Tips on How to Meal Plan for Older Adults
Eating a well-balanced diet helps us get the minerals and nutrients we need to be healthy. For some, cooking and eating becomes somewhat of a pleasurable activity, and can bring families closer together. But, as we age, the ability to cook and enjoy food becomes difficult.
Why? Here are a few reasons why meal prepping and cooking lessens as we get older:
- appetites change
- taste buds change
- teeth can become more brittle
- arthritis makes prepping harder
- medications can affect / restrict certain foods
If this sounds like a loved one or someone you know, Leslie Bonci, the former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has a few suggestions that she has done with her aging mother to keep her nourished and prepped with food.
Stock up on cereal
We need a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to keep our immune system healthy. Instead of popping supplement pills or powders, Bonci suggests having different types of cereal around. Why is this a great food to have on hand for seniors? There’s no messing with trying to open up jars or cans (which is difficult for those with arthritis), all you have to do is open a box and pour in some milk — a good source of calcium.
Soups and smoothies
Both of these options are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, which is important for digestion, but most importantly it adds fluid into diets! Seniors struggle with getting in fluids once they age because our thirst diminishes. Soups and Smoothies are so versatile, there’s an option for everyone!
Get in that protein
It’s harder to prioritize protein as we get older. Meats can be harder to chew and harder to prepare. Bonci suggests stocking up on these protein-rich, easy to eat foods instead:
- cottage cheese
- ricotta cheese
- different nut butters like almond nut, peanut butter, etc
- frozen meatballs
- tuna pouches
“These foods are easily mixed with other simple staples like rice, pasta, whole-grain bread and simple fruits and vegetables for easy meals that provide the protein you need throughout the day,” Bonci says.
Fill the freezer
You can never go wrong with frozen foods. Frozen meatballs, frozen fish filets, frozen meals, and frozen peas are simple and do not take a lot of work to prepare.