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11 Smart Shopping Tips for Small Households
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Great tips. I buy some things in bulk and freeze in smaller packages.
I only have 2 to cook for and my favorite thing to do is go ahead and make 4 or more servings then use the leftovers for a cook free night and or easy lunch. It's easy to grill a pack of chicken breasts then incorporate that into salads and dinners.
Good tips from article and comments. While it'll be another 6-7 years before we're empty nesters, I immediately thought of someone else who has asked for "cooking for 2" tips. Now, how do I email this article!?
Romaine lettuce (or leaf) keeps well in a tightly closed container like Rubbermaid with paper towels top and bottom. Celery keeps well if wrapped in aluminum foil.
I live alone, so am very used to shopping and cooking for one.
I usually always buy meats,chicken in value packs and refreeze. Saves money.
I cube bananas ,freeze for my smoothies. I have no trouble using the lettuce packages, eat a lot of salads. Romaine lettuce lasts the longest, Always buy loose fresh veggies. I only need a handful of beans or snap peas for a stir fry. Even potatoes one can buy loose. No need for a 5 lb bag. It's best to have your meals planned out for the week.
That way I only have to shop once a week. I list items I need on a chalk board , so I always know what to purchase on my next trip to the store.
1) Things that freeze well and are easily separated into single / double serving amounts are great for those cooking for 1 or 2. For example, I buy lean ground beef which often comes as 1.25 pounds or close. When I get home, I pull out my food scale and separate it into freezer bags. Now all I have to do is take one down the night before I want to eat it and a single serving amount is right there for me. Some breads also freeze well, so a 2 for 1 loaf offer which otherwise seems absurd for one person can mean bread for a couple months.
2) Check the single-unit prices on things on sale for a number for a price. For example, something at "4 for $5.00" may very well be $1.25 each - and us solo eaters only need one. Other times buying the specified number is required for the value (e.g. buy one, get one free) and that isn't an option - but by checking we don't buy more than we can use.
Due to the fact that I am on my own for periods of time, I usually buy a bag of prepared salad. I realize that it isn't ideal, but if I buy a head of lettuce, I am going to have wasted food and that is the last thing that I want to do. For celery, I usually look for the single pieces. And I do avoid bulk packaging as much as I possibly can, but for some things, its just more convenient for me to have a large bag of pasta on hand rather than buying bulk on a weekly basis.
And for things like flour and sugar, you can usually get smaller packages.
Share the wealth, and start a dinner club with another couple. One weekend your place, one weekend, theirs. That way, if you find a sale on certain bulk items, you can use it up... then get a break the next weekend.
If you live in an apartment or in close proximity to some other singles, you can go to the warehouse stores, then split the items... just remember to take a calculator. Shopping together saves on gas and waste of small packaging as well as promoting a sense of community.
Take it to work. If I feel like having chocolate chip cookies, I can make a batch, just have two and take the rest to share with the office. It creates good karma!
I like to put certain kinds of produce to use by planting it when it "goes bad"... only works for a few items, though. Buying a 5- or 10-pound bag of potatoes is usually cheaper than buying a few single potatoes, so when the eyes sprout I cut them up (make sure each piece has an eye in it) and bury the pieces in the back yard so I'll have more potatoes a couple of months later. Same goes for garlic, when a little green shoot sprouts out of the tops of the cloves I'll break off each clove and plant it in a long planter box; each clove grows into a whole head.
I learned that no matter how good of a deal it is, do not buy fruit at CostCo. It usually isn't in the best shape to begin with - no idea why but with just the two of us there is no way we're going to eat 4 pounds of grapes before they go bad.
It's just myself and my husband and I use all of these shopping tips. But it's still hard not to have some things go to waste. We've gotten a lot better about it, however. Fresh produce is the hardest. Whatever meat we don't eat, we freeze. One other thing I do is if I buy one produce item because it's on a sale, I'll wind up using that item in every dish I make that week. I'll come up with different ways to use it so I don't waste it.
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