Like I said the other day in my post about couponing at CVS, I am one of those people who likes couponing. I am usually pretty good with grocery and household purchases. Yet, since moving on my own I have found keeping a food budget quite challenging!
I thought shopping for one would be easy. After all, I am not feeding multiple people or caring for a big house, and I don't have a gaggle of teenagers or a house full of babies and picky toddlers. But single living brings its own challenges, here are a few I encountered (and some solutions).
Challenges of Cooking for One:
Recipes – While they can be adjusted relatively easily, most recipes are not designed for one person and need to be altered.
Time – Single people often find their time stretched in different ways than non-single people. While I certainly don’t have as many responsibilities as I will when/if I have a spouse and family, my life as someone living alone is much less “home-based,” than it would be if I were living with family or even roommates. I work multiple jobs, and all of my fellowship and family support is found outside of my home. A lot of times that means my food budget is spent on drive- through meals and quick convenience foods.
Waste - When you’re cooking for one food waste can be a big issue. I have had fruit rot and yogurt mold before I could finish containers, and have tried my hand at batch cooking only to discover that I disliked the recipe or grew bored of the meal before I finished it.
Cost Saving Strategies Don’t Always Apply - When you’re cooking for one person, buying in bulk is out for perishable items. Sure the cost per unit is less, but that doesn’t save you money when you simply can’t use the items before they will spoil. The same can be true with Buy One Get One (or Two) sales.
Batch Cook Basics – If you are set on batch cooking, stick with basic items. Cook a chicken, broccoli and rice casserole on Sunday night and you may easily be bored of it by Wednesday. Bake some plain chicken breasts and you can have baked chicken and veggies one night, a chicken sandwich for lunch one afternoon and countless other meals throughout the week.
Buy (Semi) Bulk of Things That Keep – It goes without saying, that non-perishables and paper products can be bought in bulk regardless of household size, but what about other items? While buying warehouse size packages of most perishable items is not the best idea for single-person households, there are some fresh produce items which keep well, and come in “semi” bulk packages. While I would never buy a restaurant size package of apples or carrots, I can confidently buy things like 10 lb. bags of potatoes or large quantities of easily-freezable bananas.
Buy Just What You Need for Things That Don’t – For the things which spoil quickly like fresh greens buy just what you intend to use in the next few days. For fresh salad I often stop at my grocery’s salad bar. While the cost per pound is significantly higher than regular produce, I am able to get a variety of salad veggies which I otherwise probably wouldn’t buy for just one person, and I don’t have to worry about anything going bad before it is eaten.
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