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Cooking and shopping for one is about a million times EASIER than doing it for a family! If you really think about it, when you had kids at home you just never knew how much of something they would eat, or whether they would suddenly turn their noses up at something they had eaten happily the week before. Trying something new was a total shot in the dark. How many boxes of cereal did you throw out because they saw it on TV and begggggggggged for it until you gave in, but then they took one bite and said, "Yuck!"?
Your nutrition tracker is a great tool to help you save money. Use it along with the sale flyers from your grocery store. One night a week, sit down with the ad and your computer. See what fresh fruits and veggies and what meats are going to be cheap that week, and then do a search for healthy recipes using those ingredients. Then input it all into your nutrition tracker, and use that to make your shopping list. You can decide for yourself whether you want your whole week completely planned down to the last apple and carrot, so you make sure you use everything, or whether you'd rather just say, "I need 8 servings of fresh fruit" and then decide at the store what fruit it'll be. When I was on an extremely tight budget, I planned six weeks at a time, and in six months I only threw out one lemon, a bruised apple, half a bunch of cilantro, and some celery. Everything else got used, and I spent just under $300 for groceries in those 6 months. I don't like it because I like more flexibility to change my mind about what I want to eat on a particular day, but it's certainly do-able.
When I was single, I kept things like pre-cut bags of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and tubs of hummus in the fridge. If I really didn't want to cook (which was often...I was in college at the time) I could have that, some Triscuits, and maybe some low-sodium turkey for dinner and be set. Just knowing that was there kept me away from the drive-thru.
Now, I try to set aside one night per week where I can do a lot of prep work for the week. I'll make a batch of taco-seasoned beef to have on wraps or make nachos with, I'll bake chicken and shred it to have on salads, etc. We have very, very simple meals that can be thrown together in about fifteen minutes. Salad with chicken, burritos, etc. My husband and I work several jobs apiece, so things have to be quick.
If not now, when?
Don't the foods start to defrost while you're working your way round the rest of that huge store?
I always do frozen last. fruit/veg, dairy cooler, meats, run in an aisle when needed, then frozen and home. The reason is I buy clearance/sale meats so I don't know what I need in the aisle until I found what I want for the protein.
I put stuff that needs to be cold in insulated bags at checkout. I'm half a block from the store so it works.
1st Goal: 18lbs by June 1 - Met goal on 4/28
2nd Goal: Onederland by July 31
I go grocery shopping once/week and I eat a LOT of fresh stuff. I generally stick to the same meal plan throughout the week though so I typically buy the same things time after time.
My usual list is:
Spinach and a head of romaine
Natural PB (every 2 weeks or so)
Canned tuna (as needed)
Canned black beans and corn
Frozen boneless/skinless chicken breast (every 2 weeks)
Frozen fish (tilapia/swai fillets)
Then I'll add things in as needed like shredded cheese for salads, bread, oatmeal, coffee, etc.
I'll make a big salad and then just add in protein as needed throughout the week.
I've been cooking for one for almost 30 years now. I always have fresh fruit and veggies, supplemented with frozen, and I almost never eat that is pre-packaged or prepared. (This has less to do with me being such a healthy eater and more to do with the fact that I live in developing country and there are not a lot of options available).
Breakfast is fruit and a protein--cheese, peanut butter, leftover chicken.
Lunch is generally some sort of salad--either a green salad with chicken or tuna on it, or Greek salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta, chickpeas and olives in a red wine vinaigrette. Otherwise I have leftovers.
On the weekends I make something in the slow cooker and portion it out into freezer containers. I'll have that meal two times the first week, and then eat it at least once a week until it is gone. Yesterday I made black beans. They will be eaten with rice and a chicken breast tonight for dinner, tossed into a salad for lunch, and probably used inside a burrito at some point. I make chili a lot, and soup, usually either white bean or butternut squash. Once you've made meals for a couple of weeks, you've got a nice rotation of food in your freezer that you can thaw and reheat easily. I do the same thing with grilled chicken breasts--make a batch and freeze them; they thaw perfectly.
Most produce lasts at least a week--maybe not bananas--but apples, oranges, plums, they are all fine. Aside from lettuce and tomatoes, you can keep veggies for a couple weeks--cukes, carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes, squash.
