Table for One

How to Grocery Shop for One

For singles, food shopping can be a challenge. This week, columnist Eric Kim shares his best supermarket secrets.

January 24, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.

“I rarely go grocery shopping for myself,” my colleague Rebecca Sutter tells me.

Like many single people in metropolitan cities, Sutter lives alone and looks to other avenues to feed herself (restaurants, takeout, the giveaway table at Food52), stretching out the portions over multiple days. She does this, for one thing, because cooking for one in New York City can be as expensive as those other avenues—if not more so. When she does go to the grocery store, it’s to buy basics like pasta, soups, and snacks, but never something like, say, a steak.

I don't blame her. So much of what we buy in supermarkets is packaged for at least two shoppers. There’s nothing like emptying out half a can of soup and sticking the rest in the fridge to remind you that few things in life are designed for solo cooks and eaters. Only recently have grocery stores in America begun to sell single chicken breasts as opposed to the usual two- or three-pack; pre-cut, small-portioned packs of mixed fresh vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and squash; and even pint containers of portioned-out mirepoix, enough for a small batch of stew.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Add peeled garlic cloves, peeled ginger (so all ready to grate) and cooked rice to things that go directly into the freezer. Pass on mesclun unless you are going to eat it that night as too fragile. When I commented to a farmer at the market that I was so impressed that his lettuce lived so long he told me that that was because when I bought it at the grocery it was already a week old. Don’t buy old produce. Cultivate a love of sturdy veggies like cabbage, radish and winter squash. Make a deal with yourself that fragile produce needs to be consumed, cooked or frozen ASAP because waste is costly and ups your carbon foot print. ”
— NancyFromKona

“If only there were some club I could join,” Sutter says, “where I could be like, ‘I only need half of this carrot. Who needs the rest of it?’ CSA shares? Forget about it; I could never sign up for one because all of that produce would just go to waste before I had a chance to even look at it.”

I started this column because I was sick of cooking recipes written for two, or for families of four to six. As someone who doesn’t enjoy eating the same thing twice, it was easy to start developing the single-serving recipes I wasn’t seeing myself on the Internet and in cookbooks years ago. But as my recipes gained traction, I started to get questions from readers who also wanted tips on how to shop for those recipes—especially when grocery stores can sometimes feel alienating for those of us who have just ourselves to feed.

But we adapt. If you are, like me, forever on the hunt for little tricks to make life easier, then look no further. Here are the main things that have led me to a more consistently pleasurable shopping experience—which, in turn, has also meant a chiller cooking and dining experience for one.

9 Jedi Tricks

1. Identify a few key flavor players.

Everyone has their favorites: a small group of reliable condiments you love and use often in your daily cooking. These should be high-impact flavor bombs you can buy in little containers regularly, so they’ll never go to waste. My pantry, for instance, is never without all of the funky, fermented sauces (fish sauce, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce) and umami-rich pastes (miso, black bean, anchovy, and gochujang).

This posse of powerhouse pantry staples could also include non-sauces and non-pastes like kombu (edible kelp), which makes brilliant vegan broths, and gim (roasted seaweed snack), which I keep on hand at all times. To me, gim is much less a snack and more an instant flavoring agent that adds a nutty, saline hit to anything it’s crushed into: risotto, grits, kimchi fried rice. Helps, too, that gim comes in individual packets for single-use cooking.

2. Stock up on pantry-bound carbohydrates with long shelf lives.

You don’t need me to tell you about why starches like dried pasta and rice are useful to have on hand as sturdy bases to build meals off of; the idea, even more, is that you can buy a wide variety of these and utterly stuff your shelves like you’re preparing for the apocalypse (because they won’t go bad for months, even years). In addition to the pasta and rice, I’d add to this list: quinoa, barley, farro, grits or polenta, canned beans. Whenever I’m at the store, I always buy at least one of these—if not for that night’s dinner, for the gorgeous stash of carbs I’m amassing in my pantry, like a magpie’s trove of shiny objects.

