How to Manage a Single Parent Household

Cooking Tips for Single Parents

One of the biggest overall challenges single parents often face is the constant struggle with managing their budgets and time, and this is especially true when it comes to making smart choices at the supermarket, as well as creating quick yet nutritious meals. But there are things you can do to make feeding your family easier.

First, consider the best days and places to shop. While Saturdays tend to be a particularly popular day for tackling the grocery list, Sunday nights might prove to be a much better option, both in terms of less traffic and bigger savings, as you can use coupons from your morning paper and circulars. Also -- while it may require more legwork -- there are other resources aside from traditional grocery stores to consider when it comes to potential savings, including farmer's markets and local co-ops.

If time is a big obstacle, many grocery stores now offer online shopping and home delivery for a nominal fee (usually around $5-$10 total). Most also give you the option to save your shopping lists in their system for future orders, which can be a big help if you tend to repurchase the same staples.

In terms of what to buy and serve your children, a good general rule of thumb is to try to avoid prepackaged foods. Not only to those tend to cost more, but they also offer less nutritional value overall. Opt instead for building meals out of healthy staples such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy choices. If you can, try to set aside a block of time to make several meals at once that can be stored in the freezer throughout the week until you're ready to use them. For creative recipe ideas, you might want to add a parenting, lifestyle or cooking magazine subscription to your birthday or holiday wish list. Many monthly publications offer suggestions for quick, affordable recipes, such as 20-minute meals, dinners that cost $10 or less to make, or creative ways to use leftovers.

It might also be fun to invite the kids to plan one of the menus for the week, and -- if they're old enough -- help in its preparation as well. There are numerous benefits to this approach: You can get a little help in the kitchen and a chance to spend more time with your children, too. The bonus is that you're teaching them lessons about responsibility and nutrition at the same time. Housekeeping can also be an opportunity to teach your kids a thing or two, which you'll learn more about on the next page.