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6 Meal Prep Strategies for Family Caregivers

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Caregivers have to juggle many responsibilities, and their busy schedules rarely leave much time for meal prep. However, seniors need nutritious food options and fresh, home-cooked meals to maintain their health. Here are six strategies caregivers can use to optimize their meal prep time. 

1. Plan Ahead

Eating healthy often requires planning ahead. If you start thinking about what to serve your loved one for dinner at 5pm, you’re more likely to opt for food that’s easy to cook but unhealthy, like frozen entrees. When you plan out your loved one’s weekly food schedule ahead of time, it takes the guesswork out of meal prep. Every Sunday, sit down with your loved one and plan out the week’s meals. Make sure each meal is senior-friendly, ranging from protein-rich chicken dishes to high-fiber lentil soups. Once the meal schedule is planned, head to the grocery store to ensure the right ingredients are on hand. 

Consider hiring a professional caregiver if you need someone to provide care to your senior loved one and prepare nutritious meals for him or her. In Phoenix, elder care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Understand Your Loved One’s Preferences 

As seniors age, they often become more particular about what they eat. While planning nutritious meals sounds like a foolproof plan, it can backfire when healthy foods don’t satisfy a senior’s taste preferences. Buy healthy cooking books, and let your loved one select recipes that look tasty. If your loved one enjoys a particular recipe, don’t be afraid to repeat it often. Many seniors don’t mind mealtime consistency. 

3. Buy Groceries Online

Even if you head to the grocery store with a list in hand, wandering the aisles may be an arduous process. To save time, consider ordering groceries online and having them delivered at your doorstep. 

4. Save Leftovers 

Caregivers cooking for two people often end up with leftovers. Purchase high-quality storage containers and save leftovers for nights you don’t feel like cooking. There are many healthy dinner foods that store well in the freezer, like soups, stews, and casseroles. When you have a well-stocked freezer filled with hearty chicken noodle soup, turkey chili, and other healthy options, you won’t have to serve your loved one high-calorie fast food or frozen dinners. 

5. Supplement with Smoothies

Meeting a senior’s nutritional requirements can be challenging. Your loved one may be experiencing diminished hunger, or his or her taste buds may have changed. When you have to cook for a food-averse senior, supplement the meals with healthy smoothies. By blending protein powder with almond milk, ice, fruit, and vegetables, you can ensure your loved one gets a healthy dose of protein and vitamins. 

Some seniors need help preparing nutritious meals and healthy smoothies. If your loved one needs help maintaining healthy habits and accomplishing daily tasks, a caregiver from Home Care Assistance Phoenix can help. Our caregivers are expertly trained to provide mental and social stimulation, assist with exercise, prepare nutritious meals, and much more.

6. Invest in a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker can be a major time saver for overworked caregivers. Select a healthy, easy-to-make recipe, add the ingredients, and let the concoction simmer. At the end of the day, your loved one’s dinner will be tender, tasty, and ready to eat. Many popular slow cooker meals such as vegetable medleys make great leftovers.

Preparing healthy meals for a senior loved one can be a challenging job, especially if you have other important tasks to tend to. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Phoenix, AZ, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To learn about our high-quality in-home care options, call us at 602.388.1085 today.