Going on out on your own for the first time can be freeing, but also more than a little daunting.
You suddenly are responsible for a whole host of things that, even if your parents tried to prepare you for, you still get caught off-guard by. Rent and utilities, laundry if you don’t have a washer/dryer, and, of course, handling your own grocery shopping.
A 19-year-old who just moved out on her own for the first time when on Reddit to ask users there for their tips on getting the most out of their dollar at the store. They came back with some decent advice.
I know. I’m shocked, also.
Here are a few choice responses (helpfully curated by Buzzfeed)
“I usually pick one protein, typically chicken or beans for me, and make it at the beginning of the week. Then, I buy veggies and carbs to make different meals. Like, I’ll buy a pack of chicken, get lettuce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, tortillas, pasta, tomato sauce, rice, soy sauce. Then I have ingredients for tacos, chicken fried rice, pasta, and even salad.”
“Not wandering down aisles you don’t need to be in helps cut down on impulse purchases, and larger stores like Walmart and Hy-Vee will tell you on their website where to find the items you’re looking for — it’s usually listed by aisle, possibly even subsection of the aisle. So you can map out your entire shopping trip before you go to the store.”
“If you’re on a budget, most grocery stores have apps now, and you can add coupons for things you need. When you scan the app’s barcode at checkout, the coupons will apply.”
“I like to organize my grocery list so I don’t forget things or waste too much time at the store. I write headings based on where you’d find things: Produce, eggs/dairy, meat, canned goods, dry goods, frozen, and so on. See if your grocery store has a bulk section as well — oftentimes, the seasonings and grains are a better value. I really like the bulk seasoning, and some extra flavor never hurts when you’re learning to cook.”
“To start, get the basics of what you typically consume. I usually also have things that I can throw together quickly if I’m not in the mood to cook: Cereal, sandwich stuff, pasta, frozen meals, etc.”
“Check out the weekly ads for your local stores to get an idea of who has the best sales and general pricing. Go through the ad, and make your list. You may have stuff you don’t necessarily need at the moment, but you can stock up on non-perishables while they are on sale. You can also save quite a bit by getting a membership or rewards card, and it’s usually free.”
“Don’t buy the stuff at eye level. Look down for cheaper-priced items of the same kind, including store brands.”
Check out either the Reddit thread or the Buzzfeed link above for more tips.
My own tip: The HyVee frozen chicken tenders are great for a quick meal if you don’t feel like spending time preparing something. The bag is pricey ($26), but it’s also big enough that it can last you about a month, if you spread it out. Two or three tenders, some marinara, boil some spaghetti and you’ve got chicken parmesan!