If you’re a single shopper and aren’t sure how to grocery shop for one person it’s easy.
Using my prior experience as a batchelor I’ll be sharing how I handled my grocery budget.
Using A Grocery List Will Save You Money
When I was single I wasn’t a huge fan of going to the local supermarket without a grocery list.
I don’t know what it was but if I didn’t plan my shops I felt like I was wasting more time than I needed to.
Not many single men want to hang out at the grocery store although ten years later I don’t mind it that much.
Most of my single friends at the time would rather eat at a fast-food restaurant or buy already-prepared meals which never really excited me.
I had my own house at the age of 21 which means I had a kitchen so I had no excuse to be spending money eating out all the time.
Over the years I’ve come to learn so much about grocery shopping that leaving the house without a list is like shopping without cash or credit cards.
I’ve also learned how much I should buy and what types of foods work best for the healthy meal ideas I was creating.
During my younger years in the UK I was an avid traveller and everywhere I visited I purchased a cookbook.
I made it my mission to cook recipes from the cookbook every week if even just one.
Over time I managed to learn how to cook for one person but I also enjoyed leftovers.
I recently received and email from a guy who is single and he sent me this: (Just for the record, It’s Mr.CBB, lol.
Help A Single Person With A Grocery List
Hi Mr. CBB,
I’m a single guy on my way to University and I am renting a room in a house where I have cooking privileges.
How do I go about grocery shopping and buying food?
I feel like an idiot asking my friends because they might laugh at me so I found your blog and thought maybe you could help.
I don’t really know how to cook but I don’t have the cash to be blowing on food out with my friends at restaurants.
I have 4 years of school to complete and I really want to get this under control because grocery shopping is not my favourite thing in the world to do, if you know what I mean.
A Grocery List Is For Everyone
When I read this question from Craig I realized that I haven’t really touched on grocery shopping and the single life.
I have always been a frugal guy especially when I was back home because I was paying down my mortgage and I wanted to be debt-free early like we are today.
Going out for food with my buddies was far and few because I kept myself busy working and if they asked I would just decline.
I had no yearning to spend money eating out and in the UK it’s not cheap to eat at restaurants.
Even my wife can tell you that the prices were shocking to her when she was visiting me.
Before I met my wife I would shop about 2-3 times a week only because in the UK most of us have a refrigerator the size of a beer fridge.
You can’t store much inside of it but I taught myself how to grocery shop and buy only the groceries I needed for that week.
Some of the best recipes I have ever created were when I was single.
My Single Life At The Grocery Store
I was able to eat very healthily on a limited budget because I chose to invest time into what I ate.
You couldn’t get me away from tortellini because it was cheap but also nutritious.
There was no homemade tortellini being made at my house but I was able to create beautiful pasta sauces and tortellini soup.
I was always experimenting and that’s how my passion for food grew over the years.
Typically I would grocery shop on a Monday so I would have food for a day or two and again on Wednesday and maybe Friday if I needed.
I would plan my grocery list so that I was making enough meals that would last me even if I had to put them in the freezer.
Packing my lunch always included a hot meal and I still do today.
I’m not the sandwich-type guy and probably never will be.
Single Guy Weekly Grocery Budget
When I was a single guy I aimed to spend about $40 a week on groceries so $160 a month.
Remember I wasn’t documenting and budgeting my money back then like I do today, I was simply frugal on a mission to spend less.
My monthly grocery funds seemed to be reasonable given grocery prices are much higher in the UK than in Canada.
At least that’s the way I left remembering it although my parents say it’s not getting any cheaper.
I was never a fan of wasting food so it was important for me to plan everything.
I was also using something similar to the Canadian version of the Neilsen home scanner << (affiliate) which saved me more money although we called the scanner something different.
It was pretty much the same thing and that’s how I scored my new refrigerator just before I sold my house which worked out great because I had just renovated my entire kitchen.
Just because you are single doesn’t mean you can’t save money as a couple or family would.
Coupons were hardly around so I never really bothered with them unless I saw one that I knew I would use.
The coupon craze never happened in the UK as it did in Canada and America.
My parents at times wished it had especially after they had seen how much we picked up for free or near free.
Grocery Shopping For A Single Person
I’m going to run down all the tips to help our single guy Craig get into the grocery store fast and home into his kitchen creating meals for one.
