Buying for One

by Johnny Gunn

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When one reaches that point in life where income is limited, and when often we find ourselves living alone, the idea of cost effective purchases becomes more than just an accounting phrase. This came home to me when the kids left the nest and then the nest got even more empty. The single little Social Security check didn't buy the things that I like to eat. I enjoy a nice big pot roast with roasted potatoes and carrots. I enjoy slow roasted spare ribs and a chicken in the slow cooker always makes my mouth water. My spaghetti sauce really is better than what is available in jars, and I can cook a mean pot of red beans and chilies.

At the grocery store, family packs of pork chops, family packs of hamburger, large bags of chicken breasts or thighs are always on sale, and they are far less expensive than single servings. This really discouraged me. What on earth is one man to do with a five or six pound roast? The difference in price was substantial between single servings and family packs, and the opportunity to build a nice big pot of something just didn't exist anymore.

It was a fishing friend that enlightened me to the concept of "cost effective purchasing." We were plinking little flies out across a beaver pond in central Nevada one weekend when I played the cry-baby about not being able to buy the kinds of food that I really like. Old Henry is big for his age, any age, and he waded over, gently slapped me up across the side of the head, didn't offer a bit of a smile, and said, "Buy an apartment size freezer, dummy."

I'm sure that anyone standing by would have seen the light bulb popping on and off above my head that day. Such a simple answer to a problem that was giving me the fits. It didn't take a lot of shopping around to come up with a nice little eight cubic foot apartment size freezer for about $200. Stop and think about the difference in price per pound between a package of two pork chops and a family pack of ten and you can see that the freezer will pay for itself.

I buy freezer wrap paper, pint containers that are freezer and microwave safe, and purchase as if I was once again buying for a family of four or more. I re-wrap the chops and chicken thighs. After preparing a nice big roast, I slice and freeze it in single serving size. I roast an entire rack of ribs and cut it into single serving size for the freezer, and that spaghetti sauce stays as fresh in the freezer as the day I make it.

Soups and sauces freeze ever so nicely as do cakes, biscuits, and other goodies one finds on sale and would never buy without that little apartment size freezer sitting in the corner. Mine is a top loader, but they also come as a front loader. Make certain the one you get will maintain a constant temperature of zero degrees F or less. That guarantees your food will not spoil over a several month's time span and you won't lose that precious spaghetti sauce.

When the weather is foul, you can't get out, and the neighbors can't visit, make a nice big pot of soup or stew. As a single BF (that is, before freezer), I would never do that. I would have to eat soup for a week straight and hope it didn't go bad. Now, I glory in a pot of beef and barley soup, and a week or two from now, I can have some more. Possibly, a week or two after that, I do as well. And, the beef was on sale in a family pack that allowed me to purchase it on my limited budget.

Cost effective purchase has an entirely different meaning for me now that I'm living alone on a limited income, and it has the added benefit of allowing me to eat foods that are good for me on the one hand and that I really enjoy.

Take the Next Step:

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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