Extension News

Eat at Home: It’s Inexpensive, Nutritious and Promotes Family Communication

8/6/2009

AMES, Iowa – Family mealtime at home promotes communication among family members, plus it’s a way to save money and eat nutritiously. Patricia Steiner, nutrition and health specialist with Iowa State University Extension, encourages Iowans to compare the cost and time needed for a fast food meal with one prepared at home. She points out that when families eat out or use processed foods, they are purchasing labor as well as the food.

Keep meals simple and easy. A family meal doesn’t have to be elaborate or include expensive ingredients. A simple meal, eaten with others while sharing conversation, is worth more than the most elaborately prepared meals.

Tips to save money eating at home
ISU Extension nutrition and health specialists provide research-based ideas for saving money and focusing on healthy food.
* Check out Fast Food for Busy Families (www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/eat/fastfood/) on the Spend Smart Eat Smart Web site.
* Prepare double or triple batches of favorite recipes to have on hand when you are in a hurry. 
* Save money by purchasing ingredients in quantity to make several batches. 
* Make a list of foods that can be prepared quickly such as scrambled eggs, fruit and toast, stir fry meat and vegetables.
* Try the recipes in "Healthy Meals in a Hurry –14 Main Dishes for Now and Later" (PM 2035) available for $2.50 from ISU Extension county offices and the Extension Online Store, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/store.

Prepare and eat more meals at home
That’s one of six key behaviors endorsed on a new resource on the national Cooperative Extension site eXtension (pronounced E-extension). Families, Food and Fitness, http://www.extension.org/families_food_fitness, focuses on helping Americans become more fit by eating healthier and exercising more. ISU Extension faculty and specialists contribute to the 24 featured topics on eXtension.

Try a recipe from the Healthy Meals in a Hurry booklet
Tuna Bunsteads
6 sandwiches

Ingredients
2 (6-ounce) cans low sodium tuna, water packed
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons pickle relish
6 hamburger buns

Eat NOW directions
1. Combine tuna, cheese, mayonnaise, and relish, stirring until well combined.
2. Measure about one-third cup for each sandwich and place inside buns.
3. Heat sandwiches.

Oven
Wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.

Microwave
Place sandwiches on a microwave safe dish and lightly cover with waxed paper. Heat on high until heated through, about 30 to 60 seconds per sandwich.

Freeze for LATER use
1. Combine tuna, cheese, mayonnaise, and relish, stirring until well combined.
2. Measure about one-third cup for each sandwich and place inside buns.
3. Wrap each sandwich in foil and place in freezer bag. Label with date and cooking instructions. Store in freezer up to 4 months.

To serve LATER
Oven
Remove frozen sandwiches from plastic bag and place on baking sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Microwave
Unwrap sandwiches and place on a microwave-safe plate. Lightly cover with waxed paper. Heat on low (30 percent power) for 1 minute and then on high for an additional 30 to 60 seconds per sandwich.

Health Hint
Use whole grain buns for more fiber.

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Contacts :

Patricia Steiner, Field Specialist, (319) 754-7556, psteiner@iastate.edu

Lynette Spicer, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-1327, lspicer@iastate.edu