September 6, 2018

Meal Planning For Seniors: Tips and Tricks!

By: Darleen Mahoney

Nutrition is important at any stage of life, but seniors even more so as their nutritional needs change.  Maintaining a well-balanced diet is necessary for health, overall wellbeing, and vitality. Many seniors may suffer from physical health issues, dementia, Alzheimer’s, mood, and/or diabetes. Many of these can be improved with daily nutrition.

Many older adults lack basic vitamins that are especially important to aging bodies:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D-needed for bone health, as we age less calcium is absorbed
  • Vitamin B12
  • Fiber
  • Potassium

Pro-active planning for nutritional and delicious meals for a senior may seem like a lot of work on the front end but in the long run may take away the stress of making a variety of meals every night that should to be healthy and nutritious. Seniors need to eat on a schedule, they are very routine oriented especially if there is any cognitive decline. Routines for those suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s can improve their day to day moods and irritability.

While the idea of meal planning may seem daunting, check out these positives:

  • Saves Time (all meals completed in one day)
  • Saves Money
  • Variety
  • Taste

While a meal of broiled chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice is healthy, you probably won’t have too may asking for seconds. Most Seniors are going to opt for a tasty dish over a healthy dish, they also have diminished olfactory senses with impacts seniors interest in food. In other words, if it doesn’t tickle their taste buds, they will be significantly less inclined to eat a meal.

Now, I mentioned that meal planning can save time.  This you will find interesting and requires organization in the beginning. This can be accomplished by utilizing a few cookbooks that are tried and true with recipes that are delicious, healthy and time saving. They must also be easy to follow and uncomplicated. Once you have chosen your cookbooks, code your recipes with colored stickies by which ones are around 20 minutes prep time and protein/vegetable. Develop a meal planning sheet or utilize a Google Meal Planning Doc for 3-4 weeks of meals. Once these have been completed, you can reuse them ongoing week after week. Keeping in mind that a variety is as important as taste, rotating a schedule for example: Chicken, Fish, Beef, Fish, Chicken, Vegetarian, Fish to ensure 3 out of 7 days of fish and only one beef day.

How does meal planning save money? How many times do you “run” to the grocery store? If you are planning ahead with less trips to the grocery store, you are saving money. For example: if you “run” to the grocery store to pick up a lemon for a recipe, do you ever just come home with a lemon?

If you are thinking that this all sounds amazing, but time is truly not on your side. There are other options to consider in food delivery services specializing in the dietary needs of senior adults and more generic health or whole foods centric that offer meal delivery right to your front door.  These services may be found online by doing some your research.

As a Senior may transition over from an aging in place environment and meal planning is no longer an option; nutrition, healthy eating, and tasty food should still be an important factor in considering any type of Senior community or Assisted Living.  So, taking into consideration the Senior community or facilities dietary offerings is as important as any other amenities. When you begin your research, visit us online at SeniorLivingGuide.com to check out the different menus, Chef’s, and dining options available at Senior communities at any location where you may want to make your next reservation. Bon Appetit!

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