Author Topic: Groceries for singles  (Read 11881 times)

Silvie

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Groceries for singles
« on: August 02, 2013, 08:06:23 AM »
Hi all,

I live on my own. I do have a boyfriend who's around sometimes (mostly weekends) but he hasn't moved in with me yet.
I find it difficult to buy groceries for myself, as most products come in large sizes, meaning that at the end of the week some of the products have gone bad and I have to throw them out. I hate wasting food, but some products are simply not available in smaller portions and if they are, they're much more expensive.

Does this happen to other people living alone too? I'm in the Netherlands but I guess in the US, where everything comes in size XXXXL ;) people have this problem as well?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 08:08:12 AM by Silvie »

dcsaver

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 08:12:03 AM »
You might try cooking and inviting others over to eat (or do potluck.) That way you take advantage of the large sizes and have more variety in your meals and become a favorite among your friends.

smalllife

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 08:16:48 AM »
I found that cooking from scratch (frozen meats in single serve portions, etc.) has helped, although to be fair I probably don't eat enough fruits and veggies.  To remedy that I bought a blender and make healthy smoothies - again, frozen fruit so I can buy in bulk and it won't go bad.  I'm working on finding a good way to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies but with just one person and an erratic evening schedule it can be hard, hence my reliance on smoothies and quick snacks.

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 08:36:59 AM »
Thanks for the advice! I should add that I hate cooking (but I do it anyway) and that I'm a vegetarian, so no meat for me. The smoothies sound like a good idea.

ChiStache

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 08:47:20 AM »
When I lived by myself, I would try to make make a batch of something on Sundays, and then freeze most of it in individual servings (like this: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/cooking-101/). That way, there was always an assortment of DIY frozen meals in my freezer. 

I would also try to use Sundays to prep veggies for the week, like this: http://www.thekitchn.com/video-cook-a-we-163999

cerberusss

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 08:53:49 AM »
I make a menu in the weekend, then head out grocery shopping. For the start of the week, I get fresh veggies. End of the week, I plan stuff like tacos, pancakes, dal soup, etc.

Hey Codo

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 09:00:22 AM »
I live by myself right now as well. One thing I've started doing, is that if I know my dinner will be too big to finish, get a bag and put that bad boy in the fridge for lunch the next day at work. I've actually gotten into a good cycle with this. One example of this (I know you don't eat meat) but when I get london broil (avg $5) I can only eat half of it. So I put the other half in the fridge and then I have lunch the next day. Not bad for $2.50 a meal (granted that not any sides). If you're looking for great snacks or sides btw, I've started making MMM homemade french fries from potatoes...wow, the serving sizes are huge and it only takes one potato!

matchewed

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 09:00:39 AM »
Frozen veggies, lots of eggs, and I stopped buying bread since I ran into the fact that it spoils too soon for me to eat it. Mostly if you're buying stuff that goes bad too quickly you'll just have to find smaller sizes or alternatives. Alternatives were already mentioned with frozen vegetables and the like.

What products are spoiling too quickly?

Theadyn

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 09:05:30 AM »
I am widowed with a grown daughter, so cooking for one has been a new challenge.  :)   I do a lot of cooking for a family size and freeze the leftovers in portions for easy meals a lot (I LOVE to cook!  so this really is a challenge for me).  Some other things I like to do is prepare ahead and freeze for easy stir fry's and the like, makes cooking a lot easier for one.   I do love the challenges of making recipes fit me.  For example, I spent years tweaking my homemade pizza recipe, and I love the pizza, but it makes 2 huge ones, so I've been tweaking the recipe to make a single serve sized one to fit in the toaster oven.  Gives me a challenge and I'm not deprived of one of my favorite past time dishes.

I more or less shop the same way (menu's from the pantry, shop the sales, etc.) but the groceries just last me a lot longer.  Fine by me! :)   If there's a particularly good sale on, say, bell peppers or onions, I'll stock up, slice/dice up, flash freeze, and freeze in baggies.  Stuff like bananas and the like that doesn't freeze well (I tried without fail, lol) I'll only buy when out or enough, even if it's on sale, so they don't go bad before being eaten.

Yes, everything here is in super size it seems, and buying in bulk does cut down costs.  My next strategy will be to just find x amount of dishes I like and just buy those items on sale and not worry about the rest.  Best of luck!!!

aj_yooper

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 09:06:25 AM »
We buy bread in doubles and freeze one so it is ready for next week.  You could split up the loaf and freeze the extra for the next weeks.  Bread thaws out within a few hours or you can toast frozen bread with no problem.

