Living on my own - grocery tips?



  • jkal1979
    jkal1979 Posts: 1,897 Member
    I buy family pack size meats and break them down into individual serving sizes and freeze them. I also stock up on frozen veggies when they are on sale.

    If you shop at Meijer, I would highly suggest signing up for their Mperks program. They have a lot of good coupons on there, including coupons for meat and produce. You can also earn some really good coupons towards your total purchase depending on how much you spend there a month.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,701 Member
    I save money on produce by shopping at farmer's outlets and farm stands. If you are in the US, to find one near you visit

    If I had a limited budget for spices, I would have just:
    • Italian seasoning (use for any recipe that calls for Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, or Sage)
    • Pumpkin Pie Spice Seasoning Blend (use for any recipe that calls for Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, or Nutmeg)
    • Chili powder
    • Curry powder
    • Salt
    • Pepper

    I save money on spices by belonging to a natural foods buying club. We order from Frontier a few times a year and split bulk spices, which are incredibly cheap (but can take forever to consume, so best to split light spices like bay leaves lest you be like my mom and still have some 20 years after purchase.)

    I save money on meat by reviewing the supermarket circulars and stocking up when things are on sale. I eat mostly chicken. I also eat canned wild salmon, which is cheaper than canned tuna and considerably cheaper than fresh salmon. Doesn't taste the same - it's more of a canned tuna switch than a fresh salmon switch.
  • goldbergrr
    goldbergrr Posts: 9 Member
    2wise4u wrote: »
    I'm not going to argue the validity of a MLM company. Suffice to say I would give them $1 let alone $120 a month on average (which for the record is 1 week of food for my family of 4).

    Does it really cost that much?? Holy cow!!

    It does, unfortunately. It's basically the cost of going out to get a breakfast sandwich or something every day - which isn't a terrible expense occasionally but it's certainly a strain on the wallet when it's every day.
  • vanillarose77
    vanillarose77 Posts: 159 Member
    hey guys i just found this board and i live alone as well and i just wanted to say thanks for all the is hard to cook for just one person...usually i find myself throwing away a lot of left overs...i'm picky on some things being frozen and used for later but i try to do it ...
  • markdvsmo
    markdvsmo Posts: 16 Member
    A vacuum sealing machine (e.g. FoodSaver) can help a lot with the buy bulk/package individually thing. It can extend the freezer life of meats and many veggies to a year or more. You can also cook up batches of things like beans or chili, freeze individual-sized portions in one of those little semi-disposable rubbermaid food storage tubs, pop them out of the tub when frozen and then vacuum pack in a bag. The whole bag can then be tossed in a pot of boiling water to reheat.
  • yesimpson
    yesimpson Posts: 1,372 Member
    Buy items that are reduced or on offer (only if you ACTUALLY need them, not because a 3 for 2 seems like a good deal on face value), only go shopping with a list, create a meal plan for the week to ensure you're getting the most out of what you buy, and make use of your freezer.
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    Shop by checking out the circular. Plan your meals around what veg/fruits are on sale. You can stockpile meat that's on sale in the freezer for later. Should be able to EASILY do it under $25 a week. I fed 5 people for $55-65 a week without coupons. :) Mainly shop the outside of the store for ingredients rather than preprepared stuff to avoid expensive stuff and the stuff that's loaded with cheap fats (which makes profits on pre-prepared stuff higher).
  • MamaBirdBoss
    MamaBirdBoss Posts: 1,516 Member
    edited July 2015
    Oh, and you can just double-bag stuff in freezer bags instead of buying a food saver. Push out all the air, and it will keep a VERY long time!

    Shakeology is an obscene expense and isn't worth a fraction on the price. Eat real food. Freeze leftovers. With 1 person, you'll be cooking only 1-2 recipes a week (depending on whether you want lunch leftovers or something different).
  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,028 Member
    A list of foods to keep in your kitchen at all times to ensure that you are always ready to create a quick and healthy meal.

    When it comes to cooking and preparing food, no matter our good intentions, we often fall back on fast food or take-out. And now with a great many more options readily available to-go, it is often a viable option for eating well. However, it is also used too readily as an excuse, and with a few exceptions, you are better off preparing your own food and being in control of the contents of the food going into your body. With a little knowledge, a little planning and a little creativity, you should be able to quickly and easily put together a balanced meal in minutes.

    Some people like to be organized, even to the extent of complex shopping lists, spreadsheets and meals planned days or weeks in advance. I admire that, but I know that I will never fit into that category. I don’t even know what’s for lunch, and that’s about an hour away. What I can do well, though, is shop strategically and stock my cupboards and fridge so that even when there is “nothing to eat in the house,” I can make not only a healthy and satisfying meal, but one that is quick and tasty too.

    When shopping, read food labels. Look beyond potential label traps such as “low fat” (often high in sugar), “trans-fat free” (can be high in saturated fats), “natural” or “organic” (but not necessarily healthy) to find out what you are really eating.

    Shopping is the first key. The other is to master a few basics in the kitchen. You do not need to be a gourmet chef every night, but learn some simple cooking basics to help you create meals from “nothing” in the pantry and help you take shortcuts in the kitchen. That also means that what you cook is edible.

    Pantry, Freezer and Fridge Essentials
    Pastas—thin styles will cook quickly

    Gnocchi—cooks in seconds

    Rice noodles

    Quick-cooking rice and other grains such as couscous and quinoa—just need boiling water to be ready in minutes

    Tinned legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas and black beans—a great, convenient protein source

    Baked beans

    Tinned tomatoes and tomato puree—think pasta sauces, soup bases, quick stews etc.

