Plan ahead and make a list
Either right before, or the day before, prepare a plan of what you hope to eat throughout the week. Make a list with ingredients that you need based on that list. This is also a money-saving tip since by only buying what you need and what you will eat during the week, you will minimise waste. I make a weekly calendar on a piece of paper and schedule as many meals as I can (usually breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks) – that way I can see an overview of my meals for the week and easily make a grocery list.
Buy in bulk and stock up
My best tip for shopping on a budget is to buy in bulk. Even though you may only be buying for one, buying in bulk is still possible and very budget-friendly. I don’t buy fruits or vegetables in bulk since I know I won’t get through enough of them before they go bad, but I buy non-perishables in bulk. Think old fashioned oats, nut butter, frozen meat, quinoa, rice, dried or canned beans, popcorn kernels. Those are foods I always buy in bulk since it is much more budget-friendly and they will last quite a while.
Find recipes that serve one, or cook ahead for the week
If you look around at a lot of blogs, many of the recipes featured serve four or more. When you are cooking for one, that can be a lot of food, especially if it does not last long. I try to share single dish meals here so that you can cook for one and not have wasted leftovers. When I cook a meal that is multiple servings during meal prep, I plan on eating that multiple times throughout the week. So, if I grill chicken, I may grill a handful of pieces to have for dinners throughout the week. That way my cooking for that meal is done and all I need to do is pull out my meal from the fridge, reheat it, and I am set.
I actually didn’t believe in this tip until I started shopping for groceries on my own and realised that fruits and vegetables in season really are cheaper. Not only are they cheaper, but they also last much longer than when they’re not in season and taste better too. I buy a lot more fresh berries in the summer since they’re in season and I get creative with recipes to add them into my meals as much as I can to take advantage of it.
Invest in food storage
If there is one thing I hope to see on your shopping list for your kitchen it is food storage. I use food storage containers like they are going out of style, I swear! When I meal prep, I pull out all of my plastic containers and put everything I prep into them to have them already divided meal by meal, day by day. This saves me time during the week as I can just grab the storage containers I need for the day, throw them in my lunch box and head out the door. No need to organise anything in the morning – nobody has time for that, right?
Peek at what you already have before grocery shopping
This goes along with tip #1. Look through your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what you already have to avoid buying doubles or triples of anything you don’t need. Already have some fruit on hand? Don’t buy more than you plan on eating during the week since it will end up going bad before you get to it. Know what you have on hand and don’t buy more of it until you need it.
Utilise your freezer
I have always said, I wish my freezer and fridge would switch sizes, or at least my freezer be bigger. I utilise my freezer to its maximum by stocking up on frozen fruit, frozen vegetables, frozen meats, frozen waffles, etc. When I meal prep a lot of something, I will freeze what I know won’t be eaten throughout the week, so my freezer can definitely fill up. This is great for those weeks when I don’t have a lot of time to meal prep, since I know I have some food available in the freezer that just needs a little bit of thawing or a few minutes in the microwave to be ready.
Leave wiggle room
There will be plenty of times that friends decide to go out to eat, so I always leave wiggle room into my weekly meal plan. I may only prep a few dinners, just in case I end up going out with friends – that way I don’t end up wasting food. Or I plan to have some of my frozen meals from tip #6 to have in case a dinner out ends up not happening. Having that wiggle room in my plan allows me not to stress about meal prepping every meal for the week, and allows for random outings to happen.
Source: Lean, Clean & Brie