6 Ways to Save When You’re Shopping for One

Photo (cc) by Sara Golemon

I spent a couple of decades raising – and feeding – six children. Then one day they were all grown and I found myself living alone. I had become an expert at shopping for a crowd on a tight budget. But would my tried-and-true saving techniques still work now that I was shopping for one? Or would I be doomed to buy high-priced individual servings for the rest of my life?

Well, I’ve learned that the quantities may be different, but some of the same principles still apply…

1. Shop the specials in the weekly flyers

No, I don’t run all over town to save 15 cents on a can of corn. But if I’m already heading in that direction, and ground beef is on sale for $1.50 a pound cheaper than the supermarket around the corner, I’ll make the trip and stock up.

I buy large quantities of ground beef and divide it into smaller serving portions. Then I’ll make meatballs and hamburgers and flash-freeze them so that I can pull out individual amounts when needed. Here’s how I do it…

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper. Put a single layer of food across the pan. (It’s OK if the items touch.) Put the pan in the freezer, uncovered. Leave the pan in the freezer until the food is frozen solid, about 4 hours. (To avoid freezer burn, don’t leave uncovered more than a day). Place the individually frozen items into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. This method also works great for chicken, berries, and cookie dough.

I’ll also head to Wal-Mart with the specials circled in all the local store flyers. Wal-Mart’s Ad Match Guarantee allows me to receive all my savings in one place. On my last trip, I saved $28 on everything from shampoo to soup and carrots to cake mix – and that was before any coupon savings.

2. Share expenses

Most single shoppers don’t need a case of toilet paper, yet it’s a necessity. Why not take advantage of special savings or warehouse prices and share the cost with other singles? This also works well with buy-one-get-one-free items and produce sold in large bags.

Of course, I never started a conversation with, “Hey, wanna split a pack of TP?” I have, however, offhandedly mentioned my savings strategies to friends and co-workers – and sometimes they want to learn how to stretch their budgets as well. Then I can say, “Hey, wanna split a pack of TP?”

Two of my friends each live in small apartments (700 square feet) where space is precious. There’s no way they could store large quantities of any item, but by combining our purchases, we save not only money but space. This also works well with buy-one-get-one-free items and produce sold in large bags.

3. Sign up for rewards programs

A new grocery chain recently moved into my neighborhood, and suddenly I was in the midst of a grocery war. The established stores sent out coupon books to their regular customers. For instance, by purchasing $10 worth of sale items (which I paired with manufacturers’ coupons), I received $14 worth of free food. I brought home $24 worth of groceries for just more than $6.

And, of course, I signed up for their rewards programs, which offer me coupons and special offers sent to my mailbox and inbox – and sometimes there are instant coupons issued at the checkout.

Two stores in my area even offer gas rewards with savings at the pump. For every $50 of groceries you buy, you save 10 cents per gallon. Now, for families buying carts full of groceries, these savings add up. But not so much for singles – unless you take my advice and share with friends and co-workers.

Now you’re not only saving on quantities that you’re splitting with other singles, you’re racking up rewards points!

4. Swap coupons

See a theme emerging here? Being single doesn’t mean being alone. I also talk to friends and co-workers about coupons. For instance, I’m long past needing diaper coupons, but a co-worker with a toddler desperately needs them. She, on the other hand, doesn’t need to color her hair. So she passes those on to me. I carry my coupons everywhere I go – because you never know where a conversation (and a coupon) might take you.

5. Shop at non-grocery stores for occasional savings

My local gas station sells milk for $2.39 a gallon – just a few cents more than the grocery store price of a half gallon. (I like cereal with milk as a snack ,and I’m a big milk drinker, so this works well for me.) Sometimes I make a special trip, but usually, it’s on my way to another errand. Recently, Walgreens was selling eggs for 99 cents a dozen, along with many canned items for 39 cents each.

6. Be flexible

Many experts preach making a list and sticking to it, but if I find a bargain that I (or a friend) could use, I’ll take advantage of it. For example, January and February are great months to stock up on holiday items like baking supplies on clearance. I recently purchased canned pumpkin – it’s not just for pie but also soup, bread, and the moistest cookies you ever tasted – reduced by 75 percent and food storage bags for 90 percent off. There’s no expiration date on the storage bags, and most baking supplies are good for years.

And whether you live alone or in a commune, check out 28 Tasty Tips to Save on Food.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
26 States That Won’t Tax Your Social Security This Year
26 States That Won’t Tax Your Social Security This Year

These states don’t tax any residents’ Social Security income whatsoever.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

7 Other Retailers With Free Prescription Delivery
7 Other Retailers With Free Prescription Delivery

Amazon’s new pharmacy is hardly the first to offer free shipping.

17 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
17 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

3 Easy Ways to Get Laundry Soap for Nearly Nothing
3 Easy Ways to Get Laundry Soap for Nearly Nothing

Are you washing money down the drain?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.