Single mothers seem to be the main custodial parent in a divorce and mothers aren't always the parent who makes the most money, so it falls to mothers to find ways to economize and stretch that tight budget. This turns out to be quite a learning experience for both you and your children if you work it correctly. This also applies to single dads.
Are you aware that in a supermarket, there are intense marketing strategies at work to encourage you to spend lots of your tight budget money there? If you learn the strategy, you can stick with that food budget more easily.
I think it's important to explain to your children that those TV ads are made to be tempting so the parents spend their money. They might not have the family's best interests as their motivation. Those prepared foods might be tempting, but they aren't the most nutritional or cost effective. This could avoid scenes inside the supermarket if they understand your approach up front.
Here are some basic ideas that will help you as a custodial single parent stretch your food budget dollars.
- Make it at home. Already-prepared foods cost a lot more money than the foods you prepare in your own kitchen. - Eat it fresh. Fresh fruits and vegetables are less expensive and more nutritional than canned or frozen ones.
- Grow it yourself if you can. This is by far the most cost effective. You can freeze the excess.
- Look on the lower shelves. The items more highly prices are at your face level. Generics are on the lower shelves, and they cost less.
- End cap displays are not necessarily cheaper. They are there to tempt you. Stick with your list.
- Shop the Center Aisles first. They contain the essentials. The outside aisles are tempting but not necessarily essential.
- Discuss with your kids before you go inside the store. Let them know that you will not be buying things that are not on the list. Listen to their desires for the shopping list and try to work a few into your budget. Products with kids appeal are displayed at their eye level and it can create hissy fits unless you set the rules ahead of time.
- Ignore the smells. Those cinnamon rolls make you drool, but you can make them yourself at home less expensively.
- At the check stand, you are again bombarded with things you don't really need. Be strong, and stick with your list.
As a divorced single mom or dad, it's wise to sit down with your children and as part of their learning, educate them on the wisdom of eating fresh vs. prepared foods. By all means, as a special treat, buy them something that is already made so they don't feel left out. Encourage them to help you build that shopping list each time you go shopping. What would they enjoy for lunch? What would they like for dinner? If they partner with you, this could get rid of temper tantrums or pouting inside the store. When they become a little older, you can give them the seemingly tight budget monies, a calculator, the list, and let them do the list and the shopping for you while you wait. Your children will become skilled at value-based shopping, too.