Before I start chatting below If I might direct you to my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide to read some of the most popular grocery posts on Canadian Budget Binder I think it will certainly give you a head-start.
Grocery shopping is not scary nor is it difficult but with some learning and experience you will become a professional grocery shopper in no time.
First things first, you need to know How much your grocery budget should be?
If you aren’t already using a budget you can download our budget for free and it’s not just for your groceries it’s for all your expenses which when I was a student or single I wished I had used.
My Typical Single-Life Grocery List
I love to eat and I am a big fan of eating lots of vegetables, grains, beans, and proteins so stocking up on my favourites each week was easy.
Below is a typical grocery list over the period of a month that I would put together to make some of my favourite meals along with a stocked pantry which I will talk more about below.
Create your personalized grocery list the same way by writing down all of the foods you like to eat.
Now that I am married we love buying bigger packages because it’s cheaper for our grocery budget.
Learning How To Cook When You’re Single
If you really want to learn cooking skills the best place is to make mistakes in the kitchen but taking a cooking class won’t hurt either.
Many Loblaws stores that have a kitchen upstairs often hold cooking classes that you can get involved in for a minimal cost.
Each store has a monthly calendar you can search to see what classes are available so contact your local store for more details.
Also, have a look online to see if there are any local free cooking classes at the community college or other companies you may be able to get involved in.
Another way you can build up your cooking skills is by watching YouTube videos or what helps us is by watching The Food Network.
There are so many cooking tips you can learn simply by watching and documenting what you see and then putting yourself to work in the kitchen.
You won’t ever learn to cook if you don’t first make mistakes, so don’t be shy get in the kitchen and see what healthy meals you can create on your own.
Cookbooks and Recipes
Another great way to learn about cooking is by reading a cookbook although with the internet so readily available you can get into more detail with online videos.
The cookbook seems like ancient history to most people since the boom of the internet and food blogs but chefs continue to write them.
Don’t dismiss reading a cookbook though because there really is lots of great info inside them and many with photos. I have a nice cookbook stash at home.
Even Pinterest is taking the world by storm and is a great way to source recipes with photos.
If you don’t have any recipes in mind that you want to learn about cooking start thinking about food and do a recipe search.
I’m betting you will find all sorts of easy recipes that you would like to eat and create yourself.
Cooking for one doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you know what you want to eat.
I think too many people complicate cooking when all you really need are basic cooking skills.
Purchasing The Right Cooking Tools
Once you have your recipes you have to make sure that you have the proper tools to cook with.
If you need a crock pot, instant pot, air-fryer, frying pans, spatulas, forks, knives, pots, strainers, a grater, etc. buy them.
Now, don’t run out and buy all this stuff brand new because if you are single or a student like Craig you might not want to spend hundreds or even thousands to kit your cooking space with all the right tools.
Have a look at Value Village for second-hand items or even online at Kijiji or at garage sales this summer.
Make sure to inspect what you are buying as you don’t want frying pans that are all scratched.
You’ll also be amazed by what people will sell for cheap and keep your eyes open for those freebies because some people will just give you their old stuff, especially if they’ve upgraded and bought new.
When you find out the tools that you really love and use on a consistent basis over time you can replace them with quality items that will last you a long time.
The last thing you want to be doing is spending $800 on a pot and pan set if you don’t need to.
Your tools are your weapons in the kitchen and without them, it’s hard to create your meals.
Meal Planning Using A Grocery List
I wouldn’t have survived in my kitchen when I was single without using a grocery list and meal planning.
It may not sound like the manly thing to do but more men are cooking these days and women find men who cook to be sexy.
You might think it’s corny for a man to create a grocery list, meal plan, and prep meals but it’s not uncommon.
Strangely enough, the woman of your dreams might be over the moon excited to watch you do your thing and create a romantic dinner.
Until then you are still single so once you’ve sorted out your favourite recipes pick a few recipes that will get you by for the week.
This will ensure you have variety but you aren’t cooking more than you need to.
If you plan to go out with the boys for wings on Saturday night there’s one meal or an entire day’s meals gone if you don’t eat them.
Plan for that the best you can so you don’t over-shop.
Stocking A Pantry For The Single Shopper
If your pantry is bare you will need to stock it with grocery staples.
Once you start to buy the essentials it will make creating your grocery list easier.
You will also want to keep your pantry organized because this will help you when creating your grocery list for future shops.
