Man, what a meal!

Posted in Culture

Cooking is something of an art form – one that many people struggle to master. An initiative at Dernancourt Uniting Church aims to help men over the age of 50 who lack confidence in the kitchen.

Man What a Meal is a free, five-week cooking and healthy eating program for men, supported through a grant provided by the Office of Ageing, Grants for Seniors. The first and second programs ran in February, April and May. The final program will be beginning in late June.

Man What a Meal was created by Lisa Atwell, a member of Dernancourt Uniting Church, who identified a need amongst older men in the local community.

“I am a dietitian, so I’ve run these sorts of programs in the past in a work capacity,” Lisa explains. “But, this time, I decided apply for a grant, run the program in my own time, and help some of the men to develop some skills and confidence.”

Many older men have never had the opportunity to learn about health, nutrition or cooking. This can become a problem as some men age, particularly if their wives or other family members are no longer able to cook for them. It can be easy for men to turn to unhealthy options, such as takeaway food or microwave dinners, when they are unsure of how to cook a meal for themselves.

Man What a Meal will help to battle this issue for the men who participate in the program in 2018.

“We had 11 men participating in the first program, and they have all grown in confidence with their cooking skills. So far I think the men have been most proud of their lasagne-making,” Lisa shares.

Each week of the program has a focus or theme to help men to learn about healthy eating and nutrition. This includes guidance on how to read food labels and how to modify recipes to make them healthier. At least three different dishes – often more – are cooked each week. These have covered stir fry and rice dishes, lasagne and pasta, egg-based dishes, and healthy sweets.

“We finish each week by sharing together over the food we have prepared. We discuss our favourite dishes and begin planning for the next week,” Lisa says.

The men who attend are drawn from the Dernancourt Uniting Church congregation, other local churches and denominations, and the wider community. They are each encouraged to try cooking one of the recipes they have learnt at home during the week.

“Participants have reported back that their families are enjoying their cooking, and it is obvious from the friendly banter in the kitchen that they have also developed some friendships through attending the program,” says Lisa.

“They are all relishing the opportunity to get in the kitchen and cook up a storm!”

The final Man What a Meal program will run on Saturdays, 10am-12.30pm, from 23 June to 21 July. Expressions of interest are currently being accepted for the final program.

“We’ve seen how Man What a Meal has had a positive impact on the lives of the men who have participated – and we’d love to share this more widely!” Lisa encourages.

“If other churches are interested in doing something similar, I am more than happy to share my session plans and resources.”

For more information about the upcoming Man What a Meal program, or to access associated plans and resources, please contact Lisa Atwell on 0400 790 438 or email lisaatwell80@gmail.com


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