Grocery shopping on a budget for one person is not always as easy as it may seem.
When you’re living alone or traveling for work, grocery shopping can become an expensive chore. If you don’t get it right, you can end up spending way more on groceries than you should for one person.
Not to mention the fact you will then need to prepare & cook the food. Oh, and then you have to wash the dishes. That’s a lot of effort to feed one person, don’t you agree?
There are times when eating out or ordering fast food sounds so much easier. The problem is, eating out every day will get expensive, quickly!
If you’re on a tight budget or if you’re savvy with your grocery spending, understanding how to shop on a budget can help you to save hundreds per year!
Over the years I’ve learned many grocery shopping tips that have helped me to save a lot of money & time; hopefully, these tips will help you too.
You should also read my post on how to drastically cut expenses, for more money-saving ideas.
How much should one person spend on groceries?
The average American spends over 6% of their yearly income on food. On a ‘normal’ budget for one person, it cost’s around $250 per month.
For one person on a ‘tight’ budget, using the advice shared in this post, it costs between $100-$150 per month.
In extreme budgeting cases, it’s possible to spend under $100 on groceries per month.
Now, of course, this will depend on your circumstances. How much you earn, where you live, and your diet will all have an impact on how much your monthly food budget will be.
Shopping on a budget is all in the preparation
If you’re serious about grocery shopping on a budget, then it’s important to know how much you’re going to spend and what you’re going to buy, before you set out to the store.
Create a shopping list
There is nothing worse than turning up to a supermarket or grocery store without a shopping list.
Preparing a detailed shopping list will help you to stick to your budget and avoid those impulse purchases. It will also help you not to forget anything. Forgetting something will mean you will have to make a second trip to the store, increasing your chances of overspending.
Research for the best prices
Once you have written out your grocery list, use google to find the best prices for all the items on your list. You may see that different grocery stores have the same items for a lower price. You may also discover a cheaper brand that your store sells that you didn’t know about.
Eat before you go grocery shopping
When you’re on a tight budget, it’s never a good idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
You’ll be surrounded by temptation; delicious desserts, cakes, chocolate, sweets, pastry & more! I’m feeling hungry just talking about it!
Going shopping on a fully satisfied stomach will help you to resist the expensive junk foods that you crave when you’re hungry.
Stock up with the grocery staples
You should always stay stocked with the food staples (the main foods & condiments you should always have in your kitchen). Here are a few food staples to consider:
- Cooking oil: vegetable oil, coconut oil or cooking spray
- Sauces: Ketchup, mustard, barbecue, siracha
- Rice: White rice, brown rice quinoa or couscous.
- Spices & seasonings: Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, etc.
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.
Not only are these food staples used regularly for cooking, they usually have a long life-span; which means you can buy in bulk and store in your kitchen for months.
Stock up on these food staples every 3-6 months. This will bring down the time and bill cost of your monthly grocery shopping.
Suggested Read: 10 Grocery Store Staples
Buy groceries in bulk when you can
Grocery shopping on a budget for one person can sound easy. I mean surely shopping for one person is cheaper than shopping for a family. Well, that’s not always the case.
Most supermarkets & grocery stores will offer discounts for bulk buying products.
You’ll often see offers such as; buy 1 get 1 free. Or, family size packaging that works out to be a much better deal than the single size packaging.
Because of this, shopping for a family can be way more cost effective.
So, what’s one to do when grocery shopping on a budget for one?
Find the largest bulk savings
Well, you should aim to buy in bulk where possible. Prioritize food with the most significant bulk savings; this will help you to save as much money as possible.
Foods such as meat & fish will usually have the largest bulk discounts.
Find friends & family members who also live alone. Make a plan to buy your meat & fish together. This will allow the two of you to benefit from the bulk savings.
Freeze your food
When you’re on a tight budget, your freezer is your best friend.
Find the best freezer-friendly foods and then buy quantities in bulk to get a discounted price. Be careful not to buy more food than your freezer can store. Wasted food will eat into your savings.
Here are you are a few freezer-friendly foods that have substantial bulk savings:
- Whitefish; such as cod or tilapia
- Ground chicken, beef or turkey
- Frozen vegetables; such as broccoli, peas, corn & spinach
- Frozen fruits; such as berries & mango.
Watch this video for more grocery bulk-buying tips:
Spending more on groceries can save you money
When you’re on a tight budget, sacrificing on quality & taste to save a few bucks may sound like a wise idea, but it’s not always the case.
The reason being is that you need to enjoy the food you buy. It needs to satisfy your tastebuds and your hunger.
If it doesn’t, you’ll be tempted to eat out more often; which will eliminate any savings you made. You could even end up spending more on fast food.
This is why it’s important sometimes to splash out those extra few dollars on the foods that taste better and keep you satisfied.
Don’t forget to treat yourself
There’s a difference between being on a tight budget and being tight.
Saving money should be a lifestyle, an enjoyable one at that! Spending a few extra bucks on a delicious doughnut or slice of chocolate cake can make all the difference.
It will stop you from spending unnecessary money in a dessert parlor, plus it gives you something to look forward to.
The key to grocery shopping on a budget is to make it as effortless and enjoyable as possible.
Watch Grocery Hauls For Tips
If you shop at the same store, buying the same brands every month, you could be missing out on some significant savings. That’s why I suggest watching grocery hauls.
You can find many awesome grocery haul videos on Youtube.
This is great for picking up new tips, hacks & supermarkets; as well as finding those lowkey brands you didn’t even know existed.
Here is an example of a grocery haul video:
Convenient is not always sensible
When grocery shopping on a budget for one person, it’s tempting to buy ready-made meals for one. They’re super convenient, quick and require minimal effort.
However, you’ll often find that you’ll be paying a premium cost for this convenience.
If you’re on a tight budget, stick to simple, versatile foods that you can make into a tasty dish within minutes.
Here are my favorite versatile foods:
- Eggs: scrambled, poach, fried, omelets, pancakes, etc.
- Rolled Oats
- Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
Suggested Read: The 10 Most Versatile Foods
Grocery Shopping For One FAQ
How much should I budget for groceries?
If you follow the advice above, you should be able to budget $100 per month for groceries ($50 every two weeks).
I suggest budgeting for an extra $20 emergency fund (call it a grocery buffer). This will come in handy for those months you happen to go over your budget; or for when you see a great saving deal that you can’t miss.
By having this buffer, it will help you to avoid any financial overspend and provide you with a peace of mind when walking around the supermarkets.
How can I spend less money on groceries?
With the tips in this post, you should be able to bring down your spend on groceries. If you want to spend even less money on groceries, try the following:
- Swap big brand names to store brand names.
- Go bargain hunting. Most grocery stores will reduce their food to make room for new stock.
- Use coupons.
Thank you for reading ‘The Complete Guide to Grocery Shopping on a Budget For One Person.’
What do you think? Did you find these tips useful?
Is there anything you think I should add? Or, maybe you have a question. Comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.