When I lived in the States and had access to more prepared foods, I used to go to Whole Foods and buy a rotisserie chicken and a big salad from the salad bar once every couple of weeks. The salad, as long as it wasn't dressed and didn't have any really wet ingredients on it, lasted at least three meals, and the chicken ended up in salad, soup, burritos, etc all week. I rarely buy bread, except pita bread, mostly because I would eat the whole loaf, however, if you like to have a sandwich once in a while, you can buy individual rolls in the bakeries of most supermarkets.
If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out. ~~Jean Kerr
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~~Anais Nin
Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks. ~~Marilyn Wann
Slightly off-topic but I'm surprised at the idea of anyone doing the frozen aisles first. Don't the foods start to defrost while you're working your way round the rest of that huge store?
In almost all British supermarkets, the frozen goods are furthest away from the entrance, so they're generally the last thing you pick up before heading to the tills to pay.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it -
I am now cooking for one. I cook the same way I used to cook for many (sole Rest Home Cook for up to 40 people.) I bulk cook and then freeze in single serve containers. I have a month's worth of a variety of meals in the freezer, and all I need do is cook some extra veges to go with it. The meals are mainly casseroles (Lamb Moroccan style; Apricot Chicken; Chicken/Leak/Mushroom; Gingered Beef; Bacon/Cabbage/Mushroom Casserole, and Pork) soups, and spag/bol. The beauty of doing this is that you can save money by taking good advantage of the meat and veges on special. (I hardly ever buy meat at the normal price) and you only have one lot of power/gas to pay for. If I am in a hurry or really just tooooo tired to cook extra veges, I just heat one up and have it on good wholegrain toast. I am still getting my veges in because they are loaded with veges.
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I have had trouble with this in the past. Lately I have been planning meals a few days to a week in advance and going to the store to get fresh fruits and veggies every few days. Thankfully I have a farmers market on my way home for work so it's convenient.
Meat I buy on sale and package it into single servings and freeze, that's a great way to safe money too. You can pull out the meat the night before according to what you plan to eat.
I also have my freezer stocked with some frozen veggies. If you're buying fresh fruits and vegetables just make sure to buy them according to how quickly you want to eat them. If it's a few days later buy something that's not ripe yet so it doesn't spoil as quickly.
I have been eating a lot of greens as well and wash and repackage them after I get home.
Good luck, you just have to find what works best for you!
I agree whole heartedly with what everyone else has said, and I have a few tips for you as well:
- While we are a family of two (DH and myself, plus a cat), we only shop at Costco once per month, no other places.
- We keep track of how much we spend on everything for that trip, using my phone's calculator as we go along shopping.
- We do frozen foods first because it's the first aisles generally, buying a few prepackaged meals (very few, generally pizza, garlic chicken and veggies), then add in any meats (chicken mostly) and frozen veggies we might need
- Then we do refrigerated, to include milk and any veggies they keep there (spinach, berries mostly)
- Then we do the middle aisles, including pastas and canned fruits/veggies, and bread
- Lastly, we do the other fruits and veggies: apples, oranges, bananas, bell peppers, potatoes
- We round out with necessary household goods (toilet paper - lasts us a year; cat litter and food; health and beauty)
- Watch your sweets. We don't purchase anything that I can make from home from scratch (so most sweet breads, cookies, cakes, etc). We do buy chips, that's our downfall :) And it's only 1 bag of Kettle Potato Chips and 2 bags tortilla chips (some of this is reserved for nachos night once a week.
Following the plan above, for 2 people and one cat, we only pay $125 A MONTH. That's it. Eat your fresh fruits/veggies first, then frozen, and finally canned (as they have longer shelf lives and have lots of salt). Make sure to eat fiber. I eat 100% of my daily fiber (2 Fiber One bars for snacks and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast) - I have consistently lost a pound or more of weight per week when I follow this plan (I add in 30 minutes of exercise and drink all of my daily water allotment as well).
We eat simple meals because our budget can't allow for fancier meals. It is entirely possible to lose weight and keep your budget small. If I can keep it to $62.50 (or so, minus cat stuff if you don't have pets) per month for one person, so can you :)
Go to your library and check out cookbooks on Cooking for 1-2.
Big Batch Cooking is also very popular. Get some of these recipes to learn the techniques to freeze individual portions of your favorite foods.
