Preparing a Zucchini

This time of year gardeners tend to have an abundance of zucchini. The challenge is to use it before it goes bad. In our newest video, we show how to prepare a zucchini. The different ways of cutting a zucchini are useful for different recipes. Watch the video today and find out how to slice rounds, cut matchsticks, cube, dice, and grate zucchini.

If you have the time and a zucchini, grate one up this weekend so you have it ready to make our September recipe of the month next week.




Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Summer Bounty Salad

We have a new video for you! It is Summer Bounty Salad – a recipe that is easy, delicious, and perfect for this time of year. I do not want to spoil the video for you, so I am not going to tell you how to make this recipe. However, I suggest you go find your favorite summer vegetables and your favorite salad dressing because you are going to want them for this recipe.




Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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How to Cut a Melon

Have you ever come home from the grocery store, set a great looking melon on the counter, and then wondered what to do now? Well, I have.

Cutting a melon can seem like an overwhelming task. We tried out some different ways to cut a melon and put our favorites in a How to Prepare Melon video. These methods will work for most varieties of melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon). Take a look and let us know what you think.

Most of all, enjoy the taste of fresh melon while we have it!


Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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How to Drain Ground Beef

Growing up on a farm where we raised cattle, ground beef was often part of our meals. Today, I use ground beef about once a week in my family’s meals. Since meat is a more expensive item on my grocery list, I look for ways to help keep the cost down. One way to do this is to buy ground beef that has a higher fat content since it is cheaper. For example, currently at my grocery store 1 pound of 85% lean ground beef is $3.99 while 1 pound of 93% lean ground beef is $5.49. If I’m going to be browning the meat to use in a dish like tacos or spaghetti, I can drain the fat from the meat after I have browned it. That why I’m saving money but still keeping the fat down in my meals. If one is planning to make such videos of useful tutorials and tips then reaching to many people and gaining subs is important.

Watch our new video on How to Drain Ground Beef so you can save money and reduce the fat the next time you use ground beef.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Ramen Noodle Skillet

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Ramen Noodle Skillet recipe is always a winner at my house. My husband loves it, my children devour it, and even the grandmas and grandpas enjoy it when they come to visit. Ramen noodles are an inexpensive and easy meal, but they do not keep you full for long. Our Ramen Noodle Skillet adds vegetables and meat to give those noodles staying power.

I would enjoy telling you how to make this dish, but I don’t need to. We now have a short Ramen Noodle Skillet video that will show you all you need to know about this delicious recipe. Take a minute to watch our new video and then add the recipe to your menu for this week. Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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My family loves kiwi fruit. One of my favorite stories of my oldest son involves kiwi fruit. One night, my husband had washed two kiwis and set them on a paper towel to air dry. He intended to put them in his lunch the next morning before he headed to work, but he forgot. At lunch that day, I peeled and cut up the kiwis and shared them with my son who was two years old at the time. I told him that these were daddy’s kiwis and, since he forgot them, we were going to eat them. He thought it was so funny that we were eating “daddy’s tiwis”. That night when my husband returned home, my son started laughing so hard that he could hardly speak. Finally, we heard him say, “we ate your tiwis daddy!”.

Each time I eat a kiwi, I think of my two year old son mispronouncing the word kiwi. For a long time, I wondered if I was eating kiwi the right way. I just did not know the best way to get at them. As it turns out, there really is no right or wrong way to eat a kiwi – you can eat the whole thing, you can cut it in half and scoop out the inside, or you can peel it. If you would like to use kiwi slices to decorate a fruit pizza or kiwi dices to put in a fruit salad (or feed a hungry two year old), peeling the kiwi is the way to go. We have a new video that shows the quickest and easiest way to peel a kiwi – the spoon method.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Featured Video – Scrambled Egg Muffins

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team is very excited to share some new resources with you. This week, we are unveiling the first in a series of short, new videos that teach basic recipes and cooking skills. We hope you love them as much as we do!

This week’s featured videos is for Scrambled Egg Muffins. These are delicious for a weekend breakfast for company or a make-ahead breakfast to eat throughout the week. Each serving has vegetables and protein to get your day started right. In addition, in our part of the country, this recipe costs just $0.59 per serving!

Check out our new video and get the recipe for Scrambled Egg Muffins from our website.

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Kid Tested Homemade Chicken Tenders

Almost every child I know loves chicken tenders…it might be because they can pick them up with their fingers, or it might be they like dipping them. Actually I like finger food and dipping myself. What I don’t like about the prepared chicken nuggets is the amount of fat and sodium you get along with the chicken. The chicken tenders recipe we feature this month has a sauce you mix up to dip the chicken in, then coat with pretzel or cereal crumbs, and bake—instead of fry. The chart below compares the cost and nutrition of these tenders compared to a chain fast food outlet. You’ll note from the chart that our tenders provide more food (look at the weight) for much less fat and sodium and more protein. If you choose a whole grain cereal as the coating, you could add some fiber and other nutrients.

Since I have the oven on, I start the meal by putting some potatoes in to bake (my favorite is baked sweet potatoes). Prepare the chicken tenders and while they are baking make a salad!


 -pointers from Peggy

Ham & Brown Rice Recipe

This ham & brown rice recipe is a perfect “Go-To Meal.” It satisfies hunger, take minimal effort and time, but maximizes taste. Add a glass of milk and a piece of fruit and you have something from each food group. Make extra and freeze for another night or save some to take to work.

The variations possible with this recipe are endless…you can use any type of meat or fish, or beans. Any frozen, canned or cooked vegetable will work. If you use a vegetable saver (a container in your freezer where you save small amounts of leftover vegetables), they would be good in this recipe. If you want to add onions, celery or peppers, they could be sautéed first and then the broth, meat and garlic added.


Ham & Brown Rice


  • 1 14-ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chopped ham*
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a skillet, combine broth, ham, and garlic. Heat to boiling.
  2. Stir in rice and black pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Uncover; add peas and cook about 4 minutes more until rice is tender and peas are hot.
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top if desired. Serve immediately. If desired, this recipe is easy to double and freeze, so you’ll have extra for a future meal.
    *To lower sodium, substitute cooked lean pork for the ham and omit the parmesan cheese.

Eating Smart on the Run

Here’s a great video to watch with your whole family! The Fast Food Experiment takes a look at the ever-increasing size of food portions offered by fast food restaurantsa trend that’s continued over the last two decades. Some of the worst cases of portion distortion are triple burgers, foot-long sandwiches, full-pound burgers, huge orders of fries, oversized burritos, and super-large soft drinks.

This raises the question, “So, what is the proper serving size for me and my family?”  To determine the amount of food in a given serving, it is important to learn how to estimate the proper portion size.

Last, but not least…to cut down on large portions, try ordering from the kid’s menu, order an appetizer with a side salad, split a meal with a friend or family member, or take leftovers home.

– pointers by Peggy

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