Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service teamed up with H-E-B of Waxahachie to host the second annual Dinner Tonight event at the Waxahachie Senior Center Tuesday night. The theme was “Dinner Tonight: Cooking for 1 or 2.”

Extension Agent Rita Hodges said the whole mission of the extension service is to improve the lives of businesses, people and communities across Texas and beyond, through high quality and relevant education.

In preparation for the event, the extension service solicited input from people in the community. Hodges said a lot of people commented that they live alone or only have one other person in the household, and they don’t feel like preparing a meal for one or two people. She said that is how the Dinner Tonight event came about.

“What we’re going to do tonight is arrange and prepare two entire menus for you to view,” Hodges said. “These meals are for those of you who only have one or two people in your household.”

She shared with the group some statistics concerning the cooking habits of single people or households with two or less people in the home.

“One or two households is the growing sector in the U.S.,” Hodges said. “The 2010 U.S. census told us that there are more than 61 million households that have one or two people in them. There is a huge need for us to do some cooking for one or two, and I promise you there is one thing these 61 million people have in common, they all need to eat.”

Hodges asked the audience how many of them plan their meals ahead of time. Only a few raised their hands. She said that most people settle for fast food because it’s quick, but the fat, calories and sodium content should be considered when someone is getting ready to eat.

“Homemade meals are more nutritious and cheaper to prepare” Hodges said. “We’re hoping tonight’s cooking school will inspire you to cook more at home.”

Hodges enlisted the help of some of the master wellness volunteers to provide cooking demonstrations for those in attendance. They prepared two full meals in an effort to show how cost effective and healthier it is to cook at home, and one meal was prepared for the guests to sample.

The first cooking demonstration consisted of tangy apricot chicken, oven-roasted vegetables, broccoli slaw and fruit salad with honey yogurt dressing. The second meal prepared consisted of herb roasted pork chops, “any day’s a holiday” sweet potatoes, flavorful green beans and peach melba cobbler. The  sample meal included slow-cooked Sicilian pot roast, new potatoes, Italian drop biscuits and an easy pineapple cake.

In addition to the extension service providing demonstrations, wellness volunteers gave away more than 20 cooking items in door prizes, goody bags with items from H-E-B, Texas Beef Council and other businesses.  

Each attendant was also provided with a cookbook that included the two meals demonstrated, the one sample meal as well as nine other full meal recipes.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service has an online Dinner Tonight program, which is a collection of free webcasts of easy-to-prepare and nutritious recipes. They can be accessed by visiting healthyliving.tamu.edu.

For more information about the Extension Services, call 972-825-5175.

Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@waxahachietx.com.