    Canned fish, such as tuna, salmon and anchovies—used for anything from sandwiches to salads

    Dried and tinned fruits

    Oats, oatmeal and other breakfast cereals

    Condiments, such as soy sauce, mustard, sweet chili sauce, chili flakes, dried herbs and spices, olive oils, assortment of vinegars (balsamic, white, red), honey, nut butters, capers—these all add essential flavor to the basics.

    Potatoes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables—keep in a cool and dark cupboard

    Stock, either liquid or powdered

    Garlic and onion

    Sports foods/muesli bars

    Fridge and Freezer:
    Low fat cheese and milk, including long-life milk in the pantry

    Frozen vegetables—so good for emergencies, with no compromise in nutritional content compared to the fresh version.


    Fresh pasta/Hokkien noodles

    Frozen individual portions of chicken, salmon and beef


    Fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, chives and mint—freeze well by washing and patting dry before freezing in small snap-lock bags

    Frozen pizza bases and tortilla wraps

    Lemons—juice can be frozen in ice cubes for small, quick servings

    Sliced whole grain bread and English muffins—can be kept frozen

    Salad greens, vegetables, tomatoes and fresh fruit—if you can buy these in smaller quantities so they stay fresh, you are more likely to use them. Also, buy seasonal produce as it will last longer and taste better and probably be the most economical.

    Quick cooking cheats:
    Stock your kitchen with some essential cooking equipment: a decent-sized pot, non-stick pans, a grill or BBQ, chopping boards and knives. This will make getting in the kitchen and preparing food not only much easier but much more pleasant.

    Also invest in a couple of simple recipe books so you can get some ideas on flavor and techniques. Then experiment to find out what you can substitute or add to make the dish your own.

    Consider a local grocery or market delivery service. It’s not only a time saver, but you are also more likely to buy what you need rather than get distracted by other temptations.

    The microwave is not just for frozen meals; it’s a great way to steam veggies, for example. It can also be used to give roasted veggies a head start: Steam sweet potatoes until tender and then spread them out on a baking tray. Spray lightly with oil and place under a grill until they are golden chips.

    Make friends with a wok, one of the quickest ways to cook up a healthy dinner. Using bags of pre-chopped veggies or frozen packs makes it even quicker.

    Salad greens can be bought pre-washed and meats trimmed and sliced. It may be a bit more expensive, but it’s another great time saver.

    Eggs are such a great staple and can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Frittatas and omelettes are versatile, but there is nothing wrong with a simple egg on toast for dinner. Or baked beans on toast. Or cheese on toast, especially with a side of some steamed veggies.

    If you do get more time on a weekend or cook more than you are going to eat, consider freezing individual portions or just eating leftovers the next day for lunch or dinner.

    Eat breakfast for dinner. When truly stuck with nothing, some breakfast cereals are actually an acceptable (nutritionally speaking) option. Add some yogurt and fruit and get to the shops soon.

    Some quick cheat pantry meals, quicker than ordering take-out:
    Couscous salad: Pour hot stock or boiling water over couscous, cover and leave to stand a few minutes until tender. Meanwhile, steam fresh or frozen broccoli florets and green peas, drain tinned chickpeas and chop some cherry tomatoes in half. Combine with couscous, drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh parsley if you have that on hand. Season to taste and top with some toasted pine nuts. Instead of using couscous, you could also make a pasta salad or even a lentil salad using drained, tinned lentils.

    Tuna pasta: To cooked pasta or gnocchi, add drained tinned tuna, chopped tinned tomatoes, capers, chopped basil and season to taste. Top with crumbled feta.

    Frittata: Sauté a chopped onion in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add steamed vegetables and mix. Pour over lightly whisked eggs and gently stir. When the edges start to set, top with some low-fat cheese and place under a hot grill until browned and bubbly.

    Fried rice: Prepare some par-cooked quick rice (the partially cooked packets cook quickly in the microwave). Let cool and set aside. In a wok heat a small amount of oil, add an onion, garlic and some chopped ham (optional) and stir quickly until onion is cooked. Add vegetables (use either drained tinned corn, greens peas or some frozen mixed vegetables) and stir until hot. Push to the side of the pan and add an egg, stirring quickly to scramble. Then add rice plus some soy sauce and sweet chili sauce to taste and stir until hot throughout. Top with some coriander.

    Chicken and noodle miso soup: Combine some miso paste or miso soup mix with a dash of soy sauce and water and bring to a boil. Add thinly sliced chicken pieces, a handful of asian greens or other thinly sliced vegetables (either fresh or frozen) as well as some fresh Hokkien noodles. Cook 2-3 minutes until tender.

    Get to the store and get cooking!

  • 999tigger
    999tigger Posts: 5,236 Member
    edited July 2015
    Cooking for one is easy, although cooking for several isnt much more hassle. The biggest thing if I was at Uni would be my refrigeration and freezer storage because that makes everything a lot easier. Of upi dpnt have much space then id consider getting your own 2nd hand one, which you cna either share with other hosuemates or use yourself imo it would save you money.

    Besides the general shop for reduced items and knowing whats good value for money my favourite items are oats, milk, eggs and then frozen stuff. Make friends with your local aldi if you dont have a farmers/ traditional market to go to. You cna make things like soups and stews in batches and then carton them up to eat as needed over time.

    Learning to cook, teaches you a skill, helps you understand about food, controls what you eat and is cheaper.
  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,028 Member
    also, i'm a big fan of the site, lots of great simple and healthy recipes there.