3. Your freezer is your best friend (and your second pantry).

When I’m shopping for groceries, I’m not just thinking about my immediate meals; I’m planning for the future, as well. So when I see a gorgeous salmon fillet, or perfect ribeye steaks, or chicken thighs, or beautiful, thick-cut slabs of bacon that are on sale, I buy them on the spot. Because once I get home, I know that I can just stash single portions of each in the freezer for easy thawing later down the line. This works especially well with bacon, which I usually buy by the pound, roast a couple strips for myself right then and there, then freeze the rest in two-slice pouches.

Other good things to buy fresh and freeze for later: onions, peppers, all of the berries (blueberries, strawberries, cranberries), and bread. For most vegetables, however, like butternut squash, cauliflower, and broccoli, it is important to blanch them briefly first (which stops the oxidation process), then shock them in an ice bath before storing in the freezer.

4. Make smaller, more frequent trips a part of your dinner routine.

As Carla Lalli Music writes in Where Cooking Begins, "Shop for food often and purchase only what you'll consume in the next couple of days."

I recognize that this may apply more to those who live in big cities and are able to pop into a store after work, but even my mother, who lives in suburban Georgia, drives to H-Mart a few times a week. What this allows for is more intentional shopping, which is to say: As long as you’ve taken care of #1, #2, and #3 on this list and have an arsenal of delicious staples from which to build a meal, a smaller trip can mean looking for that one piece of fish, or that one perfect vegetable, to highlight for dinner. It can also mean that you’ll be less likely to buy things you don’t need (that will inevitably go bad because you didn't have a purpose for them in the first place).

An umami-packed pantry vinaigrette dresses up spaghetti and broccoli in a pinch. Photo by James Ransom

5. Buy as much as you can from the bulk section.

Though it might seem counterintuitive, the bulk bins are where you can purchase exactly the amount you need and no more. This includes many of your dried base carbohydrates from #2. Extra credit if you bring your own bags. As for produce: I won’t go into why single-use plastics are the worst, but don’t fall for the individually packaged vegetables that I mentioned earlier (no matter how temptingly convenient they look). Just buy the whole onion, the whole carrot, the whole stalk of celery. It’ll be cheaper anyway, and what you don’t use within a week you can roast and add to cooked pasta or have alongside that gorgeous salmon fillet.

6. As for the items you can’t buy from the bulk section...

Like eggs, cheese, and milk—they’re not as perishable as you might think.

  • Fresh eggs can keep for up to five weeks before they go bad; plus, they freeze surprisingly well (out of their shell, of course). I always freeze the leftover egg whites when I make recipes that only call for yolks. Then, as soon as I collect enough whites, I can just thaw them and make a pavlova or meringue cookies.
  • When buying cheese, remember that the harder it is, the longer it’ll last. Parmesan and pecorino, for instance, keep in the fridge for weeks. If you’re dealing with blues and goats and other soft cheeses, however, just make sure to only buy what you can eat in a week or so.
  • As for milk, I always buy the smallest quart-sized jug (which is about four cups) of pasteurized milk; since I only use it for coffee, I need it be able to hold up for a little while. My Korean cousin once asked me, “Why does American milk take so long to go bad?”
  • Same goes for butter, by the way. Buy as much as you need; in the fridge, it'll last you about six to nine (!) months, some sources say. (Wrapped tightly, it'll last you even longer in the freezer.)

7. Stop buying stock and keep Better Than Bouillon on hand.

I’ve always felt that the greatest scam in the grocery store is boxed (or canned) stock. I don’t know about you, but the stuff tastes like water to me. Frankly, you might as well just use water. My life was forever changed once I discovered Better Than Bouillon, another high-impact flavor bomb (see #1) that lets you make as much broth as you need, whenever you need it. A teaspoon of the umami-rich paste makes a cup of broth, which is prodigiously useful when you’re cooking for just you. This is the way I see it: If you’re not making your own stock from scratch, then why not go for the prepared stuff that at least comes pretty darn close to tasting like homemade? And anyway, this stuff is, truly, better than bouillon.

