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Cooking for One? Try These Delicious Hacks to Maximize Your Food Budget

A young woman wearing a white shirt stirs a bowl

Does it feel like your grocery budget is getting tighter? Well you’re not alone, and with grocery prices becoming more and more expensive, budget-friendly grocery and cooking hacks are in high demand — especially if you’re the only person you’re feeding. Cooking for one? No need to skimp on flavour: all you need are a few tricks in the kitchen to create delicious, satisfying meals for one — on a dime.

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assorted flowers and herbs in ice cube trays

Freeze your herbs

Does your huge bundle of herbs often wilt before you’ve had time to use it all? There is a solution. Freezing your extra fresh herbs keeps them fresh until you need them next, and avoids unnecessary food waste. Simply remove thick stems, finely chop your herbs, and put them in an ice cube tray or zip-top freezer bag with water and even a bit of oil.

Related: These are the food trend predictions for 2022 we’re most excited about.

A young woman makes a big batch of pasta in the kitchen

Make big batches

This tip may seem obvious (and may take some initial effort), but making big-batch meals and saving leftovers for later will help save you time, money and help prevent food waste — and, when cooking for one, prepping a big-batch recipe makes many meals. Look for value-size packs of meat, fish or vegetables to cook and freeze into individual portions to be used when you need them.

See also: Did that price go up? 10 everyday things that will cost more in 2022.

A woman cooking in an orange pot on the stove

Slow-cook your way to savings

Speaking of making big-batch recipes: if you have a crock pot or slow-cooker on hand, now is the time to use it. Make the most of your budget (and take advantage of your slow-cooker) by looking for cheaper, whole cuts of meat like pork shoulder or beef shank, which taste fantastic when cooked low and slow. Slowing cooking helps the meat stay moist and tender and can be customized using sauces, spices, vegetables and broths.

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A young woman cooking

Repurpose your condiments

If a recipe calls for a specific sauce, herb or condiments that you don’t have or don’t often use, think twice before making an additional purchase. Repurposing sauces is a simple trick when you’re cooking on a budget. Try swapping out sour cream with plain greek yogurt, green onion tips in place of chives, or whipping up an easy DIY Worcestershire sauce.

See also: What is pink sauce — and why is everyone talking about it?

A young woman holds a cracker topped with fresh berries

Shop seasonal

Purchasing local, seasonal produce means it will likely taste fresher and cost less due to minimal transport. Check out farmer’s markets and produce stands to find the best deals on produce that’s currently in-season.

Related: ‘Tip-flation’ is real in Ontario — this is how much the average tip is right now.

A young woman puts a bag of produce on the kitchen counter

Buy “ugly” produce

Many grocery stores will put irregular looking produce — think carrots with two “legs” or fruits with minor bruising — on sale. These naturally imperfect items are perfectly fine, save you money and help to eliminate food waste.

See also: This grocery app helps save the planet while saving you money.

A young woman reads a book while eating a bowl of ice cream

Make your own snacks

Purchasing store-bought snacks can get very expensive no matter how many people you’re feeding, and often aren’t as healthy as they seem. Instead of relying on prepackaged foods, try making your own at home. Granola bars, energy bites and veggie dips are easy and cost-effective snacks you can make and enjoy on your own.

Related: ‘Shrinkflation’ is real: Package sizes are getting smaller — but not prices.


A young woman chops vegetables in the kitchen

Incorporate meatless meals

Eating less meat is an easy way to pair down your grocery bill — and it can be good for the environment. If you’re a meat-eater, swap out your traditional animal proteins a few times a week with filling (and often less-expensive) alternatives like legumes, beans, eggs, peanut butter or tofu. These sweet and savoury tofu recipes offer plenty of ways to elevate this less-expensive protein source.

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