StarryC

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2013, 06:40:54 PM »
I think one key is "interlocking" recipes + shopping at places where you can buy fewer ingredients.  I know you said you are a vegetarian, but I don't know what you'd eat.

For example:
Day 1: Fish tacos using tortillas, white fish, cabbage, onion, avocado, tomato, cilantro
Day 2: Chicken with tomato, onion, cilantro salsa
Day 3: Chicken Salad using the cabbage, cilantro and toasted tortillas
Day 4: Grilled chicken with a storable grain (rice or quinoa) and any leftover vegetables

So basics that don't go bad (at least not quickly): Rice, Quinoa, Bulger Wheat as a grain. 
If you do buy a "bread" product like tortillas or hamburger buns be prepared to use it as intended (hamburger) but also be creative: making croutons, meatloaf, garlic bread with it.
I can buy 1 carrot, 1 mushroom, 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 potato etc,.  For things that you must buy as "too big" like a whole cabbage, or bunch of herbs, or a whole jar of pesto, or a whole can of beans or whatever, then you need to have 2-4 recipes to use it. 

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2013, 05:17:16 AM »
Thanks guys, this is a huge help.

Most important learnings:
- cooke more and freeze it
- plan meals and buy ingredients accordingly.

I can do that! Thanks :)

kh

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2013, 05:25:00 AM »
Keeping loaves of bread in the fridge instead of the pantry has helped me a ton. A single loaf lasts that way for weeks if you wrap it up well, and if it starts to dry out you can always toast. Otherwise I was about to give up on bread because I was throwing away moldy ends all the time. Also, save the stale heels for killer bread pudding. Bake it with a couple of frozen bananas (they go black, but are still perfectly fine for baked things), an egg or two, a little milk, and some cinnamon for a killer breakfast, especially with some maple syrup.

ender

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2013, 07:05:24 AM »
When I make homemade bread, which has no preservatives save salt, I almost always freeze a bunch of it so it lasts longer.


unpolloloco

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2013, 09:33:19 AM »
The freezer is your friend.  Buy frozen wherever possible and make sure to freeze anything that is about to go bad.  Most stuff can survive a freezing if it's going to be cooked when it comes out.  Avoid the stuff that can't survive a trip through the freezer.

mpbaker22

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2013, 09:41:10 AM »
What items specifically are you wasting?

The local grocery store has specials for family sizes.  So, I usually buy ~4 pounds of whatever meat is on sale, and I freeze most of it.  4 Pounds is the size of the family pack.  That's usually good for a week (or two).

I also bought 4-5 pounds of cheese recently, but I can go through that in the refrigerator before it goes bad.  I'm not the best at food expenses, but it's usually not a result of food waste.

ZiziPB

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2013, 12:42:39 PM »
I second all of the advice about freezing.  I am a single woman who loves to cook, so I cook big batches of things like stews (that include a lot of veggies), chili (regular or white bean & chicken), dahl, etc. on the weekends and freeze them in 1-2 serving portions.  This way I can take a container out of the freezer at any time, supplement with brown rice, quinoa or pita bread and have dinner one night and lunch the next (or dinner two nights in a row).  My lunches are usually salads - I buy a bag of 3 organic romaine hearts (they keep well and don't wilt easily), an English cucumber, a red pepper and a box cherry tomatoes.  It is a good base for making salads all week (I keep salad dressing in the fridge in the office).  I add some feta and olives to make a greek salad, or chick peas and avocado, or some protein (if I roast a chicken or grill some meat during the weekend, I plan for leftovers that I can slice on top of my salad).  I also keep a loaf of sliced multigrain bread in the freezer - it's easy to just take out a couple of slices for toast or a sandwich (a couple of slices just take minutes to defrost).  Breakfasts are plain greek yogurt and fresh berries, or an english muffin with peanut butter and jelly, or oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and brown sugar, or a couple of boiled eggs and vegetable juice.   All in all, I have virtually zero food waste and I eat healthy home prepared food all the time.  Using legumes in a lot of my cooking stretches the budget, too.

Zikoris

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2013, 01:01:43 PM »
When I was single, I used to get a weekly grocery delivery from a local organic foods place. They gave an assortment of fresh produce, plus whatever else I ordered - not super cheap, about $50/week. I would usually order soy milk, tofu, tempeh or some sort of canned chickpeas or lentils, bread(pre-enlightenment when I hadn't started making it myself yet), and maybe some small bags of "fancy" grains, in addition to the standard assortment of fruit and veg they offered.

