Tips for Healthy and Tasty Meals for Seniors in Erie, PA
Meal preparation can help seniors in Erie, PA live their best lives. Some find that cooking for just one or two can be a big adjustment from cooking for an entire family. That, in combination with changes in nutritional needs, tastes, and energy levels, make mealtimes more difficult at times. Meal preparation is a great solution! Here are some tips for making easy, healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals for seniors.
Expect Changes and Go with the Flow
As we age, changes in our habits, interests, daily patterns and even our own bodies can alter the way we prepare and eat food, and even how food tastes. Appetite decreases as we get older, and we begin to need more energy from smaller portions. Medications can also affect appetites and change how foods taste or when we can eat. Some medications interact poorly with certain foods such as dark, leafy greens, grapefruit, or cranberries, removing those foods from the menu. All of these factors can make meals a big challenge, but thankfully there are ways to help.
Keep It Simple
Simple and tasty are the words of the day. There's no need to lay out a grand spread for each meal as you may have done in the past. Focus on including nutritious elements with minimal preparation.
When you're planning a meal, think about how each ingredient contributes to the end result. Individual spices can be replaced by a blend (especially a low-salt or salt-free seasoning mix). Garnishes and toppings may not be worth the trouble of including. Look for recipes with fewer ingredients and add your own seasonings if they seem a little bland.
Preparing ingredients to cook can be time-consuming and tiring. Consider buying pre-chopped vegetables, bagged salads, pre-stuffed pork chops, and other labor-saving ingredients. If there’s a food or meal you like to eat frequently, prepare and cook enough at a single time that you can simply reheat portions over the course of a week. Frozen meals and items from the grocery's prepared foods sections can be good choices to give yourself a cooking break. You might buy meat that's already cooked and add your own sides, or choose already-mashed potatoes.
Rethink Cooking Techniques
Heating individual meals in the microwave can save you time, effort, and reduce the number of dishes you need to wash later. Most foods can successfully be adapted to microwave cooking. If you find it easier to cook larger portions, divide them into smaller containers, adding a little of each dish to make individual meals you can reheat later or even freeze. Look for single-pan recipes so you only have one pot or pan to worry about. Consider a single-serving crockpot -- they do almost all the work for you and can produce some extremely tender roasted meat and delicious soups. For breakfast, instead of cooking oatmeal, try overnight oatmeal in the fridge - just warm it up in the morning!
Keep It Healthy
Make sure you follow guidelines to keep your meals healthy. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables each day -- remember you can keep frozen, canned, and jarred produce on hand for times when you may not feel up to a grocery run. Opt for whole grains as well as low-sodium and low-fat choices.
Keep It Tasty
If you find food is tasting more bland and uninteresting, add some healthy flavor (try to avoid adding salt). This could include salt-free seasoning blends, low-sodium sauces and dressings, or a simple sprinkling of pepper or other spice of your choice.
Know When to Ask for Help
Eating enough nutritious, energy-dense food is increasingly important as we age, so make sure your body is getting what it needs. If you're finding it’s too much of a struggle to prepare meals, you’re forgetting about food preparation, or you’re having other kitchen accidents, it may be time to look at some other options.
Consider a delivery service. Choices range from meal-kit companies that offer subscription plans with meals for one or two people, to the familiar meals-on-wheels. You might also opt for a food delivery service that brings frozen meals and ingredients directly to your door.
Ask for Help
Friends and family are often happy to help -- especially when there's a specific task. Enjoy time together while visiting family members chop vegetables or cook up some chicken breasts to freeze for later. Take turns preparing simple meals with a friend. If you need more help, a Senior Helper can assist with everything from grocery shopping and meal planning to meal preparation and cleanup.
Nutritious, healthy, tasty food is important at all stages of life, and these tips for preparing meals for seniors can go a long way. Make sure you're doing what you can to keep your body at its best. For more ideas and information about staying well and safe as you age at home in Erie, contact us today.