8. Don’t overlook the freezer aisle.

This is where you can pick up other building blocks for delicious meals, like frozen shrimp, peas, broccoli, spinach, potato wedges, dumplings, and even rice. And it might go without saying, but I always sleep more soundly knowing there’s a single's pizza waiting for me in the freezer. Frozen dinners are inherently cheap and inherently single-serving. If you buy the right ones, you can really max out on their cost/benefit ratio. A 10-ounce Stouffer’s lasagna, for instance, costs $2.99; round it out with a homemade side salad (especially Little Gem and radicchio, the best lettuces for solo dinners because they're mini).

But if you are ever up for the project, just make your own big batch of lasagna, or stew, or whatever, and freeze it in individual portions for DIY TV dinners throughout the week.

9. Lastly, don’t forget about dessert—for one.

I always keep a jar of peanut butter and a bag of chocolate chips on hand, for those all-too-frequent moments, late into the night, when what I really need is a gooey, comforting sweet. As long as you have these two ingredients (and a few basic pantry staples, i.e. flour, milk, eggs), you’re never more than 10 minutes away from dessert—and you didn’t even have to run out to the store for ingredients.

More from Food52

How do you grocery shop for one? Share your smartest tips in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • lmht7379
  • Janice Clarke-Reiter
    Janice Clarke-Reiter
  • FrugalCat
  • Margaret
  • NancyFromKona
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.


lmht7379 April 23, 2023
Great article and tips. I’ve been using most of these methods for years, and as a former food service manager, wasting food is a sin in my eyes. I love Asian food and cook it often. I save a load of money by seeking out Asian food stores. Sweet to buy superior product for 50% to 75% less than mainstream brands found in all the supermarkets. Produce there is also much lower in price and they carry all the fabulous vegetables common in Asian recipes.
Janice C. January 10, 2022
Eric, I appreciate your suggestions, but it's hard during Covid/Omicron to leave home to go shopping. Just not safe going into grocery stores where shoppers refuse to wear masks or to cover their noses. Deliveries from Costco and pick up at other stores are hit and miss. Looks like your article was written nearly two years ago, and the situation has grown worse, not better. Sad. Looking forward to trying out more of your suggestions later this year.
FrugalCat January 23, 2021
True story- my co-worker met her boyfriend at a supermarket where she was asking the butcher to split a pack of ground beef in half. He said "I'll take the other half" and while the butcher was re-wrapping, they got to talking, exchanged numbers, etc.
Margaret August 22, 2020
For single/duo bacon lovers, place a whole package of separated bacon strips flat, side by side, onto two rimmed baking sheets. Oscar Mayer CENTER CUT has less visible fat, works well using this method, and there’s no need to line pans with baking racks. Bake in pre-heated 350-degree oven for approximately 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and vice versa half way through cooking time. When desired doneness is reached, remove pans from oven and place bacon strips in single layers onto a paper towel-lined plate, separating each layer with a paper towel. Blot bacon lightly so as to not break the strips. Put aside bacon to be consumed immediately or soon after the day of preparation. To reserve remaining bacon for a later date, lightly roll each paper towel with bacon into a cylinder shape. Place the rolled bacon towels into a freezer bag and freeze until needed. Then just remove desired amount of pre-cooked bacon from the freezer bag, place in single layer onto a microwave-safe plate and nuke on high 30 seconds for crisp slices. This timing works well in my microwave using 2-strip portions Cooked frozen bacon can be ready in seconds for that special breakfast, summer tomato sandwiches, salads etc. It is surprising how little fat remains in the baking pans when using center cut bacon, but what does remain can be refrigerated/frozen, and used for other purposes.
NancyFromKona August 22, 2020
Mahalo Margaret. So brilliant I printed it out for myself. This could be a bad thing to know since we rarely eat bacon because the mess of making for 1-2 hardly seems worth it. I thought I was smart when I made bundles of frozen pre-measured chopped bacon to use in my baked beans thus avoiding the limiting factor in making a beloved recipe but your idea truly takes the cake!
NancyFromKona August 22, 2020
I see bread as problematic for many singles and hoping that during the national sourdough rise many have discovered that their homemade loaves keep exceptionally well wrapped in a linen towel. Another trick: keeping individual servings of dough in the fridge for those times you want hot, fresh bread. When it is too hot to turn on the oven may I suggest flatbread? It’s a 4 minute cook on the stove, here’s one I love: And Ali Staffords no knead brioche buns and Jim Laheys pizza dough work the same way, take up very little fridge space.

