By the time I was in high school, I was preparing dinner for my parents and sisters at least twice a week.
So, when I got married at the age of 17 years, I was very comfortable with menu planning, shopping, and meal preparation.
The problem was that living with my parents I cooked for a family of five and when I got married I continued to cook for five.
Needless to say, there were some weight issues early on in the marriage - not to mention wasted food and food dollars.
It was necessary for me to re-evaluate my learned behaviors regarding meal preparation and adjust to my new life style.
Many of us face the challenges of purchasing, storing, and preparing food.
This may be especially true for older adults living alone but, certainly, includes singles and pairs of all ages.
Buying the right amount so as not to waste any food is a challenge for people eating alone or for those who are cooking for two.
Large packages of meat and vegetables are often intended for families of four or more, and even a head of lettuce can spoil before one person can use it all.
Menu planning and preparing balanced diets can be issues as well.
Too often, individuals who live alone have poor eating habits.
Some problems include consuming too many processed and prepackaged foods that are high in calories, fat, and sodium; eating fewer than two meals a day; and not eating the recommended number of fruits, vegetables, and milk products on a daily basis.
The Food Guide Pyramid is a good tool to use when planning meals as it provides guidelines for making food choices aimed at improving the quality of the average American diet.
If menu planning and eating a balanced diet are some of the issues you grapple with on a daily basis, you may be interested in attending the Cooking for One program.
This community program is provided by the Juneau District Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with the Juneau Widowed Persons Service sponsored by the AARP Alaska State Office.
The program consists of two sessions. Session One will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Mendenhall Mall Library. The first presentation, "Nutrition for Optimal Health," will be provided by Dr. Sonja Koukel, Extension faculty. Immediately following the first presentation, Helen Idzorek, Extension Education Program Coordinator, will provide information on menu planning and shopping tips for individuals who are cooking for one or two. Session Two consists of a hands-on activity that includes food preparation and taste testing. Additionally, food storage tips and guidelines will be provided.
Through cooperation with Juneau Community Schools, Cooperative Extension is able to provide the food preparation program for a low registration fee of $10 that covers all supplies. The $10 fee must be paid at the time of registration due to limited space.
The cooking portion of the program will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, April 21, in the Juneau-Douglas High School home economic kitchen. To register for this session, contact the Extension office 465-8749. For further information regarding the Cooking for One program, contact Sue Nielsen, Juneau Widowed Persons Service, 586-6424.
Dr. Koukel is the Juneau District Agent for the Home Economics Programs of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.