Single Parent Prepping: Less is Not Weaker

For a single parent on a budget, sometimes it’s tough to just put food on the table, let alone stockpile enough back to get you and your kids through a SHTF situation.

Under the circumstances, preparing for survival it’s still possible, though it will take a bit of effort. You also have to consider how you will protect your kids after the fact, and also teach them how to survive.

Today we’re going to offer some suggestions to help you get started on your path to single parent prepping!


Especially if you have children who depend on you, it’s imperative that you have enough food stockpiled to get you through a disaster. The problem is that food is expensive and just buying enough to get you through the week can be a struggle. You’re going to have to think outside the box.

  • Use coupons and take advantage of BOGOs. Sunday papers have great coupon flyers and if you pair them with BOGO offers, you can often get food for free, or nearly so. There are many online sites that teach you how to work the system to get the best deals so find one for your area.
  • Grow your own food. Plants are inexpensive and seeds are downright cheap, so consider growing some of your own food for eating now and canning for later. Even if you only have window boxes, you’ll be surprised at the amount of food that you can grow.
  • Join a local farmer’s co-op. Often farmers get together and offer package deals on a variety of foods. You can purchase a membership and receive a box of food on a regular basis for considerably less than what you’d pay in the store. You’re also building a network when you work with your local farmers that may serve you and your family well in a post-disaster situation.


{adinserter bph}Depending upon what disasters you’re preparing for, you may need to find an alternative place to stay.

Having a plan for a safe place to go to in an emergency is always a good idea, regardless.

Since your money may be tight as a single parent, prepping for disaster by finding shelter may be a bit of a challenge. Building a standard bunker may not be possible. Here are a few ideas.

  • Buy or rent a home with a cellar. You have to find a place to live anyway, so when you’re looking, find a place that already has a cellar or some other form of emergency shelter.
  • Build an inexpensive shelter. There are several ways that you can build your own fortress right in your own yard for very little money. Cellars, earth houses and bag fortresses don’t take up much space and they cost very little if you use recycled or repurposed materials.
  • Network with your neighbors. You most assuredly have skills that you can trade for shelter. Whether it’s knowledge or a physical skill, offer to trade it in a disaster situation for shelter for you and your children.


This may be the toughest part of single parent prepping: defending your family. Nobody wants to think that physical defense will be necessary but the truth is that it’s a possibility. Though you may think that defending your family isn’t possible by yourself, that’s not the case. If you’re a single mom it may be that you’re smaller but that doesn’t mean that you’re weaker.

  • Buy a gun and learn to use it. If you’re serious about defending your family, you need to own at least one weapon that you know how to use. A .38 is a good handgun for both a beginner and a person on a budget. It’s effective, easy to handle and the ammo is relatively inexpensive. A rifle may not be bad either because you can hunt with it if SHTF.
  • Take a self-defense class with your kids. You and your kids stand together through everything else. This is no exception. Local community centers and YMCAs often offer self-defense classes for free or for very little money to families.
  • Make your home secure. Get a dog, have solid locks on all your doors and windows, landscape your yard so that it’s difficult to gain access to your home. Do what you need to do batten down the hatches so that you can keep your kids safe.

As a single parent prepping for disaster, there is a greater burden on you because you don’t have anybody but yourself to depend upon. You’ll need to educate yourself as much as possible on everything from medicinal plants to home defense.

Build networks with your neighbors and other single parents and start building your stockpile. As you’ve probably already learned, you can do anything that you want to; it may just take a bit more effort.

Happy prepping!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • This article is lacking in so many ways. Food — no suggestions for learning to cook from scratch, cutting back on extras and using the extra $1.00-5.00 a week to put back beans, pasta, rice, spices, etc. Most single moms are in apartments, many without balconies and very little option to grow food, much less find ways to purchase dirt, pots, etc.

    Shelter — why only a hunker down in a basement attitude, something that would only work during a tornado? What about an evacuation due to flooding or wildfire? No backup tents and other camping gear bought in a garage sale? And garage sale shopping is another skill that can help in a bartering situation — understanding the value of things and learning how to negotiate a better deal.

    Security — while a .38 revolver is less complicated with fewer moving parts, it’s not always a good option for a lot of women. Many women find a .380 is easier to handle, as long as it’s not a small pocket gun. A revolver limits you to 5 or 6 shots and a slow reload with a heavier trigger pull, whereas most semi-autos have at least 6 rounds per magazine and a much quicker reload, a bit easier to repeat fire and conceal. I also believe a physical safety switch is imperative as it prevents any accidental discharge by a child — imagine mom juggling groceries, baby in arm, purse, keys, and a toddler or two running around when firearm is jostled loose from purse or holster and child offers to help Mommy by picking up what she dropped. Natural response is to slide the finger inside the trigger guard and rest on the trigger, then lift and aim it at Mommy to return. More semi-autos have a side safety switch than do revolvers. A rifle — would be better to state the versatility of a .22 as opposed to a .308 hunting rifle. And while self-defense classes are valuable for both parent and child, to suggest the purchase of a firearm without advocating gun safety training for parent and child is a serious issue. Eddie Eagle training and a safety on a firearm would go a long way in preventing an accidental discharge by a child causing serious injury to mom. Also, any suggestion of firearm ownership should include discussions about storage.

    • MM, you make some good points in your reply, however the blog post is written for someone on a tight budget. Even a used 38 might cost a couple hundred dollars and is probably out priced for someone just trying to make ends meet.