Produce is challenging too. Fresh herbs is the most expensive purchase so freeze, grow your own. Add peeled garlic cloves, peeled ginger (so all ready to grate) and cooked rice to things that go directly into the freezer. Pass on mesclun unless you are going to eat it that night as too fragile. When I commented to a farmer at the market that I was so impressed that his lettuce lived so long he told me that that was because when I bought it at the grocery it was already a week old. Don’t buy old produce. Cultivate a love of sturdy veggies like cabbage, radish and winter squash. Make a deal with yourself that fragile produce needs to be consumed, cooked or frozen ASAP because waste is costly and ups your carbon foot print.
Shane L. February 1, 2020
What about tomato paste, I feel like I waste too much; I'm never sure how long a tube, jar, or can will last in the refrigerator before going bad. I found some powdered tomato doing a quick search. Does anyone have experience using tomato powder in place of paste? Let me know, thanks :)
Nancy February 1, 2020
Freeze tomato paste in ice cube trays. Keeps months. Add 1 or 2 cube to sauce when needed.
Susanna March 1, 2020
I often freeze leftover tomato paste from a can in individual plastic bags, but I also keep tubes of it open for a long, long time. Like for several months.
Suzan B. January 28, 2020
The freezer is the best way to eat for one (or two.) I will take a whole rotisserie chicken, shred it and make enchiladas (a big one will use all 18 corn tortillas) freeze on a baking sheet and then pop in a freezer bag. I can take out one or two, cover with sauce and cheese and have an easy dinner. Same with stuffed shells, cannelloni or even lasagna roll-ups. It sometimes just takes a little planning, but I prefer my food to restaurants, so it is worth the effort.
Eric K. January 28, 2020
Thanks for the tips, Suzan!
M January 27, 2020
I think part of cooking for one is rethinking the idea that you have to cook for one and struggle to downsize every recipe and ingredient. Otherwise cooking for one can often be a lot more expensive and stressful.

A whole chicken for one means roast chicken one night, a sandwich, soup, and extra stock for freezing because stock uses up so many things and isn't picky about perfection. (Bones of small portions can also be collected in a freezer bag, then used to make stock when you have to get rid of old celery, carrots, and onions. Make Instant Pot pho with drumsticks, and the extra will make a crazy-tasty sandwich the next day.) A lasagna is fairly quick to make (just ask Paris Hilton!), and will be a much cheaper frozen dinner than one serving. Soup for 8 means soup plus 6-7 servings to freeze for times snowed in. A pound of ground meat means a cheeseburger, meatballs, mini-meatloaf...or a bunch of taco meat that can become sloppy joes on day 2, 3, or 4. Embrace a little repetition and make it a challenge to cook something so different that it doesn't even seem repetitive.

But if you live in a city like NYC, I think step one would be shopping at places where you're in control of the amount you buy, like butchers that will sell one pork chop and cheese mongers who will sell a few cheese slices or a tiny chunk.
Nancy January 27, 2020
M - yes. Am less averse to repetition than Eric reports himself and often cook as you describe above, using one purchase of meat to generate several meals or dishes.
Problem in NYC, from what I remember, is appliances often too small to accommodate such cooking and storage.
Eric K. January 27, 2020
I love that, M & N. With this column I’ve only leaned into batch cooking for one a handful of times (shredded chicken, roast chicken, soup), but you’re right; it is a big part of learning how to cook for just yourself. For me it’s only cooking things you know for certain you‘ll want to eat spoonful after spoonful without ever tiring of it.

