In Part 3 of our Healthy Eating series, we are looking at the challenge of grocery shopping for one. As many of us transition from two to one, our shopping habits must necessarily change to accommodate our needs. At the same time, though, we must maintain our nutritional requirements, plan and eat a balanced healthy diet. With a little planning, and some creativity, grocery shopping for one can be easily accomplished.
Step 1: Fruits and Vegetables – Buy the smallest quantity you can at any one time. Buy two apples, not a dozen. Purchase one head of garlic, not an entire rope. Adjusting from a lifetime of bulk buying will take some conscious effort but if you’ve followed a meal planning routine, you should know exactly how many tomatoes and how much zucchini you need for a given week. Purchase that amount and no more. Though slightly counter-intuitive, you may want to look at changing your shopping ritual to more than the standard once a week – especially for perishable items like fruit and vegetables. These should be the mainstay of your diet and you want them to be fresh when possible. While some fruits and vegetables have a week or so ‘freshness’ time frame, others like bananas are really only great for a couple days. Consider this when making your purchases. If you find that some of your fruit is starting to end its freshness date, chop it up into small sandwich size bags and pop them into the freezer. Use them for making smoothies! Vegetables ending their usefulness date can be chopped up into small sandwich size bag and frozen to be used for soups or stew at a later date. If you like bananas, here’s a great tip so you always have them at hand: peel a bunch, cut each banana into four pieces, put on a cookie sheet and freeze (this keeps them from freezing into one big lump). Once they are all frozen, store them in the freezer in a bag. Use them in smoothies for a great treat!
Step 2: Proteins – If you’re one of the lucky few who live near a butcher and fishmonger who still provides personal service, you are indeed blessed. If not, you can still do this! The trick to buying proteins for one is smaller packaging. If your butcher will do it for you, great! If not, purchase your meats, chicken, fish, shrimp, etc., fresh and unfrozen. When you get home, divide everything up into a single serving freezer bag. For instance, take the package of four chicken breasts and put one in each bag. Freeze. Do the same with fish, meat and shrimp. Freeze all in single use sizes. As you need them for your meals, take out only what you need. Note: remember, re-freezing anything, especially fish, shrimp, poultry or meat is never a good idea!
Step 3: Keep the staples on hand – Stock and maintain your pantry with all of your staples such as canned tomatoes, canned tuna, dry pasta and rice, broth, beans, dry spices, flour, bread crumbs, etc. Stock everything you might need to make a meal. As you use the staples, replace them so that your pantry is always well stocked.
Does grocery shopping still seem like a monumental chore? You’re in luck. There are a huge variety of options in today’s market that can alleviate the need for you to ever step foot into a grocery store. Some examples are:
- Amazon Prime – they are great for your paper products, staples, and cleaning supplies. Most Amazon Prime orders are delivered right to your door within 1-2 days. You can even set this up to auto delivery so that you don’t even have to remember to reorder!
- Most grocery stores have online ordering with curbside pickup. Just place your order and drive up to the store. Everything will be put in your trunk without you ever getting out of the car! This is great for anything on your grocery list from fresh produce to meat, poultry and fish, to canned goods and beauty supplies. You can specify brand names that you like and give parameters (example, please pick me the greenest bananas).
- Many grocery stores also deliver now! Whole Foods has a 2-4 hour delivery time; many others have same day delivery as well. Use their app, go to their website, or simply call the store to place your order. It really is that simple.
- Check out meal prep options such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef. These ingredient-and-recipe kit services send you a weekly box of all the ingredients you need to prepare your meals.
The whole experience of transition to one where there were two takes some careful planning and a willingness to be creative in establishing your new normal. Whatever choices you make, keep in mind – the goal is for healthy eating to maintain the best you!