t have to buy all three items to get the sale price.
6. Don’t fall prey to overpriced single-serving sizes: More packaging = more money the consumer spends. Not only are you trimming the costs by re-packaging your own yogurt and chips and buying from bulk dispensers, but you’re also helping the environment and controlling your quantity. Because not everybody wants a 16-ounce bag of raw almonds.
7. Shop seasonal: When markets have an overabundance of produce, they often put it on sale. If you’re unsure what is currently in season, check out RipeTrack for an easy way to tell.
8. Be smart about shopping organic: If you’re interested in eating organic but can’t afford to buy everything this way, follow the rule of the dirty dozen + clean fifteen. Not all produce is grown the same way, and these simple lists will help you decide what’s worth buying organic.
9. Utilize your freezer: Shopping solo usually means skipping on packaged perishable items like loaves of bread, which in our opinion is really unfair. Next time you pick up a loaf (especially a fancy kind like Ezekiel), stick it in the freezer. Bread thaws rather quickly, and this will save you from spending tons of money on bread in the long run. It’s also a great idea to freeze a few bananas, berries, etc to keep them from going bad (and to make smoothies).
10. Test out vegetarianism: Hey, you may like steak and frites as much as the next girl, but that combo comes with a hefty price tag. If going completely meatless is out of the question, try to reserve it for just a couple times a week. You’ll save money and it will force you to try other sources of protein (eggplant, portobello mushrooms). Not to mention it will make your steak taste and feel more special when you do indulge.
11. Note the “randos”: Take survey of what you currently have in your fridge and what will soon perish. Do you have eggs that are days away from expiring and some veggies lying around? Whip up a frittata for dinner. This will help you avoid trekking to the grocery store and buying items that you don’t need.
12. Go bulk, or go home: If you live in a major metropolis like San Francisco or New York, you know it’s nearly impossible to go home during your lunch break. To avoid lunchtime escapades to Whole Foods’s hot food bar or the chips aisle at CVS, we suggest planning ahead with salad jars. Oh, and soft boiled eggs are healthy eaters’ secret weapon.
Do you have any must-know grocery shopping tips for the single ladies (and gents) that we left off the list? We want to know. Share them in the comments