Funny you say mini meatloaf because that’s next week’s column. :)
Nancy January 28, 2020
Another editorial idea. If you later do an article following M's ideas for multiple uses of one chicken, frame it in methods (e.g. roast, saute, soup, sandwich, pasta sauce) so people see they can easily apply the ideas to lamb, beef, big block of tofu, etc.
M January 28, 2020
Honestly, I'm always trying to rid myself of the idea that dinner always has to be something you don't get tired of. We've become conditioned to have all-access passes to food. The more I watch old Depression Era Clara videos, or things like Back in Time for Dinner, the more I'm reminded how much plenty we expect for dinner. Hell, even early Good Eats episodes, not so long ago, were severely restricted by access to things that are ubiquitous today. A little unwanted repetition might be a good thing.
Eric K. January 28, 2020
M, very interesting perspective. Certainly we are spoiled today.
ashley's B. February 17, 2020
Related thoughts: Although I'd love to have variety and variation _every_ night, cooking for one makes that expensive and time consuming.
Currently I'm in a groove doing variation by _week:_ I pick a general cuisine / spice profile for a week. That means I can prep or batch cook stuff once (e.g. Vietnamese. or Italian), then eat easily and relatively quickly the rest of the week.
Foodie41 January 26, 2020
Another valuable to me has been dating EVERYTHING as I open and put in the Refrigerator. Knowing when I opened it for the first time so no "2nd Guessing" anymore. I have a deep freezer so anything that goes in there is also dated. I haven't figured out a way for dry goods as yet. I have been thinking of putting a small Whiteboard inside of a cabinet door and keeping a list there. I plan to also use the whiteboard for when I get low on canned/dry goods.
Nancy January 26, 2020
How to date dry goods.
First, often less urgent as some (e.g., pasta, beans) last for years.
If you store in paper or cardboard, write on package.
If you transfer to a canister or other container, write on part of the package wrapper you save in the container. (It's useful to save something with manufacturer's and product name, maybe the nutrition info.)
Eric K. January 27, 2020
Love these tips!
Gammy January 28, 2020
I keep a lot of dry goods in clear, air tight, acrylic containers and for items that have cooking directions (think pasta, noodles, grains) I cut the instructions along with the name (if not obvious) and slip down into the container facing outward. Easy enough to add the date purchased, too.
Eric K. January 28, 2020
Aw Gammy, I love that tip of cutting out the instructions. Even the same type of pasta shape from different brands can vary vastly in cook time.
Shane L. February 1, 2020
My Grams used to cut the instructions from the packaging and tape it to the container ;)
mdelgatty February 1, 2020
Painter's tape and a Sharpie...
Steven W. January 5, 2021
They can take up room, but mason jars hold lots of stuff. I cut off the nutrition facts (or best by date) on dry goods and pop it right in the jar. (For cereal, pasta rice type things.) Or get painter's tape and label the jars. you can even find used jars---check for nicks and just buy new lids and bands.
Steven W. January 5, 2021
Oops, didn't see call the great tips before i posted!!
Leslie B. January 5, 2021
I do this as well... cut out the label and anything else I need to know, place in front of glass jar —- also write the date on the cut out info. Very simple. Also, I have a large variety of glass jars in different sizes and move to smaller ones as I use up an item.
Carlos C. January 26, 2020
Really great tips. I always tell people to buy bouillon cubes (or their alternatives) rather than packing a freezer full of bags and bags of broth. The boxer broth is just weird to me. It always has a lot of things I don’t want (sugar, tomatoes, tons of veggies that don’t fit with what I’m cooking). But if you really want to go the homemade route, make a demi glace. It’s easier than you think and you can dilute it with water to make sauce.

