Shopping for One 

Wednesday June 25, 2008; F07

Perishable bulk Wednesday June 25, 2008; F07items generally are impractical unless you are disciplined enough to portion them out and put extras into the freezer immediately upon returning from the mega-store. I am not that disciplined.

I would rather make two or three trips to the market every week than buy five pounds of ground beef that I have to freeze or 10 green bell peppers that I am sick of looking at by the third day. (Then again, I shop three blocks from my house, so I either walk there or stop on the way home from someplace else.)

Take advantage of farmers markets. On any given day in the Washington area, stands are set up that are worth browsing (see listings at The produce, meats and cheeses are local and fresh, the farmers often have recipe tips and no one looks at you funny when you buy only one apple.

· Grow your own herbs. Even if you have room for just one pot, a little fresh basil, parsley or thyme can go a long way toward perking up a dish for one or two. Less waste, less expense.

· Seek variety. Try different markets for unusual produce to keep your shopping and cooking routine from becoming boring. A layout different from your usual grocery store's can inspire new ideas.

· Keep an insulated bag in your trunk. This is great for when you accidentally discover something wonderful that needs to be kept cold or hot for a while before you can get home.

· Treat fish like gold . Look for the freshest whole fish you can find: clear-eyed and without a trace of that fishy smell indicating spoilage. Cook it the same day for the best taste. Freeze it if you can't get to it by Day Two.