By Beth Murphy
As part of a yearlong focus on health through the theme Women’s Ways of Wellness, DWN sponsored a meal planning event this fall to provide tangible ideas for improving physical wellness. Participants gathered for “Making It Count – Tips for Successful Meal Planning” on November 20 at the Lincoln Park Student Center.
The event began with a networking opportunity for all attending, which is among the greatest benefits of DWN programming. Attendees introduced themselves, and then Inez De La Fuente gave a presentation on strategies for successful meal planning. One of the primary issues is making a commitment to doing a better job of meal planning, especially as a vehicle for promoting better eating habits. Even though life gets busy for everyone, especially for working mothers, the benefits outweigh the costs.
Participants shared their ideas as well, giving tips that had worked in their own kitchens:
- Cutting up all vegetables purchased at once saves time when the meal that uses the vegetables is prepared; some of the vegetables can be refrigerated, but others can be frozen to avoid waste when buying in bulk.
- Perishables can be cooked or consumed first, which also avoids waste.
- Attendees suggested cooking meals on one day for the rest of the week, but noted that you can get tired of whatever meal is prepared by the end of the week.
- Others mentioned that you can have meal-sharing partners where you exchange meals that each of you has prepared; in addition, you can freeze part of the “batch” of whatever you make on your designated cooking day.
A number of attendees talked about the stress associated with being a working mother and feeling the pressure to cook all meals “from scratch.” Many agreed that cooking a full dinner after working all day is not always appealing, so preparing meals in advance for the week is far more beneficial and healthy. All who attended were provided with copies of shopping lists that noted each day so planners can determine the ingredients needed for the next week’s meals. The attendees also mentioned a variety of storage containers for storing meals prepared in advance.
While bringing lunch to work usually resulted in eating a more healthy lunch, some said but that it also usually meant eating lunch at their desks and missing out on a chance to take a walk during their lunch time. That’s when Kristen Pengelly’s contribution became highly relevant. Kristen provided all attendees with a Faculty/Staff Pass good for seven consecutive days for use of the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center. Kristen noted the variety of activities and facilities that are available, including a nutritionist who works with individuals to schedule multiple consulting sessions (which require payment).
This meal planning event was successful in providing a forum for DePaul women to meet, network and learn more about a topic of interest to them that contributes to their Ways of Wellness.
Beth Murphy is a member of the DWN Marketing & Communications team and an Associate Professor at DePaul University.