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Make Your Meals More Fun with Creative Problem Solving

A table of food.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been exploring ways to make the most use of your time when you have 5, 20, or 60 minutes available to you. Rather than spinning your wheels and worrying about your job search or a workplace issue, try some fun activities that can provide insight.

If you enjoyed using music for inspiration and observing your surroundings, you’ll love this week’s sensory experience: taste! This week, we encourage you to implement ways of making your meals fun. Instead of absentmindedly eating through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, check out these ideas for doing it differently.

If you have five minutes…

Select an herb, spice, or condiment you’ve never used or rarely eat, and incorporate it into your meals for a few days. Be sure you use it for at least one breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the course of the experiment, even if it seems like a challenge (allspice on your mac & cheese? Hmm...). Don’t take the easy way out by avoiding your selection during a meal. See what you can come up with. Observe what you learn about yourself- how much risk you take, your taste preferences, and your creativity.

If you have 20 minutes…

Plan your meals for the next couple of days so that you use only what is currently in your refrigerator and pantry. This challenge lets you exercise your skills in problem-solving, improvisation, and creativity. For example, if you have no milk, might Ready-Whip do in its place? Will you need to scrap a recipe and go with a completely different option? Reflect on what your choices say about you- if you change one of your meal ideas, does it indicate that you avoid problems or that you’re really good at deciphering when the odds are stacked too high to efficiently gain success?

If you have an hour…

Don’t eat alone. Whether you dine at home or go out, be sure you have at least one dining companion. You can share one of the meals you dreamed up in the 20-minute exercise, or ask a friend to brave the “new spice” experiment with you. Put your phone on silent. Connect. Afterwards, reflect on insights you gained, improvements to your mood, and appreciation for the companionship.

I hope these activities inspire fun, play, and creativity while reducing the strain of solving stressful problems (such as finding a job). For each activity, the one that follows can be built upon it, so if it turns out you have more time than you realized, continue on with the next activity.

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By Victoria Crispo

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