Sharon McDonald, MEd, RD, LDN | Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety Specialist
Penn State Extension
March is National Nutrition Month! This yearly event of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to take steps towards a healthier way of eating. The theme for 2020, is “Eat Right – Bite by Bite.” One way to accomplish this is to learn skills to create tasty meals at home.
With busy schedules it may seem easier to just stop at a fast food place on the way home from work. However, research shows preparing and eating meals at home not only improves the quality of your diet, but also strengthens family connections, especially between parents and children.
Here are some tips for creating tasty meals at home:
Keep healthful ingredients on hand. Stock your pantry with staples such as whole grain rice or pasta, tomato sauce, canned vegetables and fruits, broth and canned tuna or chicken. This way if you forget to take something from the freezer you have ingredients to put together a simple meal to satisfy hungry mouths.
Get everyone involved to lighten the workload. Children of any age can help, from preparing a simple food item to setting the table to putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher. The more children are involved the more likely they are to consume the food you prepare.
Keep food safety in mind by being sure everyone washes their hands. If you are cooking meat use a food thermometer to check the final temperature of the food to assure doneness.
Be adventurous and try new flavors, foods and recipes. Select a new food or recipe to try once a week or once a month to add variety to your diet.
When it comes to meal preparation, sometimes it is easy to get in the rut of preparing the same foods all the time. If you are looking to try new foods or to enhance your cooking skills, Penn State Extension is offering a series of classes called Let’s Cook. These classes can provide the opportunity to learn about different healthy eating patterns and try new foods at the same time. During March and April classes on cooking Mediterranean, with Diabetes, Vegetarian and for Weight Management will be offered. In the classes you will learn about the health benefits of the foods included in these eating patterns, tips on meal planning for healthier eating, as well as the opportunity for hands on food preparation of simple, delicious recipes to prepare at home. For more information on these classes contact Rozi Horvath at the Centre County Extension Office, 814-359-7484.