CDPAP Caregiver Meal Prepping
Seniors may not always be able to prepare healthy food for themselves. By planning your loved one’s meals in advance, you can ensure that they get proper nutrition and a full menu for the week. Here are some tips for CDPAP caregiver on meal prepping to help older adults maintain a well-balanced diet.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping consists of preparing ingredients or entire meals ahead of schedule. While some people find it helpful to assemble ingredients required for specific meals at the beginning of the week and use them as necessary, others prefer to cook complete meals in one day to save even more time.
Meal prepping has many benefits. It will allow you to:
- Reduce the number of trips to the grocery store
- Choose healthy foods for your senior loved one
- Allow the elderly to eat well-balanced meals
- Ensure proper nutrition
- Help the senior feel more relaxed about the next meal.
How to Meal Prep
First, you need to decide what meals you would like to focus on and what meal-prepping methods you are going to use. To make your transition into meal planning easier, you should start with recipes that you are already familiar with.
Once you choose what your loved one will be eating each day, go through individual recipes and create a detailed shopping list with quantities of the ingredients you'll need. You can then do grocery shopping or use a grocery delivery service to get everything you need for the week.
Here are a few practical guidelines on meal prepping to keep in mind as you get started.
Meal Prepping Tips
- Stay organized. Make sure to label all the meals before you place them in the fridge or freezer so that they’re easy to find.
- Use safe cooling methods. Refrigerate meals the senior will eat within 3 to 4 days and freeze the rest.
- Portion out meals in mason jars or airtight containers. The senior can also heat the food directly in the container.
- Since the meal will be reheated before eating, you can slightly undercook the food during meal prep.
- When you’re short on time, you can choose meal options that need little or no cooking, such as easy-to-microwave bags of veggies with no slicing, dicing, or boiling required.
- Create a meal plan that incorporates your loved one’s dietary needs and food preferences. This will increase the chances they will actually eat the food.
- Introduce new recipes to add some variation. It may be enough to use different spices and herbs to mix things up.
- Stay away from foods that don’t fit the senior’s health needs. For example, if your loved one has difficulties chewing and swallowing, you should focus on preparing softer foods.
- Involve the senior in meal prep and turn it into a bonding activity.
Read on to learn more about what nutrients should be a part of balanced meals for the elderly.
Good Foods for Seniors
Fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber and vitamins. Stock your loved one’s pantry with frozen, fresh, canned, and dried fruits and veggies. This way, they can easily incorporate them into their favorite dishes.
- Salads with every meal
- Extra vegetables to a canned or homemade soup
- Fresh fruit and berries to yogurt and smoothies
Older adults should avoid saturated and trans fats. However, healthy fats are good for seniors and will help them better absorb other nutrients.
- Nuts and chia seeds to oatmeal or granola
- Fatty fish, for example, salmon, trout, sardines, and herring
- Avocado, unless the senior is on a low potassium diet
A variety of factors such as different medical conditions, physical or emotional stress, and the use of antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are important in maintaining the balance of bad and good bacteria in the elderly. They are present in many foods, but can also be taken as supplements.
- Beans and other legumes
A high protein diet is essential for maintaining muscle strength, balance, agility, and overall health in seniors.
- Tuna fish
- Nuts and nut butters
- Greek yogurt
- Mashed avocado
- Protein powder to smoothies
In the following section, we list the best easy make-ahead meals for seniors.
Great Meal Prepping Recipes
This simple and healthy breakfast option can be made in advance and will keep your loved one full until lunch. Chia seeds are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, while almond butter provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Overnight oats are a great choice for seniors who prefer softer foods.
Egg muffins are a great source of protein. They will keep your older adult full and energetic throughout the day, while the added vegetables will provide the essential vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate rich in iron. It helps keep red blood cells and the nervous system strong and enhances brain function. This nutritious, low-fat salad can be easily prepared in advance.
This homemade fried rice is a healthy version of the take-out favorite. It is also very easy to prepare. All you need to do is combine cooked brown rice with eggs and vegetables to make a delicious and balanced meal.
Crockpot chili is another quick and simple meal that tastes even better the next day. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein. They will help your seniors lower their cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. To make this flavorful dish, you can use your loved one’s favorite herbs, spices, and vegetables, and make it vegan or vegetarian if you prefer.
Stir-frying is a great way to prepare a healthy meal from pre-cut ingredients. This recipe is very versatile—you can easily modify it by adding any vegetables and protein you have on hand. Serve with plain brown rice.