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How to Get Your Family Dinners Back on a Healthy Track

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

We are living in a time when most people feel busier than ever before, with a nonstop to-do list. As such, many families around the country are dining out more than ever before. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reports that the average household in America is spending around $2,678 per year to dine out. That amounts to around $223 per month going to dining out, where people also typically consume more fat, calories, and sugar. A new tool, the Meal Maker Machine, has been designed to help change the way American families eat, helping them get back to cooking more at home and eating healthier.

“We are excited about announcing the Meal Maker Machine and all that it can do to help people get their family’s dining back on the healthy track,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “It’s simple to use, helps establish good habits, and will help families make healthy meals with the ingredients they have on hand. We really hope to help get more families feeling kitchen confident, so they cook at home more and enjoy the benefits that it provides. People of all ages are finding the customized recipes are fast and easy to use.”

The Meal Maker Machine is a free online website tool, found at, that anyone can use at any time. It works easily on mobile devices and does not require any type of registration or login to use it. Visitors simply decide if they would like to make a stir-fry, curry, soup, baked dish, salad, pasta dish, or a yum-bowl. Then, they choose from a list of the ingredients that they already have on hand, such as their carbohydrate, protein, veggies, and seasonings. After making the selections, simply click a button, and the Meal Maker Machine creates a customized meal that is easy to make and delicious.

Since the Meal Maker Machine provides recipes based on the ingredients people already have on hand, it also helps to reduce food waste, helping to save families money each year. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 percent of the food supply is wasted each year, with the highest risk of waste rates coming from fruits and vegetables.

Many families can relate, as they throw unused produce or leftovers into the trash each week, and waste a portion of their food budget in the process.

In addition to helping families quickly be able to make recipes at home based on the ingredients they have on hand, the Meal Maker Machine also:

  • Gives children and adults the opportunity to create their own unique recipes, and allows kids a chance to have fun with creating a recipe they can make.

  • Helps people to become more comfortable cooking at home.

  • Allows families to take food allergies and dietary preferences into account when creating the recipes.

  • Makes it easier for families to cook at home more, which helps them live a healthier lifestyle. Home-cooked meals tend to have less fat, salt, and sugar than those in restaurants.

  • Families can make cooking at home a fun experience that everyone gets involved in, making getting healthy and saving time and money a family affair.

“Many people just don’t know what to cook, which is why this tool is so important for families to check out,” added Heidi DiEugenio, a director at the Dr. Yum. Project. “It takes the guesswork out of what to make for dinner, and uses the ingredients you already have in the kitchen. In addition to the Meal Maker Machine, we also created Doctor Yum’s Meal Planner a free tool where families can build a weekly menu and shopping list, based on prep time as it aligns with evening activities. With the click of a button you can even get a shopping list sorted by the grocery department.”

Dr. Fernando and Heidi DiEugenio are two of the original founders of The Doctor Yum Project, an organization with the mission of transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. The project offers healthy cooking classes, child nutrition classes, cooking camps for kids, hands-on cooking instruction for families, first foods classes, a teaching garden, and online tools to help families make healthier meals. They also offer a preschool nutrition program, with 40 classrooms and almost 600 participating preschoolers.

Dr. Fernando, otherwise known as Dr. Yum, is a board-certified pediatrician. She is also the co-author of the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook” (The Experiment, October 2015). To learn more, visit the site at:

About The Doctor Yum Project Founded by Dr. Nimali Fernando, The Doctor Yum Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. They offer a variety of community programs to help with those efforts. They are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and feature an instructional kitchen and teaching garden for holding classes. To learn more, visit the site at:

Doctor Yum Recipes is produced with MWKrom including Matthew Krom and Emily Hanson, of Huville Makerspace in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They create and care for high-end custom Web and mobile software applications with forward-thinking designs for a wide range of long-term clients.


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