As for milk, even in a large household, I can never go through fresh milk before it goes bad. That’s why I keep evaporated in my pantry. It’s excellent in cooking. Seriously. Try it with pasta.
Eric K. January 27, 2020
Demi glace is a great idea. So fance.
Nancy January 26, 2020
Eric and posters - great article, great tips! One other suggestion on produce. We all have favorite vegetables and fruits, and would like to have many around to choose from for salads, soups, sides. But hard to do when living alone. So I buy fruit/veg in rotation, so I get a variety of tastes, texture & nutrients over the season. But always have minimum white, one each white, green, red/purple. Another tip - cabbage. It's great for salads, vitamin C, etc. I usually get through one, maybe two a winter. Can use in Cole slaw, soup, and pasta (famous sauteed onion cabbage bowtie pasta dish).
Eric K. January 27, 2020
I adore cabbage, too; stir-fried (but still crunchy) with a little meat, sesame oil, kimchi. Divine. Also, I always forget how many portions a single head is! So filling.

Thanks for sharing, Nancy.
sf-dre January 28, 2020
I've found smaller heads of cabbage at my farmers market and if not available, there's always mixed cabbage or broccoli slaw from Trader Joe's. I'm not much for meal planning, more about what's on sale or what looks good at the farmers market.
ashley's B. February 17, 2020
Ask the produce folks at the grocery store if they'd be willing to cut a head of cabbage in half and sell you 1 half. (And of course also ask at farmer's markets.)
There is usually 1/2 head sitting available at my favorite local small market, and often there are halves of other large veggies available. (squashes, etc.) I'm much more likely to buy 1/2 head cabbage because the remains won't be staring accusingly at me in my fridge.
Never hurts to ask! Worst that can happen is they say "nope."
Sarah M. January 25, 2020
As a college student living in a small dorm with a roommate, I enjoy perusing Table for One and getting inspiration for meals when I don't want to eat pasta and jarred tomato sauce or at the Panera on campus for the third time in a week. Thanks for the tips on grocery shopping for one- a lot of it I had seen/heard before but it's always nice to see them compiled in one place that I can go back to.
Eric K. January 27, 2020
That makes me so glad, Sarah. Thanks for perusing, and let me know if there's anything in particular you're ever looking for!
Gammy January 25, 2020
Great article Eric!! I love good bread, and won't buy the stuff from a grocery store shelf, but have found that the 2 of us can't go through a loaf before it gets stale. Now I have the bread sliced when I purchase, transfer to a freezer bag at home and freeze. I can always separate off a couple slices with a blunt butter knife, they will come to room temp. very quickly and we can have good fresh bread any time.
Eric K. January 25, 2020
There's a bakery near where I live; they make the best pullman loaf, which I always ask to be sliced so I can throw it in the freezer immediately. Best toast ever.

