How to Save on Food When You Live Alone

by Mike on March 5, 2012


People are waiting longer to marry; in fact the average age of marriage in the United States is almost 26 for women and almost 28 for men. Many of these individuals, before marrying, decide to live on their own.

While living on your own offers autonomy and independence, it can be expensive, especially when many discounts seem geared towards those with a family.

Grocery stores in particular like to offer discounts when you buy in bulk, but the product may take a single person a year to use! However, there are ways to save on food costs if you are living alone.

  • Shop where you can buy the quantity of food you need. Most grocery stores are geared toward families who may want to save money with bulk purchases. If you typically waste a one pound bag of carrots because you can’t go through them quickly enough, try shopping at a store where the produce is loose and you can choose the amount you would like. Another option is to shop the salad bar. Yes, you may pay more per pound, but all of the vegetables are already prepped for you and you will probably end up spending less than you would if you bought a package you couldn’t finish and had to waste the food.
  • Take advantage of freezer cooking. Freezer cooking is touted as a way for families to save money and time, but it can work just as well for singles. Simply make a recipe with 4 or 6 servings and freeze the extra in individual size portions. If you make a meal each night for 10 days and freeze the extra servings in individual size portions, you will have at least 30 meals in the freezer. Continue to do this each month to build a larger variety of meals, and you will no longer have to depend on expensive frozen food filled with a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce or get bored eating the same leftovers for a week.
  • Arrange a meal swap. Consider sharing meals with another single. This gives you a night off from cooking and lets you try new foods. My mom lives alone as does her co-worker, and they frequently bring in their leftovers from the night before. Then, the night they swap, neither one of them has to cook, and they get to try something new.
  • Look into unconventional programs. If you live near a college town, you may be able to pay for a food service. When I was in college, I lived in a co-op with 50 other people. Every night, 2 people cooked for 3 hours to make a dinner for all 50 people. There was a single man who lived on his own, but paid to eat at the co-op for dinner. It worked perfectly for him; he came from work, had a hot dinner, enjoyed conversation with the residents, and then got to go back to the peace and quiet of his own apartment.

Living alone can have plenty of rewards, and I highly recommend it. I enjoyed the time I lived alone in grad school, but it can be expensive. However, using a variety of techniques, you can live alone and save on food costs.

If you live alone, what are your favorite ways to save on food?

**Photo by Will Spaetzel**

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 101 Centavos March 11, 2012 at 7:18 am

When I was in college, ragu’ always got the freezer treatment. I used my biggest pot, and made enough to last me three to four weeks. Good list.

2 Amanda L Grossman March 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

When I was living alone I had such a great dining schedule. I would cook a delicious meal one night and eat it for three nights. Rinse and repeat. For me, it was fantastic. I didn’t care that I was eating the same dish several nights each week! And it certainly added efficiency in both time and money to my kitchen at a time when I was living in very expensive Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

3 John | Married (with Debt) March 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I like the meal swap idea. I’m also a big proponent of freezer cooking. Great stuff here. I’ve always wanted to start a retail store geared towards people who live alone (smaller loaves of bread, etc).

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