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Grocery Shopping for One: How to Save Money & Reduce Waste


Living alone has many advantages. You don’t need to worry about another person keeping you up at night, leaving a mess or eating your food. There are downsides, too, though. One of them involves grocery shopping. With so many packages and recipes designed for families, purchasing food for a single person can be challenging.

Here are six tips to help you grocery shop for one—without wasting food or money.

  1. Don’t be afraid to cook. Buying pre-made food is often more expensive than cooking for yourself. Don’t think that cooking for one is a waste of time. You can use recipes designed for one person, like these from Allrecipes, or you can cook several servings and save the leftovers for future meals.
  2. The freezer is your friend. If you buy more food than you can eat, don’t let it spoil. If you think it will go bad in your refrigerator, stick it in the freezer. This way, you’re not wasting food—or money.
  3. Know when to buy in bulk. Sometimes buying in bulk is smart, even if you’re only shopping for yourself. If you eat a lot rice, for example, buying a large bag makes sense, especially if it’s discounted. On the other hand, buying a lot of a fruit with a short shelf life could lead to waste. In general, buy non-perishable items that you use regularly in bulk, if you have space to store them. Avoid giant-sized purchases of other items, even if it seems like a good deal at the time.
  4. Make a shopping list. This is good advice for anyone. Make a shopping list and stick to it. That way, you’ll avoid impulse buys. You’ll also avoid forgetting items and having to make another run to the store, which can lead to even more impulse buys.
  5. Use coupons. Again, this is a good way for all grocery shoppers to save, regardless of how many people they’re feeding. If you’re not a fan of scissors, don’t worry. Many stores—including Foodland and Safeway—offer digital coupons and deals.
  6. Don’t be tempted by sales. Buying something on sale is great, but only if you’re going to use it. Don’t buy something you don’t need just because it’s on sale.

Fool.com reports that the average household throws out 16 percent of the food it buys. See if you can do better!