When a family dinner is imagined, many people picture children who have “washed  up” for dinner, a mother, who despite her heels and pearls, has prepared a lovely meatloaf, and a father, just home from work. Today’s society has left this Cleaver-esque vision in the dust. Between soccer practice, dance lessons and homework, families rarely have to time to prepare a meal, much less enjoy it together.

The Texas Agri-life Extension is trying to change that. The extension agency is promoting a program called Dinner Tonight!. Its goal is to get families fired up about fixing low cost, healthy and quick meals.

“Families today are so busy that by the time they get home from work, they are tired. This pattern leads families to go out to eat, simply because it is easier,” said Donna White, Erath County extension agent.

The program will include videos, blogs and recipes posted on www.healthyliving.tamu.edu. A new recipe is demonstrated on video every Monday by a different extension agent from across the state. Recipes that are posted so far run the gamut from Italian to Mexican, and all are relatively low cost.

“Most of the time, you can fix a meal at home for less than it costs to go through the drive-through. We try to keep most of these meals to a low cost per serving,” White said.

Most of the meals on the site can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.

“Having all the ingredients at home is the key. Planning is a very important part of cooking. I’m not here to say that it is easy to plan and prepare, but it’s something that has to be done,” White said.

The recipe for this week is actually demonstrated by White, herself. White demonstrates a family favorite, taco soup. This simple meal can be made for only 75 cents per serving and “that’s cheap,” according to White.