Easy Meal Prep for Seniors When You’re Short on Time

Medicare Benefits Solutions
Aug 29, 2022

Are you finding that mealtime doesn’t have the appeal it once did especially if you are eating alone at home? For many seniors grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking becomes difficult as they get older.

If you are 65+ and struggling to cook for yourself, you may end up turning to pre-made processed foods, frozen dinners, or fast food. Unfortunately, these convenience foods often have a lower nutritional value due to an overabundance of fat, salt and calories.

Does all this talk have you worried about getting adequate nutrition throughout the day for yourself or an elderly parent? If you answered yes, then continue on with our beginner’s guide to easy meal prep for senior citizens.

TIP: Read our companion post on how to stock your kitchen with the best healthy pantry staples to always have on hand.

Benefits of Meal Prep for Older Adults

The top reasons why spending a bit of time on weekly meal prep benefits seniors:

  • Ensures there is healthy food available
  • Results in less reliance on packaged and other convenience foods
  • Helps manage portion sizes
  • Makes it easier to stick to a budget
  • May lower stress and anxiety levels
  • Enhances quality of life
  • Encourages senior’s independence

TIP: Meal prep can also help seniors stick to their prescription drug schedule if they need to take certain meds with food.

Getting Started with Meal Prep for Seniors

Here’s a quick action guide on how to get started meal prepping for older adults.

  • Review cookbooks and magazines for recipe ideas
  • Go through your cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer to see what items you already have on hand
  • Make a shopping list to take with you when you go to the grocery store
  • Reach out to a friend, neighbor or family member if you need help getting to and rom the market
  • Cook in bulk whenever possible and store leftovers in the freezer to eat at a later date

TIP: What happens if you no longer drive and public transport is a hassle? You may want to look into Instacart and other grocery delivery service options or see if you qualify for a meal delivery service such as Meals on Wheels.

Meal Prep for Seniors Basics

You may be surprised to learn that most meal prep chores don’t involve that much cooking. Meal prep simply refers to the steps needed to plan and prepare your meals in advance.

This can include things like purchasing a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and breaking it down to use for a week’s worth of soups, salads and sandwiches. Or buying a week’s worth of fresh fruits and vegetables from your local green market and peeling, cutting, or chopping them, so they are ready for use in different recipes.

If any of your recipes call for pre-cooked items, such as wilted spinach, sauteed mushrooms, or grilled onions these are all ingredients that you can prepare in advance. And if you are struggling to cut up fresh produce, due to arthritis or another health condition, most grocery stores offer a great selection of pre-cut fruits and vegetables.

TIP: Keeping a stash of canned or frozen vegetables on hand is another great easy meal prep tip for those times when you’ve run out of fresh ingredients.

16 Easy Meal Prep Menu Ideas

Cooking a delicious meal from scratch sounds good in theory, but what happens when you can’t be bothered? Follow these menu suggestions when you’re hungry, short on time and dread the thought of following a complicated recipe.

Anyone with basic culinary skills can make any of these dishes as they don’t require a lot of advanced planning or preparation. The beauty of these breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas is that you can customize them according to your taste preferences or any dietary restrictions.

TIP: are you a fan of using a crock pot, Instant pot, or rice cooker to help make meal time a breeze? Discover 6 one pot quick and easy healthy meals for seniors that require a minimum of culinary equipment.

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Top 7 Easy Prep Breakfast Ideas

  • Bowl filled with sliced strawberries, bananas, cantaloupe and other fresh fruit
  • Oatmeal topped with your favorite toppings including fresh berries, roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of milk
  • Toast a frozen waffle and spread it with peanut or other nut butter and a drizzle of honey, maple syrup, or low-glycemic index agave syrup
  • Breakfast parfait made with layers of yogurt, fruit and granola
  • Toast with butter or margarine and your favorite jam or sugar-free jelly
  • Avocado toast topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Farmer’s omelet filled with the vegetables of your choice like sauteed spinach, mushrooms, onions, red bell peppers, chives or other fresh herbs

Top 5 Easy Prep Lunch Ideas

  • Selection of zucchini, bell peppers, radishes, celery, green onions and other fresh veggies served with a side of protein-packed hummus
  • Tuna salad on whole wheat bread with sliced tomatoes and lettuce
  • Grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup
  • Garden salad with mixed greens, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
  • Classic Waldorf salad made with leftover chicken, sliced grapes, chopped apple, celery and walnuts all mixed together with a generous spoonful of mayonnaise

Top 4 Easy Prep Dinner Ideas

  • Baked fish prepared with fresh dill and sliced lemons served with a side of brown rice or quinoa
  • Easy pizza using a pre-made pizza crust topped with your favorite tomato sauce, shredded cheese and toppings of your choice
  • Baked bell peppers stuffed with cooked rice or quinoa mixed with a bit of salsa and topped with shredded cheese
  • Vegetable stir-fry topped with shrimp finished with a dash of low-sodium soy sauce and served on a bed of jasmine or brown rice

Nutritional Counseling for Seniors

If you are a caregiver, you can use these meal prep tips and tricks to assist your aging parents or your 65 and older adult clients.

Are you or a family member struggling to follow a healthy, balanced diet due to diabetes, kidney disease, or another health condition? Medicare may cover the costs of consulting with a nutritionist if you meet the requirements for eligibility.

TIP: If plan on eating some of your summer meals on your screened porch or patio discover tips on how to clean your grill, so you’re ready for your next cookout. 

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