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, healthy meal prep options can be an easy solution for senior caregivers to help provide their senior with a 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 can contribute to a general loss of appetite. Medications can also 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 including:

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

Let’s examine some options that make meal prepping healthy senior-pleasing food easier for you as a caregiver.

Option 1: You Prepare the Meals

This healthy meal prep 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 double as sources of daily nutrients and vitamins. Separate the list into breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Once this is completed, think 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 straight from the grocery store to your door.

To make the task easier, focus on simpler recipes with fewer ingredients (requiring less prep time) that are still appetizing and healthy. Taste of Home provides healthy recipes for two to help you 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 healthy meal prep options 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.

Option 2: 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 bring tasty, nutritious dinners to a home either as a meal kit full of 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. Meals can be catered to 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 reviews several Pre-made Meal Delivery Services, taking into consideration cost, ingredients, flexibility, and shipping.

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

Option 3: In-Home Cooking and Meal Preparation Services

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

The in-home 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 during dinnertime as well as meal planning and cooking.

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

Whether in independent living, assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing, Bethesda offers the right amenities, services, programming, and staff to make every day full of purpose. See for yourself and tour our independent living communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster.