Grocery Shopping for One: The Single Girl’s Guide to Not Overbuying

Woman grocery shopping

Grocery shopping as a single gal is challenging to say the least. Here’s how to shop healthy while reducing food waste.

Grocery stores are setup to cater to families and Godzilla-sized portions, so until someone opens a chain specifically for single people (somebody please, I’m begging you!), we have to be strategic and thrifty during our grocery shopping trips.

Here are just some of the ways all you single people can keep your trips economical and reduce the amount of food that ends up wasted once it hits your fridge:

1. Decide on your common staples
We all have our go-to snacks and meals we turn to when we’re busy, so make sure you always have those ingredients on hand. This helps free up cash for other food purchases.

2. Shop at home
Go through your kitchen once a week to familiarize yourself with what you have, and when it’s going to expire. This will help you incorporate what’s about to go bad into your following week’s meals.

3. Make a list (and stick to it)
When planning what to buy, plan meals with similar ingredients to avoid excess purchases, then freeze leftovers for days when you don’t feel like cooking or have to work extra hours.

4. Have a snack first
A study from Cornell University finally proved you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach: They had 68 adults fast for five hours, then gave some of them crackers while others continued to fast. Those who didn’t have a snack bought 19 percent more food (including higher calorie foods) than those who noshed.

5. Shop by yourself
When I’m grocery shopping with friends and family, I’m less likely to stick to my list. The second someone says, “You have to try this,” I’m hopeless and the item’s in my cart within seconds. Face. Palm.

6. Go for fresh
Stores stock their shelves with the least fresh items toward the front. Don’t be shy about going all the way to the back of the fridge for those cartons of milk!

7. Avoid precut produce
Sure, not having to cut it yourself saves time, but not only is this process more expensive, they tend to spoil almost as soon as you buy them.

8. Shop the bulk bins
You’ll save money on things like coffee, tea, beans and dried fruit when grocery shopping where the bulk bins are (plus, you only have to buy what you know you’ll use!).

9. Buy meat in bulk – on sale
Buying family packs of meat is cheaper as it is, so when it’s on sale it’s an added bonus. Section off the meat as soon as you get home into single-portion freezer bags and put them in the freezer. Speaking of which…

10. Become BFFs with your freezer
If you’re concerned something’s going to go bad before you have a chance to eat it – such as that ginormous mound of spinach you nabbed on sale – learn how to freeze produce properly and go to town!

11. Maximize freshness
My fave destination after I’m done grocery shopping is the website Still Tasty. Type in any food item and they’ll tell you the best ways to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

How do you keep food waste to a minimum when you’re grocery shopping?

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Image: Mike Schmid

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).