Grocery store shelf.

Whether you’re living on your own for the first time or cooking for yourself after the kids have flown the coop, grocery shopping and cooking for one is an art form. If you’re accustomed to shopping for others, you can retrain your brain. And if this is brand new to you, you can learn. You just need a plan and some determination.

Here’s how to grocery shop for one, so you can save time and money while enjoying tasty meals each day.

Plan your meals

Meal planning is extremely important when you’re cooking for one. Without a specific approach to your week’s meals, you’re more likely to waste food or get tired of cooking every single day (and turn to takeout instead). You might also buy a lot of ingredients you like but find that they don’t pair together for delicious meals.

You don’t have to be a chef or a food whiz to plan your meals. Cooking for one can be simple and still yield tasty results. Use a notepad, a note app on your smartphone or one of many meal-planning apps to start the process.

When you’re creating your meal plan, consider the following:

  • Limit fresh foods to what you can actually eat in a week. Lettuce, for example, might look great the day you buy it but not so great four or five days later. Plan your meals around foods that spoil soonest.
  • Make meals that save well and give you leftovers. Not only will this produce some easy meals or dinners on subsequent days, but you’ll also reduce food waste from prepping recipes that include two or more servings (and most do).
  • Freeze extra raw, fresh foods. If blueberries are on sale, and you buy a couple of cartons but can’t eat them all within a week, freeze them. You can use them later for smoothies or even muffins. You can do the same with meat, but freeze it when it’s as fresh as possible instead of waiting until the last second.

Be strategic about your foods

Many recipes call for ingredients that could be purchased either fresh or frozen. Broccoli, for example, is easy to steam from frozen and is still nutritious. By purchasing frozen foods, you can cut down on food waste and keep your kitchen stocked with foods you won’t have to worry about going bad.

You can also cook meals and freeze leftovers in meal-sized batches. This won’t work for every dish, but many pasta-based dishes (for example) will make for an easy meal on a week when you want to cook less or save more. Just pull extra portions out of the freezer and thaw/cook in your microwave.

Lean on coupons

You can definitely take advantage of the frozen food aisle when you’re shopping for one. However, you might spend a lot of extra money for convenience there. Have you ever noticed how much a bag of frozen fruit costs? This is where checking for coupons or sales can help you save big.

You can find coupons to support your budget in grocery store fliers, food manufacturer websites and newspapers. But our carousel of grocery-related coupons is the best place to start for a wide variety of products and brands — plus they’re updated frequently. Also, we have an app that puts the power of saving money with cash back offers in your pocket.

If you check our app as frequently as you check Instagram and tap a few offers here and there, you will save big on your next trip to the store. In fact, you might even be standing in a grocery store aisle when a new offer on a product you want hits the app.

Be open to change

They say it’s hard to change, but you can learn how to grocery shop for one without generating food waste or spending a ton of money. Take advantage of sales and coupons, and be specific with your meal plan — and then stick to it.

You may even find that grocery shopping for one can be fun since you don’t have to consult anyone else’s preferences. And you might find new favorite recipes and foods you never considered trying before.

Don’t forget to check the coupons and cash back offers from before you head out to shop for your week’s meal plan.