Thanks for reading, Gammy.
Gammy January 25, 2020
Some awesome local artisan bakeries in this country! I just bought a loaf today at our Saturday farmer's market. Seeds, whole grain, nuts and made with a locally created sourdough starter. Can't wait to try!
Eric K. January 25, 2020
Delicious. Enjoy!
ellicia January 25, 2020
Very informative article with lots of practical tips. I was so excited to learn about Better Than Bouillon until I read the ingredients. I hesitate to use this product because it has so many hidden sources of MSG - the hydrolyzed soy protein, the dried whey, flavorings, and the food additives disodium inosinate and guanylate which need MSG to be effective. Maybe someday I will find a bouillon free of dodgy ingredients.
Eric K. January 25, 2020
So glad you found it helpful, ellicia! And I hear you on the MSG; there's an interesting conversation regarding that below this article:
I feel like for me the main thing is, here and in life, everything in moderation.
Nancy January 26, 2020
E (auto incorrect mangles the full name) - have a look at River Cottage recipe for homemade bouillon mix (in food52 recipe section). Only manufactured ingredient is sun-dried tomatoes.
ellicia January 26, 2020
Thank you so much for the tip, especially the suggestion to halve the recipe. Otherwise I would have to peddle it in the neighborhood. : )
mikecz January 27, 2020
I'm really not at all sure about the MSG adverse thing. Look at Japan, which has one of the highest average age populations and longest life expectancy populations on the planet. Yet they commonly put high MSG ingredients in their food, even sometimes straight MSG (labelled as such on the container). How do you reconcile that?
Shane L. February 1, 2020
I'm not concerned with MSG so much as the other ingredients. I just ordered a product called Yondu ( INGREDIENTS: Organic Soybean Essence (Organic Soybean, Water, Salt), Vegetable Extract (Onion, White Radish, Leek, Cabbage, Carrot, Shiitake, Ginger, Garlic), Yeast Extract.
I'm sure there's plenty of naturally occurring MSG in there, but I consider that a good thing.
Alexis January 25, 2020
Thank you for this article. It will help me when I go shop for groceries as I start this new time in my life shopping and cooking for one or two people.
Eric K. January 25, 2020
May you find great pleasure and success in it.
Jodes January 25, 2020
My favourite tips: buy versatile veges. Baby spinach is great because you can use it in salads, sauté with mushrooms and garlic as a side, or throw it in smoothies and juices.
Also, if I have leftover vegetables, I’ll make a soup with whatever is available and then freeze it in portions for easy lunches.
Bananas freeze well for smoothies, you just have to peel them first. Same with pineapple and mango chunks.
Eric K. January 25, 2020
Great tips, Jodes; thanks for sharing.
cichlisuite January 24, 2020
Two tips: 1) warm chocolate chip cookies: make batch of cookie dough, portion them with a cookie scoop, freeze balls and place in ziplock bag. take 2-3 out, sprinkle with maldon salt and bake off in toaster oven for when you need a warm treat for one. 2) shiozake: buy side of salmon from costco, portion them, sprinkle with sake and salt, place in fridge overnight between paper towels for 24 hours. wrap individual portions tightly in plastic wrap and return to freezer. defrost individual portion to broil off in toaster over. i eat with leftover rice, boiling water and ochazuke mix. For fancier weekend breakfast for one, i also make miso soup, rollup a tamagoyaki, bust out the zojirushi 3-cup rice cooker and serve japanese pickles in cute plates hauled back from kappabashi.
Eric K. January 24, 2020
Smaug January 24, 2020
I suppose it would be a lot harder for someone living in a NY apartment, but if you have plenty of storage space shopping for one isn't much of a problem. I'm stuck with Safeway much of the time (it can be tough for a non driver in the burbs), and you have to shop sales there if you don't want to be robbed blind. I also have a Trader Joe's nearby, which is far more dependable. There seems to be more and more tendency to prepackage produce, which is on it's way to becoming a problem but not too much so far. By the way, as far as berries, you're really better off buying them frozen. Not only are they cheaper that way, due to the fragility of ripe berries those that are picked for retail are usually far from ripe; those picked for freezing can be considerably riper.
Eric K. January 24, 2020
Was waiting for your comment on this subject!

