Living Solo: Doing Groceries

We use these nice recyclable shopping bags from Rustans.  Use less plastic, I always say!
We use these nice recyclable shopping bags from Rustan's. Use less plastic, I always say!

One of the chores that appeal to me the most about living solo is hitting the supermarket a couple times a week to get supplies- food, personal care stuff, sundries, etc.

It’s a very empowering activity; you spend the money you make however you wish.  You decide what kind of bread you’d be eating that week, what kind of meat you want in your sandwiches, what brand of soap you’ll be using, or how much junk food you’d like to stash away.

The purpose of doing groceries is really to maximize your earnings.  Sure, you can probably afford to have pizza or Chinese food delivered to your home every few days, but you couldn’t possibly keep up that kind of spending every day of the month- at least not without severely throwing your carefully planned budget out the window.

Heck, even if you could afford it, you know you could spend your cash better than that.  A well-stocked pad, apartment or house also gives you that peace of mind that, yes, you do have everything you might possibly need at home.

You might not realize it, but there’s a system of sorts to buying groceries, or at least when putting together your shopping list.  Here are a few tips to consider when stocking up on supplies for the week.

1.  Get Your Basics First. These are the things you can’t do without- stuff you regularly consume on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis- and it totally depends on your lifestyle and size of household.

In my case, the basics for a regular week of groceries would most likely include:
– A loaf of wheat bread.  For my sandwiches.
– A carton of milk.
– A tray of eggs, 1 dozen.
– A bag of rice, 2 kilos.  If I feel like having rice, at least.
– Fruits in season.
– Garlic, onion and tomatoes.
– Cat food, several cans.  Plus a bag of dry.
– A couple bottles of drinks- which could be soda, juice or iced tea.

2.  Next, put in semi-regulars. You probably won’t be using these up in a week, so you might want to add these items to your list every month, every other month, or even every few months.

– Personal Care Items:  bath soap, shampoo, toothpaste, talcum powder, deodorant, cotton buds, etc.
– Breakfast Items: boxes of cereal, coffee, tea, cream, sugar or sweeteners, jams and spreads, etc.
– Canned Goods:  corned beef, tuna, sardines, spam, mixed fruit, etc.
– Kitchen Needs: cooking oil, spices, condiments, etc.
– Paper products: toilet paper, kitchen towels, facial tissue.
– Sundries: dishwashing liquid, trash bags, microwaveable containers, etc.

3.  After those, you should then consider specific recipes you’ll be cooking or preparing within the week.  It might actually help if you have a food plan of sorts- but as long as you figure out what you need, go right ahead and add whatever ingredients you might need to your list.

–  If I wanted to cook adobo, for example, I will then add to my list: a half-kilo of pork, a half-kilo of chicken legs, soy sauce, cane vinegar, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaf.
–  If I wanted chicken sandwich that week, I’d get me some chicken breasts, mayonnaise, a head of lettuce and some tomatoes.  And some sandwich bags, if I plan to take them to work.
–  If I wanted to prepare some bolognese pasta, I’ll be requiring a half-kilo of ground beef, onions, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, red and green pepper, and a pack of pasta like spaghetti, penne or fettucine.  I might also end up picking up some garlic bread and wine to go with it.

4.  Also, consider specific tasks you plan to do, or events you have happening that week.  Again, figure out what you need, and add it to your list.

– If I was hosting a small DVD marathon/get-together at home, I’d probably get more beverages, a few six-packs of beer, microwaveable popcorn, several bags of potato chips and other snacks, some more table napkins, paper plates, plastic spoons and forks,  and some extra trash bags.
– If I’ll be doing some major cleaning in the bathroom, I’ll probably be needing some rubber gloves, a bottle of mildew and mold remover, toilet bowl cleaning liquid, cleanser, deodorizer, a variety of cleaning implements, and maybe some new bathrugs.

5.  Lastly, after you’ve stocked up on your essentials, you may now get all your other extras- snacks, candies, magazines, etc.

–  If I’m on low-carb mode, I’d go ahead and get more cashew nuts, sugar-free cookies and candies, low-carb yogurt and/or sugar-free ice cream.
–  Otherwise, I’ll go ahead and get myself several bags of Lay’s, Nachos and a jar of cheese sauce, some Yakult, and rosquillo cookies.

Mmm... Kettle Cooked Potato Chips...
Mmm… Kettle Cooked Potato Chips…

So there you have it- a simple guide to picking up groceries at the supermarket.  Get your essentials first, then task-specific goods, and finally your extras.

Cheers, everyone.

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