How Can Single Moms Provide Their Kids with Quick, Cheap Healthy Meals?

By Melissa Chapman

According to nutritionists Lauren Slayton, MS, RD and Caren Tishfield, RD of Mindful Menus, a company on a mission to enable people to make health-conscious food choices, most single Moms don’t have a lot of extra time in their days. However, there are relatively simple ways Moms can incorporate nutritious, low calorie food into their family’s diet…on a budget!
“Things are more challenging for a single mother who works long or late hours and when she gets home there she doesn’t have that extra set of hands to handle homework duties while she cooks the chicken breasts,“ says Slayton and Tishfield. “Their best option is to create weekly menu plans.”
Check out their tips for preparing dishes in batches and using leftovers in innovative ways.
Yummy Breakfast Bites:
Make a large batch of steel cut oats that you can store in the fridge (or freezer) in single serving bowls. Offer different varieties; one with bananas or walnuts and another with raisins and cinnamon. These are far healthier than the instant varieties and if prepared in advance they’re not so time consuming to heat up in morning.
Freeze your weekend whole wheat flour pancakes or whole wheat French toast; both less expensive and healthier than the store-bought Aunt Jemima or Eggo brands.
Delicious Lunch and Dinner Options:
Let dinner leftovers do double duty and serve as lunch for the next day. For example, if chicken was on last night’s menu, pair the breast meat with low fat cheese and a sliced tomato in whole wheat pita for a lunch time sandwich or mix it with low fat mayonnaise or dijonaise for a healthy chicken salad.
Make a batch of turkey meatballs, freeze them individually, defrost as needed and put over whole wheat pasta. After all, pasta takes just minutes to boil!
Prepare batches of soups and freeze; lentil, chicken, veggie and vegetable barley soups can all serve as a meal or as a meal accompaniment. Slow cookers are also a single mom’s friend; just put the ingredients in first thing in the morning, set the timer, and you’ll have soup, chili or a one-pot meal ready when you return home.
Bake a vegetable lasagna with whole wheat noodles, low fat cheese and as many vegetables as you can fit in (spinach is a popular one) and freeze for future use.
Healthy Snacking Treats:
Fruit kebobs; let kids touch and feel different fruits and familiarize themselves with them. This often entices kids to be more willing to try new things!
Healthy Nachos; baked chips with low fat cheese and salsa (an adult should be on hand for the baking part).
English muffin pizza; whole wheat English muffin, low fat cheese and tomato sauce.
Turkey roll ups with low fat mayonnaise or low fat ranch dressing.
Yogurt parfaits made with low fat granola or another high fiber cereal (Kashi Mighty Bites and Barbara’s Puffins are popular) and fresh berries.
“There are so many benefits to eating healthier fats and less refined carbohydrates,” says Slayton and Tishfield. “It can translate into increased energy, enhanced immunity and better concentration and sleeping patterns.”
Slayton and Tishfield are also big proponents of take –out food which they assert can offer healthy alternatives as long as single Moms know how to order properly.“No one has to be super woman; you can also take out part of meal and prepare the other part at home,” says Slayton and Tishfield. “We love organic rotisserie chickens served with baked sweet potato fries. Or Moms can purchase Bell and Evan’s or Health is Wealth chicken nuggets and make some peas and carrots to round out the meal.”
Slayton and Tishfield offer these best Bets for Take-out Nights.
Chinese Food: Always request no msg which is especially important for children because of potential neurodegenerative effects. Some tried and true favorites include; sautéed white meat General Tso’s Chicken, chicken and broccoli with white sauce on side; and always request brown rice instead of white.
Japanese Food: Edamame, chicken/shrimp/beef skewers and steamed dumplings are always a big hit. If your kids are not sushi fans, have them try brown rice veggie sushi rolls or California rolls. Salmon and /or chicken teriyaki, are also kid favorites, because of their sweet sauces, and still healthy with their sides of veggies and brown rice.
Mexican Food:. Chicken fajitas in whole wheat wraps!
“Last but not least parents need to realize that what they eat is setting an example for their children,” says Slayton and Tishfield. “Children are more likely to do what their parents do than what their parents say.”
For a list of foods you should ALWAYS have on hand in your pantry check out the SMW Blog 

For more information about these clever nutritionists and their innovative product; Mindful Menus Wherever, a small, slick card holder that holds 10 different nutritional cheat sheets for a variety of cuisines, check out:


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