Also buy vegetables and fruits frozen, in cans, and fresh.
Use up the fresh in the earlier part of the week and the frozen/canned later in the week.
Buy some bananas ripe and others green for later in the week. (this works for other produce as well).
Use the more perishable fruits and veggies (greens, berries) early in the week and save the hearty versions for later in the week (cabbage, turnips, carrots)
(And when I say earlier and later---I actually am referring to your shopping week)
Your SP Registered Dietitian
I think shopping every couple of days is a great idea. Plan your menus for two days, buy exactly what you need for those meals and there shouldn't be any wastage.
I'm terrible at making enough food for one person for one meal so I always make double and then freeze one portion (or put it in the fridge and just eat it the next day).
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it -
frozen veggies: they stay fresh longer, you can portion out a large bag into single meal servings (freezer ziplock bags) as soon as you get them
frozen fillets of meat (chicken, fish): cook one at a time
proportion 3 days worth of green salads in containers
batchcook and portion out individual servings to freeze
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Thanks Nirerin....I will get my grocery list together tonight and see how it goes....The frozen/can veggies sounds good and I will buy only one or two fresh fruits at a time and use before they go bad and buy the frozen fruits to last over a week or so.....Have a great week....
frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables can be great ways to keep them on hand without wasting them. before you shop for fresh, look at how many servings you already have. if you have enough servings for a day or two or more, skip the shopping trip for right now and use up what you have. also, when you do shop put back half of what you grab [volume wise] until the point where you aren't throwing stuff out. when you're continually dipping into your canned/dried/frozen stash is when you can start buying fresh in greater quantities. also pay attention to what you're buying. fresh berries go bad a lot more quickly than apples. if you prefer more of the easy spoilers, you will have to shop more frequently. if you like the hardier ones as well, make a little rule along the lines of only keeping four fresh kinds in the house at one time, and only one of those four can be an easy spoiler. so you can have apples and watermelon and cantaloupe in the house with strawberries, but you can't have raspberries and blueberries and strawberries because they will all go bad on you.
another thing i find helpful as a singleton is making ingredients rather than meals. if i cook up a cup of plain rice, nothing else in it it's easy to make into different things. so tonight i'll have 1/4 of it and make it into dirty rice. tomorrow i could do fried rice with another 1/4 of it. russian salad will be lunch the next day. the final 1/4 i might add steamed cauliflower and broccoli and cheese to.
meals don't have to be elaborate five course dinners for six. if you like asparagus, have some steamed, perhaps with a little curry powder and baked chicken or tofu. if your meal needs a little more heft you could add rice, pasta or the baked root vegetable of your choice.
soups are great for making big batches of that you can portion out and freeze. thaw a portion and pair it with a salad for an easy dinner. curries are also wonderful for this. and the best part is that there are so many soups and curries out there that you can use up just about any vegetable you need to. my basic curry recipe is to start cooking some lentils in a pot. chop up whatever veg i need to use up and start adding it to the cooking lentils in whatever time it needs to get done [so potatoes would go in right with the lentils and cook them whole time, zucchini would go in right as the lentils are finishing cooking]. add some milk and curry powder and it's curry. it takes peppers, onions, eggplant, asparagus, greens, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, winter and summer squash, carrots, whatever i have on hand and need to use up and it tastes yummy. lasagna is another good "use it up" dish. get a few basic recipes like this down and all you need to do is start cooking up a big batch when things start to turn. freeze in portions and you've gotten two birds with one stone.
-google first. ask questions later.
I have tried so many ways to shop and eat for one but it just never seems to work...I just lose my willpower b/c I get so frustrated so I go back to stopping at McDee's or Wendy's or whatever because I make myself crazy trying to buy right and eat right at the grocery store but I end up wasting all the great fruit and veggies b/c I get so tired of trying so I get discouraged and confused and just order out...I'm wondering if I went grocery shopping every other day and only bought for a couple days at a time if it would be less confusing and less stressful...I have raised 5 children, made dinner every night but that was in the 60's and 70's so eating healthy had not come on the rise yet...I made lots of pasta dishes and bread and milk and margarine and no, none of us eat margarine any longer.. I love asparagus and most all greens, I know how to cook, I just don't know how to cook or shop for.one....!!!!.....Please any suggestions would be so helpful....