Cooking for one can be a challenge. Not only do you have to work to prepare the proper portion sizes (including playing around with recipes to yield smaller amounts), you also have the challenge of making your trips to the grocery store economical. It's easier to spend more money on a meal when you're cooking for one person as opposed to several. Here are some grocery shopping tips to guide you when you're only cooking for yourself.
Tip One: Study the Weekly Circulars
The easiest way to save money and plan your meals is to look at the weekly grocery store circulars before shopping. It'll not only help you see what's on sale, but also give you ideas for things to cook based upon ingredients that are being featured.
Tip Two: Make Weekly Meal Plans
No matter how many people you're cooking for, it's important only to enter the grocery store when you have a plan. Looking at the weekly circulars is the first step. After that you'll want to come up with your weekly meal plan. When you're cooking for one, you'll probably rotate between nights where you prepare multiple portions (good for leftovers) and single portions. Take into account how many nights each week you want to cook. Especially if you plan to make multiple portions, cooking four nights a week is generally more than enough.
Tip Three: Stock Up on Meat When it's on Sale
The best time to buy meat is when it's marked down significantly. Since you can store meat for long periods of time in your freezer, it's best to buy even when there is no immediate need if the price is right.
Tip Four: Stock Up on Easy Meal Items
Sometimes you won't want to cook, so it's good to have simple things on hand to prepare when one of those nights rolls around--nobody wants to be calling for take out all of the time. Simple food items like boxed macaroni and cheese, canned soups and frozen dinners are good to have on hand for those nights.
Tip Five: Buy Smaller Portions of Perishable Foods
Though it makes more financial sense to buy larger portions, you should purchase what you'll actually consume when it comes to perishable food. For instance, you probably won't eat an entire watermelon all by yourself. Purchasing a half watermelon or a pack of slices makes more sense for the single cook. There will be less waste.
Tip Six: Schedule Your Grocery Shopping Trips
Limiting the quantity of perishables you're buying means making more frequent trips to the store. Try to make a routine of going to the grocery store. It may be once a week or twice a week, but going on regularly scheduled days will keep you from popping into the store and needlessly spending--it's an easy habit to get into when you're only cooking for yourself and suddenly are overcome with a craving.