3 Foolproof Ways To Cut Your Grocery Spending To Just $20 A Week

This story was originally published on September 27, 2017.

Living as a single person in any city has its perks and its challenges. For me, one of the major downsides is money — specifically how much I spend on grocery shopping. Because as much as I can pinch my pennies in other areas of my life, shopping "vintage" or "thrift" grocery stores isn't exactly a thing.

Food expenses add up, especially when you aren't splitting those total costs with a partner or an S.O. — so for me, each week turns into a never-ending battle to spend as little money as possible on as much food as possible, without over-buying or succumbing to meal monotony in the process. Is such a thing even possible? Not only can it be done, but if you have the right tricks in place, you can get your weekly spend down to $20 or less. After experimenting with my fair share of cost and time effective meal hacking, I've narrowed down the top approaches for successfully slashing my weekly grocery bill. Scroll on fellow singles, for three tips to help you creatively cut back while still filling up, too.

Grocery budgets, diets, preferred food intake, and store prices will vary widely from person to person and region to region, so let these tips serve as helpful suggestions and not all-encompassing guarantees. And be sure to share your best single-serving hacks with us in the comments below!

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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Tip 1: Take The No-Cook Approach

This is an ideal approach for people who either don't enjoy spending cook-time in the kitchen, or for those who just don't have that time to begin with. But most importantly, this method is an effective and relatively hands-off way to streamline your purchases. Once you can establish a strong base of canned and jarred goods (e.g, nut butters, beans and other proteins) with lengthy shelf lives, you can then focus on fresh fruits, greens, and grains for quick and easy meal creation.

Curious as to how no-cook meals could work for you? We've got you covered with shopping lists, breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe ideas.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Tip 2: Repurpose 1 Pre-Made Ingredient/Dish

Repurposing one store-bought ingredient or dish for a week's worth of meals is another tested tip for cutting back on grocery shop costs — while ensuring none of the goods you got go to waste. (Throwing out underutilized food is like throwing out that crisp $10 you forked over to buy it.)

Need an example? I experimented with creating a week's worth of meals centered on a pre-made rotisserie chicken (I was able to pick one up for just $6.99). With the whole chicken set and ready in my fridge, I rustled up a smorgasbord of varying (mainly no-cook, to boot) recipes that lasted me through the week. The best part was that I also managed to keep my additional fresh ingredient shopping to under $15 total!
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Tip 3: Try A Meal Swap

I swear by this method as a nearly foolproof way to cut grocery costs in half. Whether you have a roommate, friend, or co-worker that you can rope into it — grab anyone willing and give a 1-2 week trial. Meal swapping not only means you will be able to split grocery costs, but it also means that you'll be able to split food prep efforts in half as well. (Not to mention the bonus excitement of day-to-day recipe creativity and variation!)

How it works? The two parties involved create a weekly/nightly schedule where one person is in charge of grocery shopping and cooking up to 3-4 meals a week. The meals can either be eaten for dinner with leftovers subbed in as the following days' lunches, or it can be a solely lunch-swapping situation.

Need a little more inspiration? Check out how my roommate and I were able to cut weekly grocery costs down to $20-$25 during our month-long swap.
written by Lucie Fink.
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