Grocery Shopping For One

Post By Sharon

When I became single again, I had to go from 26 years of making three meals a day from scratch for my husband, son and myself to feeding my single self. 

The first freedom was tastes, foods, and ethnic meals that I couldn't do when married. 

The second freedom was eating when and how much I wanted, even if a meal was pickles and aged cheddar chunks. 

Ultimately, it was weird making meals for just one person, but I got the hang of it. I'd like to share what I learned.

Everyone has different tastes, but one thing we have in common is a desire to make meals quickly, adapt items, and not have to overthink what to grocery shop for.

Dream items - 

Packaged oatmeal in packets
dried cranberries
bag of tangerines
peanut butter
bin of ready to go salad or spinach
whole grain bread
refried beans
cheddar cheese block (grate some, chop some into squares for snacking)
garlic herbed seasoning (get a ready mix of it on the spice aisle)
hot italian sausage
canned spaghetti sauce
spaghetti noodles
microwave rice bags or quinoa (tear top an inch and put in microwave 90 seconds) 

When you get home, consider cutting up celery and carrots into lengths that can stand up in a mason jar, fill with water and store. They last long! Divide meat into freezer bags by portion size. 
Packaged oatmeal in packets so you can easily pour into bowl, fill the bag to the water line (1/2 c) and pour in and cook 60 seconds in microwave. Add walnuts and dried cranberries. 

Think of breads in a new way. Instead of a loaf of bread and the resulting sandwiches, consider bagels, tortillas or a loaf of sourdough. These give you so many possibilities.

For tortillas, consider scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies for breakfast burrito, cheese crisp, rolled up refried bean and cheese burrito, greens and lunch mean with salad dressing rolled up sandwich.

For bagels, use them like open-faced sandwiches, with cream cheese and blueberries drizzled with honey for breakfast, cut into pieces and toasted for salad or soup croutons, with melted butter and garlic salt for garlic bread. 

The sourdough can be cut and toasted for croutons, open-faced sandwiches, dipping in a bean or cheese dip, sliced and toasted for breakfast, used for a ploughman's platter (plate with items like nuts, olives, grainy mustard, cheese, ham, tart apple, grapes, etc on it). 

Leftover meats or cheese on a salad are great, and a small salad piled up on your plate with your meal ensures you get your leafy greens, or use those greens from your container of salad greens in a smoothie with a tart apple, celery, cucumber, carrot, and fruits, ginger root, etc. for a smoothie.

Hot Italian sausage is one of my favorite meats to have on hand. I come home from the store, squeeze the meat out of the casing, put into a few freezer bags with small amounts so I can cook one up, add to spaghetti sauce to jazz it up, add to scrambled eggs for breakfast burrito, use in soups and pastas. 

Roasting chicken or sauteeing it and keeping it in portions for lunch sandwiches, salads, pastas, and suppers, is a super help. I get it with skin and bone so I can use those for a fantastic broth that I freeze.

Shaved meat... A technique I adore. Cut chicken or beef semi frozen against the grain so thin you can see light through it. Marinate. 

For beef I use teriyaki. For chicken I do olive oil, citrus, balsamic vinegar, sherry, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, salt and lots of pepper. Refrigerate and then I pour marinade in hot pan and cook a minute or two to concentrate and add meat which cooks in a few minutes. 

This chicken is great on salad or with salad greens rolled up in tortilla with Italian dressing or added to alfredo sauce and pasta, maybe add sun dried tomatoes, tossed with bbq sauce and put on toasted bun. Days of uses!

Breakfast for supper is just fine! 

You may not do the "square" meals you did when you were raising kids or living with someone, but rethink what a meal contains. Sometimes, I could sit down and eat from a plate of nuts, cheese squares, fruit, a hunk of Italian bread and a green side salad.

With microwavable rice bags or instant single-sized mashed potato bags, frozen veggies, salad greens, and a can of baked beans, you can have sides for meals. If you like to eat raw veggies, cut up carrots and celery in lengths that fit inside a mason jar, fill with water and store-they stay crisp well. 

The greatest gift you can give yourself when you live alone is to break free of the classic meal layout. If you really want pickles and a hunk of cheese, then supper it is! I found myself at times opening up a can of sardines, having it with a hunk of sourdough bread and some mustard for lunch. For supper, I would whirl up a smoothie and have an avocado. Just be aware of getting the nutrients and healthy fats necessary to run in top performance. 

And don't let anyone tell you what a meal should be!