Caregivers have to juggle many responsibilities, and their busy schedules rarely leave much time for meal prep. However, seniors need nutritious food options and fresh, home-cooked meals to maintain their health. Here are six strategies caregivers can use to optimize their meal prep time.
1. Plan Ahead
Eating healthy often requires planning ahead. If you start thinking about what to serve your senior loved one for dinner at 5 p.m., you’re more likely to opt for food that’s easy to cook but unhealthy, such as frozen entrees. When you plan out your loved one’s weekly food schedule ahead of time, it takes the guesswork out of meal prep. Every Sunday, sit down with your loved one and plan out the week’s meals. Make sure each meal is nutritious, ranging from protein-rich chicken dishes to high-fiber lentil soups. Once the meal schedule is planned, head to the grocery store to ensure the right ingredients are on hand.
Consider hiring a professional caregiver if you need someone to prepare nutritious meals for your loved one. At-home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2. Understand Your Loved One’s Preferences
As seniors age, they often become more particular about what they eat. While planning nutritious meals sounds like a foolproof plan, it can backfire when healthy foods don’t satisfy a senior’s taste preferences. Buy books on healthy cooking, and let your loved one select recipes that look tasty. If your loved one enjoys a particular recipe, don’t be afraid to repeat it often. Many seniors don’t mind mealtime consistency.
3. Buy Groceries Online
Even if you head to the grocery store with a list in hand, wandering the aisles may be an arduous process. To save time, consider ordering groceries online and having them delivered to your loved one’s home.
4. Save Leftovers
Caregivers cooking for two people often end up with leftovers. Purchase high-quality storage containers and save leftovers for times when you don’t feel like cooking. There are many healthy dishes that store well in the freezer, such as soups, stews, and casseroles. When you have a well-stocked freezer filled with hearty chicken noodle soup, turkey chili, and other healthy options, you won’t have to serve your loved one high-calorie fast food or frozen dinners.
5. Supplement with Smoothies
Meeting a senior’s nutritional requirements can be challenging. Your loved one may be experiencing diminished hunger, or his or her taste buds may have changed. When you have to cook for a food-averse senior, supplement meals with healthy smoothies. By blending protein powder with almond milk, ice, fruit, and vegetables, you can ensure your loved one gets a healthy dose of protein and vitamins.
Some seniors need help preparing nutritious meals and healthy snacks such as smoothies. Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Mississauga home care service. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.
6. Invest in a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker can be a major time-saver for an overworked caregiver. Select a healthy, easy-to-make recipe, add the ingredients, and let the mixture simmer. At the end of the day, your loved one’s dinner will be tender, tasty, and ready to eat. Many popular slow cooker meals, such as vegetable medleys, make great leftovers.
Preparing healthy meals for a senior family member can be a challenging job, especially if you have other important tasks to tend to. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Mississauga, ON, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (519) 590-2792 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.