HARRISBURG, Pa.  (WHTM) — Want to cook healthier, whip up tasty meals and save money? The Salvation Army in Harrisburg has a free program for you. One woman shows you just how successful it is in many ways.

 “I am making chicken tender salad and for dessert coconut macaroons,” participant Toya Ramseur said.

A tasty meal Toya Ramseur is cooking inside the Salvation Army Harrisburg’s teaching kitchen. The mom of young children took part in the free “Cooking Matters” program for adults.

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“It’s a very fun class. You would be amazed that how much you learn within the six-week course of cooking healthy, saving money, budgeting, and meal planning,” Ramseur said.

“We do all cook in class together. There is an instructor in the front cooking and everyone else is cooking their own recipe,” Community Health and Nutrition Administrator at Salvation Army Harrisburg Meghan Zook said.

 “In this class, you learn about a variety of healthy eating topics, and you cook hands-on in the class your own recipe,” Zook continued. “So you can try new things, you can be a bit more adventurous, so you have some inspiration to work towards your personal healthy eating goals.”

Also on the program’s menu: healthy eating on a budget.

“That is important with grocery cost with your grocery cost rising these days. Just in general people are always trying to make ends meet with their families and whatever else they have going on,” Zook said.

“I started saving more money when I went to the grocery store,” Toys Ramseur said. “I started paying attention to this so when I would buy my meats and vegetables I started looking at the retail price and unit price and seeing which would be the better option and I really saved a lot.”

“Cooking Matters” also focuses on:

  • Heart healthy eating
  • Eating while managing chronic diseases
  • Setting personal health goals
  • Learning how to read food labels

There is another benefit too: losing weight.

“It helped me lose a lot of weight. I lost, like, I want to say 83 pounds,” Rasmseur said

She is also sharing her healthy cooking skills with her young children.

 “It’s going to teach them how to cook, how to be independent, and how to eat healthier,” Rasmseur said.

 I believe this program is impactful because it’s not just a lecture on how to eat healthily, it is hands-on guidance. It increases people’s confidence, it increases their accountability, and it shows them ‘oh my goodness, If I can make something that tastes good in this class, I can do it at home!'” Zook said.

Once the lesson is over, participants eat the meals they have made together. To see a schedule of the classes and to sign up, click here.