It worked well because the produce was different every week, and it was interesting trying to find ways to use everything - I ended up experimenting with a lot of stuff I wouldn't have bought on my own. And they delivered it to my door weekly, which was convenient.

onehappypanda

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2013, 02:08:58 PM »
Planning and freezing is basically what it'll come down to. Some of this is repeat info but these are the "rules" I used when I lived alone:

Plan so that ingredients get used in multiple meals. If you have a lot of lettuce, plan on salad for the next several days and vary the toppings so you don't get bored.

Plan so that more fresh and perishable items like lettuce and meat get used up earlier in the week, before they go bad. Toward the end of the week, get creative with leftovers, nonperishables, and things in the freezer.

Freeze stuff like meat, if all you can find is bigger packs. You can even freeze leftover produce and use it for veggie soup down the road.

Look for nonperishables: frozen veggies, canned beans, whole grains, etc. are staples that won't go bad. Get creative with throwing things together to make a meal out of leftovers. Sometimes it'll look funny (sausage with pasta and broccoli?) but I bet it'll taste fine and be just as nutritious as a recipe-made meal.

impaire

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2013, 02:52:43 PM »

 Stuff like bananas and the like that doesn't freeze well (I tried without fail, lol) I'll only buy when out or enough, even if it's on sale, so they don't go bad before being eaten.

You can freeze bananas! They'll go brown and be a bit mushy if you peel them before freezing (still perfectly fine for baking), but you can also freeze them whole and peel them when ready to use (let them warm up a tiny bit, and then slice of the peel with a knife); that'll prevent oxidation and they will still look fresh if you're just throwing them in a smoothie or such.

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2013, 04:12:03 AM »
@mpbaker22: things like jars of pesto, olives, stuff that only lasts a few days after opening. Salad/lettuce, fruit (grapes mostly).

neoptolemus412

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2013, 07:48:08 AM »
I live alone and am very regimented in the foods I put into my body.  I go to 4 places.  Whole foods, Wegmans (local awesome grocery store chain in PA), various farmer's markets, and on occasion Trader Joes.  I'm a firm believer in the quality of the food you eat aids in one's quality of life.  I primarily buy perishable items.  Food is my 2nd largest fixed expense a month on average after housing.  (caveat, employer pays for cell phone & gas.   thus some expenses others may have are 0 for me & allow more put towards food).

Shopping at higher end grocery chains can get quite expensive.  Thus, I routinely stock up on vegetables from the less expensive farmer's market for salads/cooking during the week.  I purchase onions, baby spinach, carrots, celery, apples, and an assortment of other goodies for a week to two weeks.  I keep many of them in the fridge and cook the items more likely to spoil on Sundays to ensure freshness during the week.

For proteins, I eat chicken, fish, and grass fed beef.  That's it.  I try to get the highest quality items.  I freeze them when on sale (which is rare for quality protein).  Sometimes I save by purchasing from a local butcher, but it's easier to buy from a grocery store.  There is a cow share in my area, but I haven't found enough people willing to buy in. 

Overall, I track every $$$ and my food routinely comes in around $250-300 per month.  I pack my lunches, snacks, and dinners every day.  Thus, my restaurant, takeout, & occasional fast food consumption is less than $50 per month.   By cooking, I keep a healthy diet and

I take Saturday to plan out my meals for the week.  I shop either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.  I cook for 1 hr tops on Sunday.  Sometimes I'll cook half on Sunday & the other half on Wednesday night.  Crockpot is a must, especially for the beef.  It saves time and energy.   Overall, it's like working out.  Set a schedule, commit to it, and automate as much as possible.

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2013, 08:38:13 AM »
@ cjottawa: I work from home so I eat lunch at home too, saves me a lot of money. Besides, in the Netherlands it's not that common to go out for lunch (or dinner, for that matter).

As a vegetarian, I don't eat meat. I noticed that Americans like big breakfasts, and that sure helps to prevent food from spoiling. In NL though, we just eat peanutbutter (or cheese) sandwiches or cereal for breakfast. I keep a loaf of bread in the freezer. My main concern is dinner.

@Neoptolemus412 Good point, cooking a bunch of stuff for the rest of the week sounds good, as I hate cooking. This way I'd only have to do it once or twice per week and I won't be wasting as much food.

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2013, 08:54:23 AM »
@mpbaker22: things like jars of pesto, olives, stuff that only lasts a few days after opening. Salad/lettuce, fruit (grapes mostly).

i've found that lettuce keeps better if kept stood in a shallow bowl of water. it contains a lot of water and starts to wilt/look bad when it begins to lose this.

if you like pesto you could try growing basil and making your own. i think it can be grown on a windowsill.

plainjane

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2013, 09:14:41 AM »
@mpbaker22: things like jars of pesto, olives, stuff that only lasts a few days after opening. Salad/lettuce, fruit (grapes mostly).

i've found that lettuce keeps better if kept stood in a shallow bowl of water. it contains a lot of water and starts to wilt/look bad when it begins to lose this.

