Good nutrition is important at any age, and never more so than in later years. A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meat or fish, and starches such as brown rice or whole grain pasta helps provide seniors with the nutrients they need.
However, staying healthy and eating well isn’t always easy for seniors. Caregivers may find themselves responsible for food shopping and preparation, and perhaps struggling to keep on top of it all.
Nutrition And Cooking Aren’t Always Easy For Seniors
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet can be challenging for seniors. There are many reasons older adults might struggle with preparing and eating food at home:
- Physical mobility or balance issues make it hard to chop meat or vegetables, manage a hot pan, or lift things in and out of the oven.
- Memory issues make it unsafe for seniors to cook because there is a risk of them leaving something to burn or even starting a fire
- Low moods, depression, fatigue or other health issues make it hard for seniors to feel motivated to cook
Without a caregiver present to prepare each meal, seniors might skip meals, or reach for easy but nutritionally weak options like processed foods.
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Meal Delivery Service: Would it Work for Your Loved One?
That’s where the right meal delivery service comes in. Having meals delivered makes life easier for seniors and their caregivers, and ensures seniors get a good, balanced diet.
There are many senior meal delivery options, but most fall into two main categories: Ready to cook, and ready to heat. Let’s compare them.
Ready To Cook: Meal Kits
Ready to cook services, also known as “meal kits” send out packages of fresh, tasty ingredients, with instructions on how to turn them into a delicious meal. Meal kit services offer an alternative to the more typical senior meal delivery companies that deliver pre-cooked meals.
How it works: Once an account is opened, these services send out all the ingredients to make meals, along with recipe cards explaining what to do.
Ideal for: Seniors who are still independent, active and well enough to enjoy cooking daily meals, or who live with a partner who is healthy and active enough to cook on a daily basis. Meal kits are also great for seniors who have no issue cooking, but find getting groceries a challenge. Everything they need comes right to them.
May not suit: Meal kits still involve a certain amount of cooking and prep, so they’re not ideal for seniors who struggle with cooking. Most meal kit options only cover 3 – 4 meals in a week, so they’re not suitable for seniors who need every meal taken care of.
Cost: Prices vary, but expect to pay around $12 for a box covering three meals for two people each week.
Ready To Heat: Meal Delivery
Ready to heat meal delivery services offer pre-prepped meals that are ready to go in the oven or microwave. Fresh, healthy delivered meals take the stress out of grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking, taking a lot of pressure off both seniors and caregivers.
Many of these services are designed especially for seniors, or offer seniors’ options on their website. Popular choices include Fresh ‘n Lean, Martha’s Senior Gourmet and Healthy Chef Creations. Most services also cater to different dietary needs, or have specific programs that focus on nutrition, weight loss, or other specific dietary goals.
How it works: Once an account is created, you select how many meals a day you want delivered (most services can cover all three meals plus snacks), and the meals are shipped out once or twice a week. Some need to be kept refrigerated, others need to be kept frozen. Then it’s simply a case of heat up the delivered meals, and enjoy!
Ideal for: Seniors who find it difficult to shop and cook, and who might not be safe in the kitchen, or simply are not able to source and prepare a properly balanced diet without help. Ready to heat senior meal delivery means they can have every meal covered if needed, with no stress or fuss.
May not suit: Seniors who still enjoy cooking and/or shopping. Those on a tight budget, as meal delivery services can run a little pricey, especially if several meals are being covered.
Cost: Prices vary, but expect to pay upwards of $30 daily for a full senior meal delivery service that covers three meals plus a snack.
If the senior in your life is struggling with healthy eating, or you are finding food preparation a strain, a meal delivery service or meal kit takes the pressure off and helps ensure a healthy, nutritious diet for older adults.