Something a few of my friends have been asking me to write about is how I save money as a single person. It has taken a lot of practice (I’m 27 and most of my friends got married 7 years ago), research and trial and error. Hopefully the next four tips are helpful, and I’d love to hear your tips, no matter how many people live in your home!
1. Make a Meal Plan and a Shopping List
The best way to avoid buying everything the grocery store sells is to go in with a plan (and make sure you’re not hungry!). If you create a meal plan in advance you will make sure you’re not buying unnecessary food, plus you can try to make meals that use similar ingredients.
Sometimes I type my meal plan into the “Notes” app on my iPhone, other times I use paper. If you love pretty lists, there are a ton of free meal plan printables out there. A new printable I like can be found here. This one has a spot for your meals AND a shopping list. Very efficient!
I have a love-hate relationship with coupons. I think they lead to people buying a bunch of processed foods they probably don’t need, but they also save me a ton of money when I shop. I get coupons from a couple places: Swagbucks (you earn “bucks” every time you redeem a coupon), the paper, junk mail and store specific iPhone apps.
3. Buy Meat in “Bulk.”
Meat and produce are of the most expensive parts of my shopping budget. What I like about store apps is they often have coupons for these items, which you don’t normally see printed.
I just saved a ridiculous amount of money thanks to the @Safeway app. Paid $55, saved $25. Including $1.99 sugar!
— Brittany (@Brittany_WMSB) September 5, 2013
To save money on meat I buy the “family size” packs. After I get home and put away the groceries, the first thing I do is separate these packs into meal-sized portions. I have learned that I really only need half a pound of ground beef for spaghetti/tacos so I will break a 3 pound pack of ground beef into 4-6 portions and put them all in the freezer. For chicken there are usually 7 chicken breasts in a pack. I will separate this into 2-3 breasts per bag and put it in the freezer.
I rotate the type of meat during shopping trips so that I’m not spending $20 in one swoop. Sometimes I can go three weeks without buying any protein! This saves me money because there’s often a discount when you buy the larger packs PLUS the meat can be up to $1 cheaper per pound!
4. Do your Store Research
Some stores in my area are known to be cheaper than others – but they also don’t carry the products I like best. I’m not an extreme couponer – I just like to save money. I try to support Union based or locally owned stores as much as possible, and I never shop at Walmart. I am sure I could save a lot more there, but instead I chose to shop at stores where I know I will get a good value, I am supporting businesses I like to support and that carry the products I want. (For example, I shop at Safeway a lot, and there’s one directly across the street from Metropolitan Markets. I can’t afford all my groceries from Met Markets but every once in awhile I head over for rare, ethnic or delicious baked goods when I’m done at SW.)
Being single means that I work full time and am fully responsible for every area of my life. I simply don’t have time to go to stores all over town to get the best deal. Therefore, after a couple months of trying different stores, I found the two that work for me and I almost exclusively stick to them.
How do you keep your budget in order (or have more cash for shoes) at the grocery store? Where is your favorite place to find coupons? Do you have a big family and yet are able to save at the store?
I’d love for you to share your wisdom here!