You won’t even recognize these strategies once they become commonplace | Photo by Cottonbro on Pexels

Shopping for One: Incorporate These Actionable Tips Beyond Budgeting

Take care of your grocery spend, food waste, and healthy eating

Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke
5 min readNov 8, 2021


Living alone comes with its very own unique set of challenges. And when you’re caught up with doing everything on your own — not to mention all of the thinking — paying particular attention to groceries tends to rest towards the back of your mind.

Pushed back behind fixed costs, such as utility, home, and loan expenses, saving money at the grocery store can seem like just another weekly chore. What a bore.

But here’s the deal: No matter what your budget or diet entails, you always have the best intentions of money saving, even with healthy eating added in. Or you give it your best shot — that’s what counts.

With, however, no one around to look out for you — to hold you accountable with checks and balances — a discarded whole head of cauliflower or several mouldy slices of bread is often how the story goes.

It surely isn’t too kind on the wallet or the environment, while also morphing into a habit over time, yet you can make the world of difference to your overall food lifestyle with these easily employable tips and tricks — no crunching of numbers involved.

Make Friends with the Grocery List and Follow It

A list to add to your already busy list of things to do? Great.

But look at it this way: It’s easily the easiest one of them all.

Often easier said than done, however, there are a lot of independents out there who simply forget when it’s time to stock up again without the formal document created. To which, there’s perhaps an element of procrastination involved.

Mom and dad aren’t around either: Their crumpled piece of paper, crossing out item after item through the maze of aisles, is truly a rare city sight to behold. But the trip down good old nostalgia lane is a sight for sore eyes.

When was the last time that you actually saw someone with a grocery list in their hand?

Besides keeping track of items, whether on paper or by phone, your list will importantly protect you from incidental and impulse purchases. You’ll be guided by this document, helping you to keep within your means.

By the same token, there’s a smaller chance of you becoming sidetracked in the store. Because, at the end of the day, you really don’t want to spend any more time wandering through aisles and shelves than necessary.

On that note, if you end up shopping on an empty stomach, your list will also help to stave off temptations of the unhealthy snacking kind.

If you’re familiar with the layout of your store, structure the items on the list according to the order in which they appear through the aisles. You’ll move more efficiently while avoiding chancing upon those sneaky impulse items — maybe not your ex, however.

Be Inspired by the Food that You Want to Eat

What better way to stick with a list than to include things that you’re genuinely interested in — what you’re in the mood for. This is the added impulse that you need.

The source of inspiration could be an Instagram post, a takeout menu, or even a word of mouth — a coworker mentions her tasty leftovers from last night’s dinner, for example.

It sounds like common sense — to eat what you want — yet it’s easy to forget about how easy it is to fall into the trap of going for weeks on end with less-than-exciting lists and repetitive meal plans.

Think outside the box with different cuisines or “hero dishes” to punctuate each week — bursts of flavour intrigue.

Seasoning with the Seasons

It’s an excellent time to enjoy fall produce and its flavours. And what better way to celebrate than to embrace the unique tastes of American Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner.

Chances are you won’t be hosting the banquet all on your own, so why not come up with a few dishes that take inspiration from its warm and comforting flavour profiles?

It’s not a matter of cooking Thanksgiving recipes per se, but if you do you will most certainly get some good practice in leading up to the event. Find out what works and what doesn’t, tweaking here and there, and your offering might just be a crowd favourite.

Fall is also the perfect time to fall in love with rosemary, thyme, and sage — beautifully fragrant and savoury herbs synonymous with the Thanksgiving feast — that lend themselves so well to the bounty of fall squashes and root vegetables.

Outside of the season, they’re herbs that would otherwise normally be difficult to distribute across meals during the weekly meal roster. But now’s the perfect time to apply them to a variety of recipes without chancing them to the compost bin.

Fruits are also a leading example of sticking with the seasons. Cantaloupes, peaches, and pineapples are what you might be craving — and they’re right there when you walk into the grocery store — but they’ll affect your monthly grocery bill.

Aside from saving money, seasonal fruits and vegetables simply taste better. And you can, indeed, buy more of them in bulk to freeze for later, which is a great way to stretch your dollar.

Start Online

It can sometimes be overwhelming to stand before product after product in a space of many people, comparing, making decisions, and pushing a cart — and it’s especially hard when anxiety kicks in.

And yet, with newsletters and flyers sent straight to your mailbox, your browser is already a great place to start by scanning items right from home. In fact, the grocery store has already done a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Their flyers are designed to not only save you money, but also to add value, practicality, and excitement to the way you conceive of your weekly meal plan and shopping list.

They’re almost like a grocery cheat sheet.

Most flyers are also digitally optimized, allowing you to click on them to add items directly into your cart, in addition to providing more product information. You can then simply start with selecting items from the flyer, followed by whatever else you may need.

Not only will you have checked over the flyer — or multiple flyers — but you will also have an informed shopping list to work from. You’ll know about which deals and discounts to take advantage of before you even set foot in the store.

Make sure to also use the store’s app, if available. You’ll have the items conveniently saved to your phone with photos, details, and pricing attached — incredibly helpful. Plus, you may even be able to save regular purchases as lists, which makes it a whole lot easier for you to monitor price changes.

It’s a workflow that will give you a better view of products and prices, allowing you to crosscheck and compare to always find the cheaper option.

Related: Stretch Your Veg: Best Practices for Storing Your Produce



Jarvis Wai-Ki Clarke

With an appetite for words and a curiousity to follow a story, I love exploring the kitchen and the home as much as the outdoors, photographing along the way.