Most people find it challenging to cook flavorful, nutritious food. When you're trying to cook for one or two people without food waste, it becomes even more challenging. When those people are aging and are in need of special consideration in their diets, it becomes particularly overwhelming. So how DO you cook for a senior or a couple of seniors while paying heed to dietary needs, flavor, & trying not to waste food?
- Pay attention to doctor's orders. If your doctor has warned the person against a certain food, refuse to have it in the house. It will make it much easier not to have the temptation around. If it's something that can be used in moderation, you can still have it around, but consider dividing it into portions straight away when you get it home from the store. For instance, if you're supposed to limit refined sugar intake, determine a likely offender source ( a sweet snack) and divide it into snack bags. Then you can put the bags into the freezer & decide what the limit is for the day.
- Pay attention to food preferences. It doesn't matter how much a nutritionally sound diet that you come up with, if your client or loved one does not prefer that kind of food, they're not going to eat it! Look at the things that they like & work from that starting point. If they like pasta and sauce, try to find ways to incorporate healthy things into that dish, add vegetables or change the grains in the pasta to be a healthier option. If they don't like a certain type of food, respect that. They've been on the planet long enough to know what they like & what they don't!
- Think about ways you can incorporate similar things into you meal plan to cut down on food waste. For example, if you plan to have chicken breasts for chicken parm, buy a couple extra, bake them at the same time as the others & then have strips of chicken in a salad for lunch some time throughout the week. It will cut down on your time in the kitchen, and also provide another healthy meal. If you think like that all across the board, you'll be surprised at how many options you can come up with!
- If it's necessary, consider softer food options. Sometimes as we age, it can become necessary to have softer foods. Hot soup might become boring if served all of the time, but there are a number of things that are fairly easy to chew and swallow that are not soup. Bake squash, make mashed potatoes and carrots, enjoy fruit smoothies, & make egg dishes. You might also want to try out some cold soup options for your client or loved one. They can be delightful, especially when the temperatures start warming up!
- Whatever you decide to cook, make sure that it is served in an atmosphere that is conducive for digestion. Don't serve meals in front of the television. Food eaten slowly & with care is enjoyed more thoroughly. Food eaten with friends & loved ones is even better. Play their favorite music in the background. Discuss favorite topics. There is much more to healthy eating than the food itself!