Many books and financial counselors target their advice and tips to help families save money at the grocery store, but unmarried people need to save money, too. Using many of the same principles and strategies, a single person can cut his grocery budget. With a little preparation and a commitment to frugality, you can trim your food bill and redirect the money you save to other purposes.
Scan the advertising circulars published each week by the grocery stores. Many Sunday newspapers carry circulars and coupon sections. Advertised on the front page are loss leaders -- special deals that stores offer to attract customers. Note the loss leaders that you want to purchase, as well as other attractive discounts and specials that fit your food needs and your budget.2
Clip coupons from advertising circulars for items that you wish to purchase. Visit grocery-store websites to see if they offer printable Web coupons. Apply for discount or affinity cards at your local grocery stores; these often allow you to earn points and participate in money-saving coupon programs. Some stores will redeem coupons for double the face value, up to a certain amount, and offer other special promotions to customers who have store discount cards.3
Stock up on items when they are on sale. For example, if you see a store featuring a sale on ground beef, purchase extra amounts. Divide the meat into half-pound or pound portions and freeze them for future use.4
Build simple menus around the advertising circulars, using loss-leader items, coupon items and sale items that you plan to purchase. Consult a basic cookbook to plan two or three main meals that you will make each week. If you prepare meal recipes that serve four people, you can use the leftovers for additional dinners or for lunches, or you can freeze them in single-serving portions. Invest in a standalone freezer to hold bulk freezer items and frozen meals; by providing storage for perishable items purchased in bulk at lower unit prices, this initial investment can pay for itself over time.5
Make a shopping list that includes the ingredients needed for you to prepare your planned menu. Include on the list everything that you will need for the current shopping period and commit to sticking to the list without purchasing extras. Eliminate prepackaged and prepared foods from your list; replace these with ingredients that you can use to prepare meals from scratch. Avoid placing expensive processed foods on your shopping list. An organized shopping list helps you to avoid expensive, last-minute trips to the supermarket.6
Shop the stores that feature the sales you researched. Choose a time to shop when you feel rested and not hungry; doing so prevents the temptation to splurge on impulse purchases. Remind yourself that you are sticking to your list.7
Choose one day for meal preparation, if you anticipate a busy week. For example, plan to take a weekend afternoon to prepare the meals that you will eat throughout the workweek. After you finish cooking, split the meals into single-serving portions, refrigerating some and freezing others.