Multicultural Meal Exchanges

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Photo courtesy: Susan O. Stephan

I love being a mom!  Watching my children learn and discover new things is truly amazing.  It is amazing to see how my boys change as they grow.  Being a mom has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  The joy and happiness that my children bring into my life is hard to describe, but other moms understand that feeling without any words needing to be said.

Being a good mom presents challenges.  I was finding it difficult to get my boys to eat healthy and nutritious meals.  I love to cook, but with our busy lives, it can sometimes be difficult to fit in all of the activities that we do plus making a healthy dinner.

My Spanish playgroups have played an integral role in my development as a mom.  Not only do my kids benefit and have fun playing with other children who speak Spanish, but I have met some wonderful women who have become my friends and support.  When my son was in the hospital for an operation last year, the moms from my playgroup supported us throughout this trying ordeal by bringing us meals during our stay in the hospital.  Fortunately, all turned out well for my son, but I will forever be grateful for the food that was provided by the moms in our playgroup.  There is something about food and its ability to create community.

As I pondered the best way to feed my sons healthy meals, I turned once again to my playgroup.  A friend from the group told me about an article that she had read about dinner exchanges.  I loved the idea, and we decided that our group would be perfect for trying this fun food exchange.  In a meal exchange, each participant makes multiples of the same meal based on the number of participants.  So if five people are participating in the exchange, you make five portions of the same meal.  The meals can be packaged in freezer bags or in disposable plastic ware.  Each of the participants in the exchange receives one of your meals, and you come home with five different meals from each participant.  Our group tries to make the exchange fun for the kids too, we have a snack and the kids can play together.

The dinner exchange can be both economical and a time saver.  By taking home a variety of different meals, it’s less tempting to go to dinner or even order a pizza when you have a fresh and healthy dinner in your freezer or refrigerator.  Our first meal exchange gave us healthy, home-cooked meals.  I also liked that it introduced me to new dishes and cuisines.  I especially enjoyed the dish of mote pillo that one our moms from Ecuador prepared.

The meal exchange has not only helped me to feed healthy meals to my family, but it has also exposed me to new dishes and cuisines.  A meal exchange can be a great way to have fun, experience new and exotic dishes, and most importantly have healthy dinners ready and waiting for your family.

Susan O. Stephan is a credentialed Spanish Teacher in the state of California who earned her Master’s degree in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught in Spain, Japan and the United States. Although currently on leave from her job, she continues to use her teaching skills with her sons and in her Spanish speaking play groups. Her blog-

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