We all know how important good nutrition is for our overall health. Without it, we have less energy, and our bodies won’t be able to fight off illness or recover from sickness as effectively.
Unfortunately, though, many seniors have a hard time getting the nutrition they need. Many times, seniors who live independently may not make balanced meals for themselves. This can happen for several reasons. For one thing, older adults aren’t as active, so their appetites tend to be smaller. Their senses of taste and smell may also not be as sharp as they once were, so food just isn’t as tempting. Or maybe they find that they just don’t feel like putting together a healthy meal for only one or two people.
If this is the case with one of your senior loved ones, you may decide to help them out by making meals. Like many caregivers, you probably already have a full schedule. You may be juggling your job, your children, and your household responsibilities. You can do this! With a little planning and some time-saving tips you can provide your senior loved one with balanced meals without running yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Tips for Busy Caregivers
- Cook in Bulk. If you’re making a meal that would freeze well, why not double your recipe and put the extra in the freezer? Then you’ll have something on hand for those days when you just don’t have the time or the energy to start something from scratch.
- Save on Washing and Cutting Veggies. Do Mom and Dad feel that no meal is complete without a salad? Washing and chopping one day’s worth of salad ingredients every day can take up considerable time. Try rinsing, drying, and chopping enough to last a few days. Or, if your budget allows for it, buying pre-washed veggies like lettuce, carrots, or broccoli can be a major time saver!
- Substitute Healthier Ingredients. Have you ever found a great recipe, but after looking at the nutrition information felt that you couldn’t justify serving it to your senior loved one? Many canned goods, like veggies and broths, are also available in a low-sodium version. Or try using frozen or fresh ingredients instead of canned. Sometimes it’s possible to use milk instead of cream, or to use healthy fats (like olive oil) in the place of butter.
- If you’re dropping off a meal that will need to be reheated or thawed and cooked, make sure to include detailed instructions for preparation.
5 Easy and Healthy Meals for Seniors
If you’re fortunate enough to have your senior loved one living in an in-law apartment or another location very nearby, you may be able to deliver a serving of whatever you happen to be cooking that night for your own household. However, if they are not close enough for that to be convenient, you may find yourself delivering meals on your way to work or at some other time well before it’s actually time for them to be eaten. The following meal suggestions are easy to prepare ahead of time and simple for seniors to put together or reheat on their own.
Soup is a great choice because you can load it with nutritious ingredients, it’s usually just as tasty left over, and it’s easy to make a huge batch so you can freeze some for later. Throw in a tossed salad and some whole grain bread and you’re good to go!
Try this easy crockpot recipe for potato minestrone.
Salad isn’t just a side dish — it can also be an easy and nutritious main course! Simply add a lean protein (like grilled chicken) to your favorite mix of greens and veggies and you’ve got a meal! If it won’t be eaten immediately, it may be better to leave some of the ingredients on the side until it’s time to serve.
Try this easy-to-make chicken Caesar salad:
- Flatten one or two skinless, boneless chicken breasts with a meat mallet.
- Marinate in low sodium caesar salad dressing.
- Grill or broil.
- Slice and serve with your favorite lettuce, freshly grated parmesan cheese, whole-grain croutons, and dressing.
This salad is great served with melon wedges on the side.
Pies are another great option because they’re easy to make ahead and freeze in single-serving portions. Or, if you prefer, you can prepare them in smaller, individual sizes. Many pies contain both proteins and veggies, so they can provide complete nutrition in one easy package.
Try this recipe for chicken pot pie. Then serve with a side of salad or vegetables. (Note: The temperature in this recipe is written in degrees Celsius. The equivalent in Fahrenheit is about 400.)
Many pasta recipes freeze very well. To make it healthier for your senior loved one, consider substituting ground turkey in recipes that call for ground beef. If you use prepared sauce, check the labels and look for one with a low sodium content. Many pasta shapes are available in healthier whole grain options as well.
If you’ve never tried your hand at stuffed shells, you may be surprised by how easy they are to put together. This recipe for Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells is both low sodium and high calcium, so it’s a great choice for many seniors.
Casseroles are easy to make ahead, and to freeze in small portions. If you can include lots of veggies, whole grains, like brown rice or quinoa, and lean protein rather than red meat, all the better!
Try this Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe. Freezing instructions are included!
Making meals for independent seniors is a big job, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. And you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your senior loved ones are getting the nutrition they need.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC with a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. We are pleased to now offer customized concierge home care services to independent seniors living in Landfall and at Cambridge Village. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!