Single Parent Households: How to Make Healthy Meals With One Cook

Angela Jenkins

| 4 min read

It can be frustrating cooking each and every night for your family. Most parents are tired and rushed for time, trying to make decisions to please everyone’s taste buds and keep it healthy. That’s especially true for a single parent.

Time Savers

Here are some tips to help the dinner process be a successful, less stressful one:
Plan Ahead: This is helpful and a great way to save time. Depending on how often you go grocery shopping, plan your meals first and then make a list. This saves time because you will have your meal ideas prepared and your grocery list complete. What an accomplishment!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could cook for one whole month at a time? Just take out meals as necessary and heat them? This method really only takes one or two cooking days, then you are freed up for the rest of the month, save for heating the already prepared meals. If this interests you, check out Frugal Mom’s Guide to Cooking Once a Month.
Bad Fruits and Veggies: Does your produce go bad before you have a chance to eat or prepare it? Certain fruits and vegetables produce ethylene, a gas that can make other produce go bad prematurely. To avoid this, keep ethylene-producing fruits and veggies away from those that do not produce the gas.
  • Ethylene-producing: apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes
  • Ethylene-sensitive: apples, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, lettuce and other greens, potatoes, summer squash, watermelons
Tip: cut up and store veggies the day you go to the market to save on time when preparing meals.
Fresh Herbs: Buying seasonings and herbs can be expensive. If fresh herbs year-round sound good to you, try potting herb plants and displaying them on the windowsill in the kitchen. Not only will you save money, but your meals will taste better and your kitchen will have inexpensive décor and a beautiful smell.
Kids Can Cook: Enlist your children to help you with dinner. If they are smaller, ask them to set the table for you. If they are older, ask them to prepare the salad or get the drinks on the table. Whatever the age, there is usually a task that they can help with to help you save time and energy.

Healthy Meals For Around $10

Whether you are living paycheck to paycheck like a lot of Americans or just want to save a buck or two, here are some recipes that will feed up to four for around $10. If there are leftovers, cover and refrigerate them for the next day’s lunch.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 box of bow tie noodles (16 ounce box $1.59)
2 cans of tuna in water (2 cans at $2.18)
1 bag of frozen vegetables ($.99)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (2 cans at $3.98)
Total: $8.74
Cook noodles according to directions on the box and strain. Add tuna, cream of mushroom soup and veggies, stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated all the way through.
1 box thin spaghetti noodles ($1.15)
1 jar spaghetti sauce ($1.79)
1 pound lean ground beef ($3.99)
1 onion ($.99)
1 head garlic ($.75 for whole head)
1 green pepper ($1.59 pound – peppers usually don’t weigh one pound, so cost will be slightly less)
Total $10.26
Cook noodles according to directions on the box. Brown the beef. Cut onion, garlic and green pepper. Heat sauce, add veggies. Add beef to the sauce when cooked. Serve noodles when cooked and top with spaghetti sauce.
Shepherd’s Pie (without crust)
1 pound lean beef ($3.99 pound)
1 bag frozen vegetables ($.99)
1 pound red potatoes ($1.29)
Shredded cheese ($3.99 bag)
Total: $10.26
Boil water, add potatoes. Cook until tender. In the meantime, brown the beef. Once potatoes are cooked, mash them. Add to the bottom of a baking dish. Layer next with beef then veggies. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until veggies are cooked through.
My husband has made our family these three meals numerous times. They are easy and delicious. Give them a try!
**The prices listed above on most products are an average and may be different in your grocery store.
Do you have tips to share for making meals as a single parent?

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