Living on your own has its own range of #struggles. I remember getting off my college meal-plan and being convinced that I would cook every day. Every day soon turned into every weekend, which turned into every week, which turned into once a month. It was a downward spiral.
Month three, I decided enough was enough. I marched into the nearest grocery store and loaded up on all the supplies I would need for the month. Pasta one week, some stir-fry the next, I even planned for evening snacks. The trip was exhausting, and I was glad to have gotten enough out of it for the month — or so I thought.
Week one went very well. Fresh off the grocery shopping adrenaline high, I cooked up enough stir-fry for a few day’s lunch, and ate breakfast every. single. day. I only ordered in for one night’s dinner and began meal-planning for week two.
It was during this time that I found the most mesmerizing meal-planning resources imaginable. Some that still resonate with me were from Buzzfeed’s Tasty franchise. If you’ve never seen these before, I highly recommend investing a minute of your time.
Here’s an example of a typical meal-prepvideo. If you get as addicted as I currently am, I apologize — but also welcome to the cult.
Anyway, I came across some recipes over overnight oats, and came across the most amazing recipe forstrawberry banana oats. When I reached into the fridge for my strawberries, my heart sank. White fuzz had covered their surface — and my $2.69 had gone down the toilet.
I called my mother, furious. “Why didn’t you tell me that berries expired?”
“Everything expires eventually,” she said.
Somehow, this was one of the biggest shocks I’d had that semester. Reality was sinking in, and I was distraught. I also soon found out that I was not the only person that had fallen victim to strawberry fuzz. In fact, all sorts of berries, plenty of fruits, and a handful of vegetables were co-culprits. Friends came forth with stories of woe about soured milk, moldy bread, and spoilt cheese. It was mayhem.
So, what was the solution? A lot of research brought me to a few:
- Buy in
moderation. Grocery shopping is exciting, but there is no point
in picking up a month’s supply — unless you are exclusively
investing in non-perishables.
- Read for expiration dates.
This sounds stupid, because stores would never sell anything that
was going to expire so soon, right? Wrong. Yes, shelves are
restocked, but only so often. Even so, sometimes an item with a
later expiration date is hiding behind an older one. You can save
yourself a few days of shopping just by making sure you’re putting
enough time in between your date of purchase and date of
- Take a list with you. To
get back to the point made in tip #1, shopping is fun, and it’s
tempting to buy things you don’t need. So go with a clear idea of
what you need, and keep away from things that are just going to
collect dust on your shelf. Don’t know what you need? That brings
me to the next point.
- Brainstorm meal-prepping BEFORE
you go shop. Meal-prepping is great, but usually requires a
specific amount/set of ingredients. Websites with meal-prepping tips
usually have the entire bulk quantities listed out for your
convenience, so use that to your advantage. If you know you only
need three bananas for your overnight oats, and that you never eat
them for breakfast, ONLY get three bananas.
- Throw away old things before
they get too funky. Some expired items like to masquerade as
fresh ones, which means you might end up having “good” milk in
your fridge when you really need it for your cereal. Check on what’s
in your fridge and in your pantry and make sure you don’t have any
guests overstaying their welcome.
- Budget! I know sometimes I end up going to the store and looking only for the cheapest of the cheap or being super unsure about whether to invest in the brand or the future of my wallet. I found that setting aside some money for groceries for the week helped me keep track of how much I needed to allocate towards each of my ingredients, and even where I could splurge a little (like that time I treated myself to avocados). I put my own budget together after going a couple weeks in a row and coming up with an average. I also compared my budget to the budgets of the videos/blogs I was following.
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I hope these tips help you in your future grocery shopping endeavors, and that you find tips and tricks of your own. Good luck to you, and happy adulting!