If you love flushing money down the toilet and wanting to set your own hair on fire, you should definitely look into living alone. There are few burdens of adulthood more frustrating than buying tons of food and throwing it in the trash along with your bank statement and sanity. This is made all the more maddening when you hate grocery shopping, but you have to do it roughly 30 times a week because everything goes bad and the world is a terrible place.
As someone who has lived alone in the middle of a city, I feel your pain. Luckily for us, the Internet is chock-full of food tips that will help us save time and money without also having to sell our souls to the Dark Lord.
1. Let’s start with grocery 101, shall we? Make lists, people!
Don’t be like me. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry without a list and then come home with nothing but cookies, cupcakes, and disappointment. Think of what you need to stock up on and write it down so you stay on track. (You definitely need 30 chocolate bars. Don’t let haters tell you otherwise.)
2. Plan your meals ahead of time.
While you can probably think of 30,000 things you’d rather do than sit and plan your meals for the week, busting out the planner will help you get organized so you know what you have on hand and what you want to do with it.
3. Keep your love of produce in check.
This is the hardest of all. To counteract those 30 chocolate bars, I always like to stock up on produce. It’s bright, it’s pretty, and it makes me feel better about my life choices. Sadly, this stuff just doesn’t keep. Be extremely picky about what you bring home, and be realistic about what you will actually be able to consume in a week. Food journaling is a great way to get a handle on how much produce you actually eat.
4. Get into a committed relationship with your freezer.
Let’s say that you went a bit overboard on the veggies. Have no fear, friends. Heat some water on the stove, blanch your little green friends, separate them into resealable bags, and freeze. You can also avoid that step completely by buying frozen fruits and vegetables. Only use half a loaf of bread in a week? Freeze the other half for later. Basically, I’m telling you that you need to worship your freezer. After all, this is where ice cream lives.
5. Live alone, but shop for two.
Stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are great when it comes to saving money, but there’s no way to go through food in bulk when you live by yourself. This is where your friends come in. Have a buddy who also faces this cold world alone? Go on a date to the grocery store. That way you can split the spoils of your trip (and the bill).
6. Stock up on staples.
When you get home from work and ultimately have to feed yourself, don’t resort to eating oatmeal for the tenth time in a row. If you stock your pantry with staple ingredients, you’ll have the building blocks you need to eat something that’s actually good for you every day. Focus on items that you can store for a long time, and foods that can easily be portioned to accommodate solo eating. Things like dry pasta, rice, quinoa, olive oil, vinegar, flour, and dry seasonings will serve you well.
7. Get inventive with ingredients.
It’s all about being creative, people. Try to come up with inventive new ways to use the ingredients you already have so that you can eat healthy meals and avoid wasting food. Easy tricks like using cauliflower or tortillas for pizza crust help you go through veggies if you have too many on hand, and allow you to scale down portions so that you don’t eat an entire four-serving pizza by yourself (unless you want to).
8. Become one with your muffin tin.
If you’re someone who loves eating healthy breakfasts, but you also wake up a half hour before you have to leave the house, muffins are great. There are tons of recipes out there that you can make in batches, pop in the fridge, and pick on throughout the week. Try things like single-serving frittatas and healthy bran muffins. Maybe just don’t eat them all in one day like I probably (read: definitely) would.
9. Downsize your favorite meals using ramekins and mugs.
A great way to keep your portions under control is to downsize your favorite recipes — both sweet and savory — in mugs and ramekins. Many recipes can even be made in the microwave!
10. Bring those leftovers back to life.
The thought of making an indulgent meal like a roasted chicken seems pretty gratuitous when you live alone, but here’s the thing. You can have your giant chicken and eat it, too. Treat yourself to big, elegant meals with the rest of the week in mind. Repurpose leftovers into new meals by whipping up some quesadillas, salads, and big ol’ pots of soup.
(via Gimme Some Oven)
See? Living alone doesn’t have to be a culinary nightmare! If we could just get someone to help us with those pesky rent payments, we’d be set.