Consistently preparing healthy meals for a senior loved one can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:
Learn about dietary needs: If your loved one has diet restrictions, it is important to learn more about it. Keeping them on track with those restrictions may be the key to helping them stay healthy and avoid a trip to the doctor. For older adults who do not require a special diet, ChooseMyPlate.gov has a variety of useful tools. You can also use their resources to read more about the unique nutritional needs of seniors.
Explore meal planning tools: Technology has made meal planning much easier for caregivers. Cozi is one tool that you can use online or via a smart phone. It allows you to search for recipes and create a weekly menu plan and shopping list. Yummly is another tool that can make life easier, and offers a wide variety of recipes for different lifestyles (gluten free or vegan diets), it can also send your shopping list directly to the popular meal delivery service, Instacart.
Meal preparation equipment: When time is in short supply, having the right meal preparation equipment can make cooking quicker and easier. For example, you could start a meal in a slow cooker before you leave for work. This allows you to have dinner ready to deliver to your senior loved one when you get home. Another meal prep tool is the Instant Pot. This updated version of a pressure cooker reduces the time it takes to prepare a meal. On a busy evening, this can be very helpful for a family caregiver.
Making meals in batches: Batch cooking can be essential for a caregiver with a busy schedule. Basically, you prepare and refrigerate or freeze meals for a few days or weeks at a time. You can do this with anything, whether it be fruit smoothies, healthy soups, or dinner entrees. Investing in airtight glass containers that can go from freezer to oven can make this even easier. Sites like Bon Appetit and Food Network have recipes specifically for batch cooking.
Source: “Caregiving Tools for Meal Preparation.” Griswold Home Care, 10 Sept. 2019, www.griswoldhomecare.com/caregiver/resource/caregiving-tools-meal-preparation/.