Tips for Eating Out Away From Home

Dining Out blog

Restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, or fast-food places offer a variety of options when eating out. But larger portions and too many extras can make it difficult to stay within your calorie needs. Think about ways to make healthier choices when eating food away from home.

  1. Consider Your Drink- Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without added sugars to complement your meal.
  2. Savor a Salad- Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner. Ask for dressing on the side and use a small amount of it.
  3. Share a Main Dish- Divide a main entree between family and friends. Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.
  4. Select from the Sides- Order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entree. They’re usually served on smaller plates and in smaller amounts.
  5. Pack Your Snack- Pack fruit, sliced vegetables, low-fat string cheese, or unsalted nuts to eat during road trips or long commutes. No need to stop for other food when these snacks are ready-to-eat.
  6. Fill Your Plate with Vegetables and Fruit- Stir-fries, kabobs, or vegetarian options are usually filled with vegetables. Order options without creamy sauces or heavy gravies. Select fruits for dessert.
  7. Compare the Calories, Fat, and Sodium- Many menus now include nutrition information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Check with your server if you don’t see them on the menu. For more information, check
  8. Pass on the Buffet- Have an item from the menu and avoid the “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes have fewer calories than foods that are fried in oil or cooked in butter.
  9. Get Your Whole Grains- Request 100% whole-wheat breads, rolls, and pasta when choosing sandwiches, burgers, or main dishes.
  10. Quit the “Clean Your Plate Club”- When you’ve eaten enough food, leave the rest. Take leftovers home in a container and chill in the refrigerator right away.

For recipes visit

The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit

10 Tips to Eat More Seafood


Twice a week, make seafood—fish and shellfish—the main protein food on your plate. Seafood contains a range of nutrients, including healthy omega-3 fats. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating about 8 ounces per week (less for young children) of a variety of seafood can help prevent heart disease.

  1. Eat a Variety of Seafood- Include some that are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, herring, and sardines.
  2. Keep it Lean and Flavorful- Try grilling, broiling, roasting, or baking—they don’t add extra fat. Avoid breading or frying seafood and creamy sauces, which add calories and fat. Using spices or herbs, such as dill, chili powder, paprika, or cumin, and lemon or lime juice, can add flavor without adding salt.
  3. Shellfish Counts Too!- Oysters, mussels, clams, and calamari (squid) all supply healthy omega-3s. Try mussels marinara, oyster stew, steamed clams, or pasta with calamari.
  4. Keep Seafood on Hand- Canned seafood, such as canned salmon, tuna, or sardines, is quick and easy to use. Canned white tuna is higher in omega-3s, but canned “light” tuna is lower in mercury.
  5. Cook it Safely- Check oysters, mussels, and clams before cooking. If shells don’t clamp shut when you tap them, throw them away. After cooking, also toss any that didn’t open. This means that they may not be safe to eat. Cook shrimp, lobster, and scallops until they are opaque (milky white). Cook fish to 145°F, until it flakes with a fork.
  6. Get Creative with Seafood- Think beyond the fish fillet. Try salmon patties, a shrimp stir-fry, grilled fish tacos, or clams with whole-wheat pasta. Add variety by trying a new fish such as grilled Atlantic or Pacific mackerel, herring on a salad, or oven-baked Pollock.
  7. Put it on a Salad or in a Sandwich- Top a salad with grilled scallops, shrimp, or crab in place of steak or chicken. Use canned tuna or salmon for sandwiches in place of deli meats, which are often higher in sodium.
  8. Shop Smart- Eating more seafood does not have to be expensive. Whiting, tilapia, sardines, canned tuna, and some frozen seafood are usually lower cost options. Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales, coupons, and specials to help save money on seafood.
  9. Grow up Healthy with Seafood- Omega-3 fats from seafood can help improve nervous system development in infants and children. Serve seafood to children twice a week in portions appropriate for their age and appetite. A variety of seafood lower in mercury should also be part of a healthy diet for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  10. Know Your Seafood Portions- To get 8 ounces of seafood a week, use these as guides: A drained can of tuna is about 3 to 4 ounces, a salmon steak ranges from 4 to 6 ounces, and 1 small trout is about 3 ounces.

For recipes visit

The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit

Reading Nutrition Facts Labels

Knowing how to read a nutrition facts label is a simple, but very important skill. Here are a few tips on how to properly read a nutrition label:

  • Look at serving sizes

The information that is on the nutritional label is based off a single serving. Pay attention to the servings per container and serving size. The typical serving size will be in measurements like cups, grams, ounces, and pieces.

