By: Revanche

Shopping for the single life

August 10, 2010

While washing dishes, or really just scrubbing at the balsamic vinegar charcoal that PiC managed to burn into my new Corningware Simply Lite, I ruminated on the differences in our buying habits.  This was prompted by the new tiny bottle of dishwashing liquid he set out last week to replace the last bottle of three he’d purchased while moving into his last abode more than 4 years ago.

I remember, faintly, taking him to the store and teaching him about doubling and stacking coupons, those many years ago.  We bought those three small bottles for pennies on the dollar and I proudly sent him on his way with newfound knowledge of coupon clipping. I had no clue that, as a basically single person (we were LD at the time), he would not finish the stash until I moved up years later.

In total contrast, I’ve always shopped in bulk for household goods. Toilet tissue, any kind of cleaning supplies, detergents, Q-tips: anything that could be used up had to be bought in bulk because 4 people would go through the stash like nobody’s business.  I reflexively calculate how many coupons I can gather before a grocery or household run, and figure out how to store it later.

The mentality was that if I was out of something, I had to buy enough for the whole household – never just that I had to replace my own.  Besides, anyone with siblings knows that once the irresponsible sibling runs out of stuff, your stuff is toast.  It was some form of self-preservation.  (So was my well developed habit of hoarding and hiding the stashes so that said sibling couldn’t use it up when I wasn’t looking. MY root beer, dammit!) 

It’s a bit disconcerting now when I shop with PiC.  In a full-size household, I thought, you buy whenever the prices are excellent because you will need and use it.  In a this-size household, I’m having to hold back a bit** and realize that we actually might not use three tubs of detergent before Christmas and that it’s not actually necessary to stock up quite as much as I used to.

**Except when it comes to canned tomatos and cereal. The man consumes as much cereal in a week as I do regular food.  If he keeps eating at a 1 (my) bowl to 1 (his) box ratio, I’m going to have to start hiding a stash!

Just another oddity of this stage of my life!  Watch, when I finally adjust, we’ll add more mouths to feed. Furry, slobbery, doggery mouths.

11 Responses to “Shopping for the single life”

  1. I had a similar change. Both my children are in college…but my shopping habits didn’t change. And I have a large pantry. So I found myself with maybe 50 cans of tomatoes, 25 cartons of broth…and so on. All supercheap from Big Lots. About 4 months ago, I decided to buy little and clean out the pantry. I’m still doing it!

  2. Shelley says:

    According to the Tightwad Gazette, breakfast cereal costs as much as steak. I’ve never done the math myself as we have toast for breakfast. I’d start stashing if I were you!

  3. Airam says:

    This is my problem with cooking. Even after moving out of my parents house years ago I still can’t quite get the hang of cooking for only one or two people… thankfully it makes for good leftovers!

  4. Nicole says:

    Ha, yes, I had the same problem when I moved out from cooking/shopping for 4 to cooking/shopping for 2. It takes a little while to readjust. I am physically incapable of cooking for 1.

  5. Jersey Mom says:

    Shopping for a family sure is different than shopping for yourself or two people. Like you mentioned, when you shop for the entire family, you need to take many other people’s needs into consideration.

  6. I have three kids, so I never seem to have enough food. However, I use coupons/sales, whatever I can to get things cheap. I buy as much as I think our family will use until the next sale.

    I also buy a lot of dishsoap when it is cheap!

  7. Mr. BFS and I still buy in bulk, just every 2-3 months instead of every 2-4 weeks like some households have to…I like it since I HATE shopping.

  8. Jenna says:

    I feel your pain! I’m living with my younger brother for the summer. And he uses one towel, leaves it wet on the floor so the following morning he gets another clean towel! I’ve resorted to hiding my one-towel-a-week towel in my room so I’m guaranteed it in the morning!

  9. SDXB was a hoarder of food — he called it “buying food futures.” I called it “Klingon food”: he would buy anything, and I mean ANYTHING, if it was on sale. 😀

    With him out the door, I buy food futures according to a plan: try to have one to three months’ worth of certain staples on hand. The freestanding freezer helps a lot with that strategy.

    In the cooking for one dept., BTW, SDXB (who IS a good cook!) routinely fixes family-size meals and then freezes the left-overs in single-serving portions. He always has something good in the freezer to eat for those days when he’s too busy to cook.

  10. ashley says:

    I’ve lived alone for years (well besides roommates who buy their own food) so I don’t quite get the whole stockpiling food thing. I generally just buy food when I need it for a recipe. Actually, even though I try not to, I am often wasting food, since a recipe will call for 1 Tbsp of something and I can’t use up the rest in time. Plus I always end up eating the same meal all week.

  11. […] Five years ago: I was learning how to shop for a smaller family […]

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