Most people dread filling the pantry but if you keep your eyes open for sales this can easily be done.
Besides all you need to do is write what you recipes call for and any other products you want and buy them as you go along each week.
A stocked pantry may include pasta, spices, condiments, beans, oils, peanut butter, jelly, cooking spray, chicken cubes etc.
Creating A Single Person Grocery List
We like to print our free grocery list and then fill it in before we head to the grocery store.
Once we know the meals we will be cooking we look in the flyers to see if any of the products are on sale.
Some people like to look at the flyers first and then create their meal plan around what is on sale to fit their budget which is what we do.
Most times when I would shop I would look to see if there were any reduced products that I could use in my meals and replace something on my list.
If I did find something it was great because it meant more savings for me.
Sometimes I would even find the exact foods on my grocery list reduced which worked out great.
Keep your eyes open for products the grocery store wants to move out fast as they are near expiry.
By now you should already know how much you can spend so the rest should be a piece of cake.
When you are in the grocery store remember the perimeter of the store is your friend.
Once you head down the aisles it can get very tempting so stick to your grocery list as best you can.
Don’t get overwhelmed if you mess up, we all do.
No one is perfect but we try harder the next time or we make up the overspend the following month so the expenses even out in our budget at the end of the year.
Where Can The Frugal Single-Person Grocery Shop?
I never really had any grocery shops near me when I lived in the UK so I had to make a trip into the city to shop at the grocery stores that weren’t so pricey.
We have shops comparable to Metro and Sobeys back home which can run your grocery bill pretty high if you’re not careful.
Don’t be afraid to price match if the store allows it or even get rain checks if they are out of stock on a product that is on sale.
Money is money so be smart when you shop so you reap the rewards even if it is for a future grocery shop.
When you cook meals you are eating for life.
It’s not about shoving unhealthy food down your mouth it’s about healthy living and preparing meals that motivate you to cook.
If you aren’t pushing yourself to take care of your health you will never become a smart shopper.
What other tips can you share for Craig and the single grocery shopper?
Are there other pantry staples you would add to the list?
Leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.
If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.
2015 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $25 per month.
- 2 x Neilson Milk $3.97
- 2 x Tubs of Kale $4.99-pink sticker 50% off
- 2 x D’Italiano Bread Sale $2.99 each-pink sticker 50%
- 2 x Extra Old Cheddar $9.40 and $9.78- pink sticker 50% off
- Chicken Breasts $2.58 reduced (not sure of reg price)
- 2 x Manns Snap Peas $3.79 each-pink sticker 50% off
- Franks Red Hot Sauce $7.69
- PC Lemon Greek Yogurt 0% fat $4.29-pink sticker 50% off
- French Rib Roast $8.26 reg $20.37
- 6 x packs of ground pork $2.06, $2.04, $1.99, $1.96, $1.92, $2.63 (Reg: $7.28, $6.48, $7.07, $6.93, $6.68, $7.94)
- 1 x Halal Chicken Thighs $3.48 reg $7.01
- 5 x Chicken Breast strips $4.36, $4.01, $3.77, $3.69, $3.53 ($14.54, $15.50, $14.54, $16.67, $13.58)
- 6 x Turkey Breast strips $3.03, $4.16, $3.99, $4.22, $3.99, $3.73 ($9.67, $13.26, $11.92, $12.72, $13.67, $12.52, $13.58.
- 2 x Friulano cheese 500g Reg $9.99 sale $6.99 – pink sticker 50% off
Meat Savings Regular Price $183.30 we paid $66.82.
Total out-of-pocket $lots>>> $118.35- $8.05 stockpile $110.30
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 63742
- SCoupon PPAcanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Snap Groupon to date: $1.50
- Zweet to date: $1.50
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $1.50
GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
- Total to spend this month $213.47 ($26.53 overage from March applied)
- Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94
- Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $13.00
- Total in-store discounts this week: $150.17
- Total in-store discounts to date: $379.57
- Total spent this week: $110.30
- Total spent so far this month: $244.39
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: -$30.92
- Total left to spend for the month:- $30.92
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $244.39
Weekly Overview- Grocery Shopping
I know we went over this month and I really did think we had it in the bag but we couldn’t pass up this meat deal. The meat was reduced at Zehrs by up to 75%.
We will work hard in May to catch up and hopefully, no more sales will tempt us and we may have to use PC points if we need to shop again this month.