As a family caregiver, providing nutritious and appetizing food for your senior loved one may be one of your biggest and most time-consuming challenges. For many reasons, meal preps for senior caregivers are often an easy solution for providing a senior with the proper diet.

Your senior might suffer from a chronic disease like diabetes, which restricts dietary choices. She or he may have a reduced sense of taste and/or smell that will contribute to a general loss of appetite. Medications can affect what and how much your senior will consume and, as we age, our ability to absorb vital nutrients decreases, and malnutrition in seniors can lead to many health concerns:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased bone mass

Let’s examine some options that make meal prep and providing senior-pleasing food easier for you as the caregiver.

You Prepare the Meals

This option could depend upon how much time and energy you have to invest. First, you’ll need to determine dietary needs, which will probably require speaking with the senior’s physician and/or a dietitian.

Also, make a list of your senior’s favorite recipes that will also meet their health needs. Separate the list by the categories of breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Once this is completed, start thinking about a meal plan for each day.

Keep a list of items you will need from the grocery store to make shopping easier. If your senior needs constant supervision, someone may need to shop for you, or stay with your senior while you shop. However, there are delivery services like Instacart or DoorDash that will bring you your food items and ingredients from the grocery store.

To make the task easier, focus on simpler recipes with fewer ingredients (requiring less prep time) but are still appetizing and healthy. Taste of Home provides healthy recipes for two, which should also cut down on leftovers.

And if you have leftovers, you can save time and money by finding ways to incorporate them into new dishes.

The Food Network also has many quick, healthy recipes that make great meal preps for senior caregivers.

If your senior has lost his or her taste for food, the National Institute on Aging recommends adding colors and spices to dishes to make them look more appetizing. These would include colorful foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, or tomatoes, and flavor enhancers like cheese, nuts, and fresh herbs (sage, thyme, or rosemary, etc.). Other flavor additives might be peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, lemon or lime.

Meal Delivery Services

Maybe you are not a cook, or simply don’t have the time and energy to prepare meals in your senior’s home. The good news is that there are many meal delivery services to choose from that can bring tasty, nutritious dinners to a home either as meal kit ingredients that can be prepared or as fully cooked meals that simply require heating:

  • Magic Kitchen
  • Hello Fresh
  • Gobble
  • Silver Cuisine
  • Top Chef Meals
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Sunbasket
  • Fresh and Easy
  • EveryPlate
  • Mom’s Meals

Some of these delivery services specialize in meals prepared for seniors, with offerings created by registered dietitians. Meals may be gluten-free, low-carb, low-dairy, or high protein. Some services specialize in no-prep meals that feed one person

Meal menu varieties may include breakfast, lunch and dinner options, and allow for additional foods to be added and a wide variety of sides and desserts. The meals can be refrigerated or frozen for use later. Some services allow for changing or canceling an order.

Mom’s Meals caters to older adults and specializes in fully prepared, dietitian-designed meals. Menu items can be selected for medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, and difficulty swallowing.

A significant benefit of Mom’s Meals is that health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid may cover all or part of the cost under a “home delivered meals” benefit. Seniors or caregivers should contact the senior’s insurance company to see if they also cover meal expenses.

Buyer’s Guide.org reviews several Pre-made Meal Delivery Services, taking into consideration cost, ingredients, flexibility, and shipping.

Your healthcare provider or registered dietitian may be able to provide more information on meal delivery services.

In-Home Cooking and Meal Preparation Services

Many in-home care agencies offer meal preparation and cooking services for seniors.

The caregivers will meet with seniors and family members to discuss any food restrictions and special dietary requirements of the senior. After that, a meal plan is developed containing all the proper food groups necessary for the senior’s health. Services can also include grocery shopping and companionship for the senior at dinner as well as meal planning and cooking.

Take a look at Bethesda’s blog for more caregiver tips.