  • Check the calories

The number of servings you eat will determine how many calories you consume. Everyone requires a different number of daily calories, and this number is based on someone’s age, gender, and activity level. You can visit to find your specific calorie needs.

  • Nutrients

The nutrients at the bottom of the nutrition label are nutrients that improve our health. These nutrients include dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. When reading a nutrition label, look for foods that have 10% or more in the %Daily Value column.

  • Limit these

Limiting fat, sodium, cholesterol, and added sugars are important. Eating to much of these items can increase the risk of disease like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

  • % Daily Value

This value is based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This allows someone to see if the nutrients in that particular food contribute to their daily intake. It also allows someone to see if that food has a high concentration of the items we want to limit. Someone’s %Daily Value may be higher or lower than what is on the nutrition label based on their caloric needs.

  • Ingredient’s list

The ingredients are listed on the nutritional facts label from the highest amount to the lowest amount. For example, if sugar is the first ingredient, that means sugar makes up most of the food. It is a good rule of thumb to stick with foods that have only a few ingredients and ingredients that you can actually pronounce! Some ingredients can be additives and fillers that we would be better off not consuming.

Let’s Build A Healthy Meal

Build Healthy Meal

Each meal is a building block in your healthy eating style. Make sure to include all the food groups throughout the day. Make fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods part of your daily meals and snacks. Also, limit added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Use the tips below to help meet your needs throughout the day.

  • Make half your plate veggies and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

  • Include whole grains

Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain/wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.

  • Don’t forget the dairy

Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Don’t drink milk? Try a soy beverage (soymilk) as your drink or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

  • Add lean protein

Choose protein foods such as lean beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, and eggs, nuts, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

  • Avoid extra fat

Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

  • Get creative in the kitchen

Whether you are making a sandwich, a stir-fry, or a casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and adding in more veggies that add new flavors and textures to your meals.

  • Take control of your food

Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

  • Try new foods

Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, quinoa, kale, or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.

  • Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way

Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish—fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

  • Everything you eat and drink matters

The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Turn small changes in how you eat into your MyPlate, MyWins.

For healthy recipes visit

National Nutrition Month 2022: Plan your meals each week!


Follow these tips to help you know how to make a plan to eat a balanced diet.

Choose healthful recipes to make during the week

Keep MyPlate Recommendations in mind – choose meals that fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose whole grains for at least half your meals, vary your protein routine, and include low-fat and fat free dairy.

Use a grocery list to shop for nutritious foods

When you’re ready to go grocery shopping, having a plan will help you choose healthful foods, avoid impulse purchases, and stay within your budget. Use MyPlate Guidelines to help you create a grocery list:

  • Fruits – fresh, frozen, and fruits canned in 100% fruit juice.
  • Vegetables – fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
  • Grains – looks for items with “whole wheat” or “whole grain” on the label. Look for items that have “whole wheat” or “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Compare products, and choose the one with more fiber and less added sugars.
  • Protein – choose fresh and frozen unprocessed skinless poultry, fish, seafood, lean pork, and lean beef. Choose canned meats and fish labeled “no sodium added” or “low sodium.”
  • Dairy – choose low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese and calcium-fortified soymilk.
  • Condiments and oils – while this isn’t part of MyPlate Guidelines, condiments and oils are used in almost every dish. Choose condiments that are low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Choose plant oils that are liquid at room temperature and are lower in saturated fats.

Make healthful food and drink choices when away from home

  • When dining out:
    • Look for nutrition information – many restaurants, especially chain restaurants, have calorie information listed next to the food item on the menu. Information on fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, added sugar, and protein should be available upon request or online.
    • Look for keywords – sometimes, restaurants don’t provide nutrition information. Words like “crunchy,” “crispy,” “battered,” “breaded,” “creamy,” “cheesy,” and “alfredo” all indicate that an item might be higher in calories and saturated fat. Words like “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” “steamed,” “al fresco,” and “marinara” indicate that an item might be lower in calories and a more healthful option.
    • Portions matter – restaurants often serve food in much larger portions that we need. Ask for a to-go box when you get your food, and immediately put half of it away for later to help prevent you from overeating.
  • At work or school:
    • Plan the night before – pack a balanced lunch and snacks to help you avoid unplanned eating out for lunch and snacking on unhealthy snacks when you get hungry in the afternoon.
    • Be prepared – keep single-serve packages of whole-grain crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna at your desk for a quick lunch.
    • Avoid mindless eating – keep snacks off your desk and hidden away to help prevent you from eating when you aren’t hungry.