      There is the ideal and the real. People on tight budgets are too often overwhelmed with the prospects of getting prepared so they often don’t even try. I think it best to educate and empower to start no matter what their finances might be so that they will be less inclined to be looking for a handout when a crisis happens.


    • Hey MM,
      Thanks for the comments. I have to respectfully disagree with the concept that most single moms live in apartments. Statistically, single parents are spread just about as evenly as 2-parent households throughout the housing gamut.
      Thank you for your suggestions about garage sales and camping equipment – those are great resources, along with thrift shops, Craigslist and other places to buy used equipment.
      I’m sorry that you feel that this article fell short; my goal was to offer a few tips to help people raising kids on their own get started on the path to prepping. Choosing what information to share in a limited space is often a challenge. 🙂
      You’re correct in that I should have stated that a safety course should accompany gun ownership. I did state that it was imperative to learn how to use it but in hindsight, I should have been more specific.
      Thanks again for your suggestions; that’s why our community works so well!

  • I have 2 cats so getting a dog isn’t very practical for me. Everyone knows dogs and cats don’t mix very well.

    • Dogs and cats do fine together. Best to get a puppy and a kitten same time so they can grow up together. I have four German Shepherds and a cat – all live inside our farmhouse much of the time. Even the barn cats and my dogs get along just fine. The real problem is are you smart enough to convey the message of “don’t fight with the cats” to your dogs. Some folks aren’t, therefore they have problems. Oh, don’t try to break into my house, even at night. Dogs are smart enough to know you don’t belong there. Shotgun owner knows that as well.

      • Well… Unfortunately, my cats are already several years old. So, the suggestion of getting both at same time when they’re very little is out of the question. My cats hate all other cats and their scared to death of dogs. Trust me. It’d never work.

        • No matter the age of the cat, getting a puppy can be a good thing even for the cats. I prefer staggering when I get dog and cat for just this reason. No rivalry, just acceptance of “who’s boss” is already established. I’ve seen 6 decades and most of them, I’ve done this. I would also add that if possible, a small dog is great as an alarm while a big dog can be a deterrent just from the sound of the barking, when both work together, much more of a deterrent even in an apt. IF you can’t get a large dog. Borrow a voice recorder and make that into the alarm system in case of unwanted intruders. 😉
          BTW: depending on the ages of your cats, they can be trained as guard cats. That’s what Siamese cats were bred for. Take it from me, cats are predators and I don’t know anyone who wants to ‘face down’ a cat no matter the size.

      • Btw, it almost sounds like you’re hinting I’m stupid or something because I might not be able to make the dogs not fight with cats. Not sure if I can or not as I’ve never owned a dog before (at least not since I was a kid) but intelligence has nothing to do with my ability or inability to do it. There are many reliable methods of measuring a person’s intelligence and I’m pretty sure what you’re so ridiculously claiming isn’t one of them.

  • I was a single mom. The article posted is good as far as it goes. Teaching and training doesn’t cost anything but time. No matter the age of the children, if there is a hot day, cold day, black out, or anything happening out of the normal, make those times into spontaneous adventures in what is possible.
    Food? Taking them on foraging adventures in the neighborhood. Teaching them what is edible and what’s not. This means you learning too. As you are doing this, you’re all learning the neighborhood and what’s there both good and bad. You may even invite the neighbor’s children or friends along too.
    Shelter? Same thing, take advantage of whatever is happening and do “what if’s”, some role playing first, then actual real life stuff. Start by indoor camping, blankets and a table, with ‘snacks’ for food. Later, tarp and blankets outside if possible, etc etc. There was a reason why children in earlier times had things in their pockets, some of which could be used to help them “just in case.” We know these as ‘everyday carry’ only we carry more. 😉
    Safety? Guns are great, but if you get one or more…it needs to be said to teach your children about gun safety. Also teach how to use a slingshot, martial arts, and work with your children.
    Single parents don’t often have much money. Even in a pinch, there is much which can be taught children so they are capable, just in case something happens to you. We hear of toddlers calling 911 for help because a mom or dad is down. Same for teaching them safety and what to do. I know, my child wander off while camping. Because she’d been taught what to do if we became separated, she was found within a few hours (though it seems longer). When we teach and include fun in doing it, our children can become more capable. There is so much more to being a parent than just school, watching tv or playing on the computer without scaring them. Then IF an event happens, they are more prepared instead of scared.

  • I had 3 cats and got the dog as a puppy. They didn’t like each other in the beginning, but the cats learned to coexist with the dog. They don’t love each other just excepted they have to live together. That’s good enough for me.

  • Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of groups of single parents that want to meet other single parents to prep with? I don’t really like the idea of a single parent or mom trying to fit in with other peoples families. You will always know that you are the outsider.

    • I too am a single mom, who would like info about other single parents who are trying to prep. I already live on a tight budget, so prepping is difficult. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • There are pages and groups on Facebook that are devoted to single women preppers as well as women preppers. It would also depend on where you are located. Some states have active groups, some have very little. You might start by checking with your state’s wildlife or parks & recreation departments and ask if there are groups of moms or single ladies that have regular camping or outdoors skills meetups or workshops. Many states have Women In the Outdoors programs that are aimed at teaching women different skills like hunting, shooting, fishing, etc. Start with the general knowledge issues and feel others out for what they are interested in, what their concerns are, if they are open to meeting more regularly to improve as well as share/teach the kids.