I would like to know if you have any advice or tips for being frugal with food when living alone. Most foods you buy in the grocery store are sized for 2-4 people. I don’t eat alone every night, but on the nights that I do, I find myself with a storage problem. I often find myself opening a jar of spaghetti sauce, using only part of it, and putting the rest in the fridge with the intention of using it up in the next few days. More often that not, what happens is I either forget about the sauce or don’t get around to using it, and eventually I have to throw it out because it’s unusable. This makes me feel bad for not only wasting food, but wasting money. I occasionally see single-serving portions of canned/jarred foods in the grocery store, but they aren’t very cost-effective. Do you have any ideas for how to get my money’s worth from the grocery store, one serving at a time?
Thank you Emily for such a great question. I am glad to hear you are concerned about waste. This isn’t something on everyone’s mind.
When I lived on my own, I developed a few tricks for eating healthy and saving money on food which worked really well. Not only did I reduce waste but I also stayed within my food budget.
The grocery store can be a treasure trove of food opportunities for the single person. You just have to look. Here are my tips for solo cooking and dining:
Smoothies are, by design, single servings. Keep frozen fruit and yogurt on hand for a last-minute smoothie. They’re great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. I would have a smoothie every morning for breakfast and I still do to this day.
Go Soup Crazy
Canned soup is an easy meal for one. Some canned soups are better than others in flavor and nutrition though. Try to buy the ones with low sodium or no sodium. They are much better for you. Experiment, and find the ones you like and keep some in the pantry. You can embellish them by adding frozen or fresh veggies, or topping them with green onions, chives, or cilantro, etc.
Pasta is a perfect entree for singles. If you use fresh packaged pasta or tortellini/ravioli, boil what you need and freeze the rest. If you use dry pasta (try the new whole-wheat blends), boil as much as you need and store the rest in your pantry. Now if you don’t have a freezer, another option is to make two servings of pasta and have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Cold pasta salad makes a lovely lunch, or you can microwave leftover pasta for a hot lunch. For an easy sauce just a drizzle flavored olive oil and some balsamic vinegar on top. I personally love pasta salad because it is really quick to make, nutritious if I add some fresh chopped veggies, and tastes delicious.
Munch on Greens
Those triple-washed bags of salad make salads a cinch but they aren’t always cost effective. Instead, buy heads of spinach or romaine salad greens for the most nutrition, then add any or all of the following:
- Dried fruit.
- Roasted nuts. Pine nuts, almonds, and pecans work well.
- Fruit. Try fresh berries or pears, or a can of mandarin oranges. I personally love blackberries and strawberries.
- Ready-to-go veggies like cherry or grape tomatoes; sugar snap peas; sliced, shredded or baby carrots. Or slice up some cucumber, zucchini, or bell pepper.
- Canned beans (kidney, black, or garbanzo). Just rinse and sprinkle them on top. There are 8-ounce cans which are the perfect size for a single serving.
- Water-packed tuna. Just open a can, drain the excess water, flake, and toss it in. I personally don’t eat meat but this is an option.
- Light salad dressing. Keep bottled favorites in your refrigerator (they last a long time), or just drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top. I like more simple flavoured dressings.
Load Up on Fruit
Buy Dried Whole Grains
The best thing about dried whole grains is that they last a really long time. You can store some in your cupboard for quick and ready access without the worry of them going bad. This is within reason of course – don’t go longer than 6 months before you buy fresh. I personally like quinoa, wheat berries, and buckwheat. You can use grains in things like cereals and baking but you can also use them in salads or casseroles. Like tofu, they are very versatile. You can buy them in the bulk food section or the pre-packaged areas at the store. Go for the bulk section; it is often cheaper and you limit packaging which is great for mother nature.
As you can see, there are many ways to eat a variety of healthy foods as a single person without breaking the bank or generating a ton of waste. These are just a few things that I have found helped me save money and waste and still eat healthy when I was single. Even though I am now married, I still buy a lot of these things things for our meals. I definitely recommend giving them a try.
So fellow readers, what others things could Emily try? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?
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