Blog Site Discontinued June 23, 2017

Welcome. This blog site, healthy eating and food safety, has been discontinued as of June 23, 2017. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eating Nutritious and Affordable Food Away From Home

Keeping track of the nutritional value of food you eat away from home will be easier due to the recent passage of the Health Care Bill. Federal law now requires businesses to provide nutrition information to consumers upon request and to display calorie counts on all chain restaurant menus, drive-through billboards and vending machines.

Access to nutrition information about food away from home will be helpful to many people. A United States Department of Agriculture publication reveals that, compared to eating at home, Americans take in more sodium, fat, alcohol, sugar and total calories when they dine out. They also eat fewer fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and drink less milk when they eat away from home. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, consumers also spend more (77 percent on average) when they eat out than when they prepare meals at home.

Researchers recently developed a model based on the government’s Thrifty Food Plan that includes food eaten away from home and follows the nutrition recommendations of MyPyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“Incorporating information about choosing economical and nutritious food away from home is much more realistic than assuming that Americans following the Thrifty Food Plan are preparing all of their meals at home.  The key to including foods eaten away from home into a healthful and inexpensive eating plan is moderation.  As long as foods are carefully selected, consumers can watch both their food and calorie budgets at once."

When you’re eating away from home, order water, which is free, instead of sugary juices and sodas.  Fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea or coffee or other drinks without added sugars are also good beverage choices.

Other pointers include choosing whole-grain bread or noodles and opting for low-fat or fat-free cheeses and sauces.  Remember that steamed, grilled and broiled meals have fewer calories than fried or sautéed ones. Look for menu items that are made with vegetables; for example, a sub sandwich with lots of veggies; a stir-fried dish; or spaghetti with marinara sauce.

For more suggestions on eating well away from home, see MyPyramid’s “Tips for eating healthy when eating out” at


Source: Teresa Curtis, UW-Extension Nutrition Education Program Specialist with the Nutritional Sciences Department, UW-Madison & Mallory Koenings, Graduate Student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison

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