Sometimes providing healthy meals for an aging parent is what allows them to remain independent and stay in their home longer. For adult children, however, finding time to accomplish this task every day can be a challenge. That’s where exploring caregiving tools for meal preparation comes in.
Preparing Healthy Meals for a Senior Family Member
Use these tips and tools to make meal preparation go more smoothly when you are a caregiver:
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- Learn about dietary needs: If your aging loved one has a restricted diet, the first step is 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 hospital. For older adults who don’t require a special diet, the ChooseMyPlate.gov from the US Department of Agriculture has a variety of useful tools. You can also 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 app. It allows you to do everything from surf the internet for recipes to create a weekly menu plan and shopping list. Yummly is another tool that can make a caregiver’s life easier. Not only is it home to a wide variety of recipes for different lifestyles (e.g., 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. Starting a meal in the slow cooker before you leave for work allows you to have dinner ready to deliver to your senior loved one when you get home. With careful planning, it can even be something to get them through several meals. Another meal prep tool that is very popular right now is the Instant Pot. This updated version of a pressure cooker dramatically reduces the time it takes to prepare a meal. On a busy weeknight, that can be helpful for a family caregiver.
- Making meals in batches: Batch cooking can be a life saver for an adult child with a busy schedule. You prepare and refrigerate or freeze meals for your family and your older loved one for a few days or weeks at a time. Everything from fruit smoothies to healthy soups and dinner entrees are easy to make ahead. Investing in airtight glass containers that can go from freezer to oven can streamline the process even more. Sites like Bon Appetit and Food Network have recipes specifically for batch cooking.
While tools and apps can make meal preparation easier, sometimes a more personal approach is better. Hiring an in-home caregiver to help an older adult prepare meals right in their own kitchen offers several advantages. Not only does the senior benefit from healthy meals, they also enjoy the socialization that comes from that interaction.
Griswold’s Homemaker Services are designed to do just that. One of our carefully screened and trained caregivers will come to the senior’s home to help with tasks like meal preparation, light housekeeping, and other household chores.