Grocery shopping when you are cooking for one requires a bit more creativity and resourcefulness than when you are cooking for two or more. Many grocery store items are packaged for families, and recipes are often sized for multiple servings. This can result in excessive leftovers and food waste.
However, shopping for one doesn't have to be harder than shopping for a crowd, says Edwin Bonfil, a wellness education specialist with Sharp Rees-Stealy.
"When you are shopping for one, you only have to think about your taste preferences and your dietary needs," he says. "Everything that I buy at the store, I know I like and will integrate it into my diet plan."
How to shop when cooking for oneBonfil offers a few simple tips for those looking to stretch their food budget and avoid waste.
Visit the market more than once a week
- Buying meat and produce as you need them allows you to pick from the freshest food available and avoid spoilage.
- Individually wrapped items, such as frozen chicken breasts or cheese slices, can be used as needed.
- Single-serving items, such as yogurt, are portable and pre-portioned.
- Frozen foods, such as frozen vegetables or fruit, last longer and are convenient for weeks.
- Cuts of meat and poultry can be selected for size and individually packaged.
- Deli meats and cheese can be ordered in smaller quantities than found in packaged goods.
- Prepared salads can be purchased by the single serving.
Shoppers worried about their food budget might wonder, is it more expensive to buy individually packaged items than to buy a larger size and use it over a longer period of time?
"It is more expensive to buy individually packaged items," says Bonfil. "However, if you buy larger size items and they spoil, you may be paying for it in food waste. You can still buy larger packaged items if they are shelf-stable, such as brown rice, quinoa or beans," he says.
How to cook when eating for oneNow that you have your appropriately sized items at home, you're ready to cook. How can you prepare the right portion size to avoid overeating? Bonfil has a few tips for this as well:
- After cooking, immediately portion out the food into covered containers instead of serving from a large container.
- Use measuring cups instead of serving utensils. This will increase your awareness of how much food you are having.
- Use smaller (think appetizer-sized) plates when eating.
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables every time you eat.