I was once told to think of lettuce like a cut flower.  A head will last better if you keep it upright in a bit of water that you replace daily.

Peanut Butter

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2013, 09:27:31 AM »
I second all of the freezing advice. I just got done with a big round of cooking. I have a 15 quart stockpot that I make soups and stews in, and then freeze. It works for me because I actually hate cooking, so I get it all over with at once. Also, frozen fruits are AWESOME. I love fruit, but I could never eat it before it went bad. Any bananas I can't finish, I slice up and put in a tupperware container for smoothies.

What my freezer looks like at this very moment. :)

The red stuff is the borscht I just finished making and freezing. There's also quinoa (I make it with beef stock and taco seasoning for taco salads) and long grain brown rice in the old yogurt containers. The corn isn't for eating, It's at least 3 years old and I use them as ice packs after I'm done running. :)

For lettuce, I'm ashamed to say I get the bagged stuff. It's the only way I can come CLOSE to eating it all before it goes bad. For fresh fruits and veggies I use things like apples, potatoes, beets, carrots, etc - stuff that doesn't go bad so quickly. If a recipe calls for 1/2 of something (like a cabbage) I always multiply it until it uses a whole one and then freeze the rest.

As soon as a friend returns some of my mason jars, I'm going to be making red beans and rice and some chili, and then I'll be set for the rest of the month, save for dairy products and fresh veggies.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 09:33:12 AM by Peanut Butter »

Peanut Butter

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2013, 09:35:27 AM »
As a vegetarian, I don't eat meat. I noticed that Americans like big breakfasts, and that sure helps to prevent food from spoiling. In NL though, we just eat peanutbutter (or cheese) sandwiches or cereal for breakfast. I keep a loaf of bread in the freezer. My main concern is dinner

If you eat eggs, when the bread gets stale and hard you could always make French toast/eggy bread.

Peanut Butter

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2013, 09:51:53 AM »
When I lived by myself, I would try to make make a batch of something on Sundays, and then freeze most of it in individual servings (like this: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/cooking-101/).

" I always freeze dinners in flattened Ziplocs. When you do it that way, you save time (by thawing whatever is frozen under running water for 60 seconds) and you save space. (After your soup or stew is frozen, you can file the bag in your freezer like a book in a bookshelf.)"

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2013, 12:25:30 PM »
Wow, Peanut Butter, awesome pics :D

I also like your advice on the recipes if you need only half of a product. Just make more and (here comes the magic word) freeze it!

By the way, I love French toast! Good one :)

impaire

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2013, 03:14:47 PM »
I just remembered that when I lived alone, I used to do Thursday soup... All the veggies leftover in my fridge on Thursday would go in a big soup pot, perhaps with some potatoes or beans as thickener (and I mean ALL veggies, even those you don't think of as soup material, like cucumber or salad; they work just fine, especially if you mix your soup). Thursday night dinner was soup, cheese and bread, and if I had leftover soup, I'd freeze it in individual containers.

Why Thursday night? I ate lunch at work everyday, and was used to getting out on Friday night, so that was the last home meal of the week before my grocery refill at the Saturday market :)

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2013, 12:50:34 AM »
I like that! I should use my blender more often, for soup and smoothies. Good way to get rid of fruit and veggies.

LalsConstant

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2013, 08:15:24 AM »
My solution is simple but not everyone can do it.  I cook the normal pan full or whatever it is and proceed to eat the same meal over the course of the next few days.  I eat nothing else until it's gone.

I fully understand this doesn't jive with some people though.   I admit I would prefer to eat something different every day but I like lazy thrift too much.

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #32 on: August 08, 2013, 02:20:05 AM »
That works too, but I prefer my meals a little bit more varied :)

ZiziPB

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #33 on: August 08, 2013, 04:49:56 AM »
@lalsconstant, I do that sometimes too instead of freezing portioned meals.  I'm usually fine eating my weekend leftovers for up to 4 days.  By Friday night, I usually want something else for dinner though ;-)

ZiziPB

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #34 on: August 08, 2013, 04:52:49 AM »
While this thread has been about groceries for singles, it's fun to see what families around the world eat.  Have a look at this:

What a week's worth of groceries looks around the world 
http://rawforbeauty.com/blog/what-a-week-of-groceries-looks-like-around-the-world.html

Silvie

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Re: Groceries for singles
« Reply #35 on: August 08, 2013, 05:53:41 AM »
Interesting! I hardly see any fruit/veggies in the US photo :S