Agreed, frozen berries are often better. But it's always good to check the prices. At my store (in the dead of winter...) fresh raspberries were $2.99 and frozen were $5-6. I do think cherries are where frozen fruit reach their zenith, though.
Smaug January 24, 2020
Frozen berries (and other fruits) are one of those things you really need a Trader Joe's for. I'm currently working on a mango pie (half a dozen versions in the last couple of months)- the frozen chunks at Safeway were $5 for 12 oz.; at TJ's I believe it was under $3 for 24 oz. Please talk someone (other than those ridiculously overpriced Wyman's mixed bags) into freezing sour cherries- in our vast and wealthy nation, it should be possible to make a decent cherry pie.
Eric K. January 24, 2020
I know, right. Why are sour cherries only ever canned.
Eric K. January 24, 2020
/jarred or whatever.
Smaug January 25, 2020
Can't even get them canned here, but TJ does have them dried. An interesting product, but you can't make a traditional pie from them. Should be a good tree for home gardeners, though- unlike other cherries, they don't require 2 trees for pollination; also, sour cherries are said to be very helpful for fighting arthritis.
Elizabeth January 25, 2020
I’ve had good luck with Northwest Wild Foods; they ship frozen sour cherries 🍒
Smaug January 25, 2020
Elizabeth Thanks for that- I hadn't heard of them, but they sound like a good organization. I see that their sour cherries are available through Amazon, with free shipping (I wonder how they're shipped), but it's $75 for 4.5 lbs., a bit rich for my blood.
Smaug January 25, 2020
ps Amazon also lists some from Dole that are somewhat cheaper- comments say they are double boxed with dry ice, and at least for one customer did indeed arrive frozen. Unfortunately, as a shopper for one, 10 lbs. of sour cherries is somewhat beyond my scope, and they're still not by any means cheap.
Eric K. January 25, 2020
Love that. Thanks for the tip, Elizabeth!
Eric K. January 25, 2020
Smaug, I wonder if this is a reminder for us to relish in the fleetingness of seasonal foods. My "sour cherry" is Thanksgiving stuffing, which makes no sense because I could make it whenever the hell I want! But would it taste as special to me if I did?

Smaug January 25, 2020
I'm all for fleetingness of seasonal foods- seasons tend not to flee so fast in California anyway- but I can't get sour cherries even in season. I understand they're mostly grown in (I think it was) Michigan- maybe my sister in Wisconsin could send some, but shipping produce to California is pretty problematic. Or maybe I could go to one of the serious produce places in Berkeley and hope for the best, but I really don't get around much anymore. Perhaps I just classify cherry pie among the lost glories of the past and move on.
Elizabeth January 25, 2020
I've had luck in the Bay Area at Persian grocery stores -- they often carry sour cherries in season, but they are expensive because they are so delicate to ship -- good luck!
Shane L. February 1, 2020
I'm lucky enough to have ample storage space, and there are always big bags of frozen berries from Costco in my chest freezer - I use them every day in smoothies and oatmeal. They are only $8-9, for a 4 pound bag too!
mdelgatty February 1, 2020
Well, given how ecologically expensive this is, they shouldn't be...
Foodie41 January 24, 2020
I recently got a Food Saver machine, otherwise I would use ziplock style bags.
BACON was going to waste so I tried this & use it all the time now.
Open new 1 lb pkg of Bacon.
Peel off each slice & roll them up & stand on parchment lined baking sheet. Place in freezer a few hours or overnight.
The next day put all Bacon Rosettes into zip bag or Foodsaver resealable bags & suck out ALL of the air.
Date & mark bag with contents. Put back into freezer
When you need a slice or 2 remove desired amount from bag, rinse with some cool water until pliable. Place on your skillet that's on a low setting. Cook to desired crispness & enjoy!
Eric K. January 24, 2020
Shane L. February 1, 2020
I store almost everything using a vacuum machine. I've cut out plastic as much as possible though, and so, I got the attachments that allow me to apply the vacuum to glass canning jars. I use them for dry goods: pasta, beans, and grains. I also puree lemons, dates, herbs, etc., freeze them in ice cube trays, pop them out and into a jar for storage. I use the jars also, for freezing soups, curries, sauces and such.
gigi.hotchkiss January 24, 2020
Thanks for a great article, Eric! I was doing some of these things already, so it was nice to get some validation. :) Love love love Better Than Bouillon - I use it all the time! They even have a mushroom stock, which is fabulous. You've inspired me to work on #2 - buying more pantry-bound carbohydrates, esp legumes!
Eric K. January 24, 2020
Yes, people seem to adore the mushroom bouillon. Thanks for stopping by. :)