The evidence shows that preparing wholesome meals at home can have a significant impact on both family health and household budgets, and experts from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension have summed up the basics in two articles packed with tips and facts. The articles are available on the Union County website, ucnj.org/rce.

“According to the evidence, households are in better shape when they focus on healthy, home cooked meals,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh. “I encourage everyone to take a look at the information and see how you can benefit by taking a few simple steps.”

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is supported in part by the Freeholder Board. It belongs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nationwide Extension program, aimed at providing the public with scientific research about community health and economics. Extension offices throughout the country are encouraging families to join the “Dine In” campaign on December 3, as part of an annual celebration of the family and consumer sciences profession.

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Some of the tips and observations provided by the Rutgers Extension experts are:

  • Make it a goal to cook once a week and work up to cooking more often.
  • Plan ahead to make better food choices. Keep healthy staples on hand, such as dried fruit, whole wheat pasta, "no-salt-added" canned vegetables, and frozen fruit.
  • Use smaller plates and put a small portion of food on your plate to manage portion sizes.  Remember to only eat seconds if still hungry.
  • To save time, try prepping dinner the night before. Simple sides and salads could also be prepped in the morning.
  • Over time, the amount of money saved by eating meals at home and/or prepared at home is noteworthy. For example, someone could accumulate almost $50,000 in 20 years by eating out one less evening per week and investing the money saved at a 5% yield.
  • People tend to eat healthier meals when they eat at home because they can better control portion sizes and the use of sauces, dressings, and other high-fat ingredients.

For all community information from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County including 4-H youth clubs and adult volunteer programs, visit ucnj.org/rce.

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