Caregiving takes up a lot of your time, and one area that may be particularly time-consuming for you is preparing meals. Between planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, it can feel like a full-time job. Not only that, making meals for a senior loved one can be complicated, whether they have many dietary restrictions and nutritional needs or are simply a picky eater (or both!).
Something that can be an incredibly powerful tool for caregivers is meal prep. Meal prep is essentially taking time one day to prepare food for several days or a week at a time, and it can be an excellent way to save hours in the kitchen per week. The key is to find a system that works for your lifestyle.
With that in mind, here are some tips that may help you and your family make the most out of meal prep.
Get Ideas From Their Health Care Provider
First off, you want to make sure that you have guidelines on what your senior loved one can and can’t eat. Depending on their medical conditions, they may have dietary restrictions that are imperative to address. They may need nutritional supplements as well. Make sure to consult with their care provider before creating your meal plan to ensure that what you make is in line with your loved one’s health needs.
Generally, seniors have unique nutritional requirements that you will want to keep in mind. Some things you might have to consider is the amount of sugar in the food you cook if they’re diabetic, a need for a higher protein intake as we age, a lack of appetite, or difficulty swallowing.
Once you know your loved one’s nutritional needs, you can begin brainstorming meal prep ideas. Do they have any foods from childhood they would like to eat? Is there a type of cuisine they prefer? These questions can help inform your search.
Once you have that nailed down, make a list of easy recipes in three columns: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Adding as many as possible to these lists will help you plan for the future.
Create a Template
Having a template for your meal plans can be enormously helpful. Having a visual representation of what you will be eating is key for keeping organized. Many people like planning their meals a week at a time. This can help you to create your grocery list for the entire week so your kitchen is stocked and ready to go. This also reduces the number of decisions you need to make — instead of spending every night trying to decide what to cook, you already know what you will be cooking and you’re fully stocked.
Use Free Time Wisely
With how busy you are, it’s wise to use some of your free time to prepare to make meals during the week. You might benefit from cooking all the meals over the weekend if you have a few hours you can block out for it. That way, all you have to do is grab a meal out of the fridge during the week. Alternatively, if you would prefer to cook every day of the week, you can take some steps to make that process simple. For example, you can cut up veggies or make sauces in advance so you simply throw it in the pan when you’re ready to cook.
Preparing healthy food for your loved one isn’t always easy when you have a busy schedule. If this is your issue, you may benefit from private home care in Naples. Contact us today to get started.