Take your daughter grocery shopping with you! Let her help you pick things out. It's a great learning experience, and loads of fun. I often take my son with me (he is now 7), and he loves it. He actually gives me ideas- I never plan a weekly menu- just buy what's on sale that week, or what looks good. Going to Publix is a weekly adventure for us. I remember when my son was a toddler, he insisted on bying a small whole fish. I did, not sure how to prepare it and doubtful that he'd eat it. I threw it in a pan with some oil, salt and pepper, and guess what?- he ate it! He tried many new items this way, by picking them out himself.
For young kids, you don't need to cook anything fancy. Your main seasonings are butter, olive oil, and salt.
My son's first favorite recipe involved bread crumbs. Your daughter will love helping you with this: use thinly sliced chicken breasts, pork chops, or tilapia fillets. Mix 1 raw egg with a little water in one dish; put some Progresso italian bread crumbs in another dish. Put any vegetable oil in a frying pan (to cover the bottom). Dip the meat in egg, then in bread crumbs, and put in preheated pan. They cook very quickly! Turn once to brown the other side. Goes well with mashed potatoes: start them before the meat. Cut peeled raw potatoes in quaters or chunks, put in cold water to cover. Boil until soft. Drain, add some milk, butter, and salt, and mash! Frozen green peas, steamed for 3 min. in microwave, complete this truly homemade meal!
Here is a very easy dish for a novice cook: Spaghetti with meat sauce.
Put some ground beef in frying pan, and cook over medium heat, breaking up in pieces with a spatula, until no longer pink. Pour in Prego traditional pasta sauce, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 min. or so - longer is OK. In the meantime, cook spaghetti as directed. Drain and mix with the meat sauce. Goes well with some salad from the bag, plain for your daugher, bottled dressing for you. If your daughter doesn't like the salad, give her a cut-up pieces of fruit.
Also, it's OK to have hot dogs sometimes, or those insanely delicious Bubba burgers- they go from the freezer into the pan- so easy and fast!!! Serve corn or beans or other veggies alongside, and it will become a healthier meal.
A great time-saver are those pre-cut, bagged veggies that are redy to go into the microwave. Before I nuk them, I drizzle olive oil and grate some fresh garlic on them, and a sprinkle of salt.
Good luck V., I hope this helps!
P.S. I have a great deal of admiration for you and all the other single Moms out there!