The Store-Bought Meats That Benefit Single Grocery Shoppers

In 2013, The Atlantic calculated that a person making $80,000 a year could lose over $1 million over the course of their lifetime just by being single. While the majority of that sum comes from things like tax breaks and housing, other, smaller factors can contribute, too. One small, simple inconvenience is food: Many single people struggle to save money while also avoiding contributing to the 119 billion pounds of food waste that Americans produce each year. For singles, buying in bulk is pointless, buy-one-get-one deals might as well be called buy-one-throw-one-away, and a standard-size freezer can only fit so many scraps and leftovers before starting to overflow.

Sure, cooking for one can have its benefits: You can cook whatever you want, whenever you want, without worrying about someone else's dietary needs or preferences. Still, more often than not, it's a frustrating experience. Meats are particularly tricky thanks to their short shelf life. As explains, many popular types of meat, like chicken, ground beef, or raw sausage, turn suspect after just two days. Fish goes bad after three. Die-hard carnivores can still get their fix, though. Rather than buying fresh meat, consider purchasing cured varieties like bacon, salami, and smoked salmon. Some types of cured meats last for months, and even the ones that don't last as long have an advantage over their uncured counterparts. Cold-smoked salmon, for example, can last for up to a week, while fresh salmon shouldn't be eaten after three days.

Cured meats can last much longer

To maximize your groceries' shelf life, look for dry-cured meats. Dry curing is a method of food preservation that involves packing meat with salt and letting it air dry. Sometimes, it involves smoking the meat, too. states that meats like prosciutto or Serrano ham can last for up to three months in the fridge. Keep in mind that cured meat won't last as long once you've opened the packaging or cut through its casing, since cutting the meat introduces bacteria and reduces the shelf life. A package of dry salami can theoretically last "indefinitely" in the refrigerator, but once cut, should be thrown away after three weeks.

Intentionally opting for cured meats over fresh ones won't make up for that lost $1 million, but it can help shave some money off your monthly grocery bill and dramatically reduce your food waste. Since cured meats are often sold at deli counters, you can get exactly as much as you need. They're well suited for simple meal combinations that come together quickly, too. Cured meats work well on sandwiches, in veggie bowls, and on top of pasta. Pancetta goes beautifully in any mushroom pasta recipe, and there are few things more satisfying than a homemade Italian sub decked with salami. Having a lazy night? Simply pair some cured meats with cheese, crackers, and fresh veggies. After all, when you're living alone, there's no one to complain that you made an elaborate charcuterie board instead of a hot meal.