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.
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 to be 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.
Why Should Seniors Use Meal Delivery?
Many seniors struggle to cook healthy meals for themselves. There are a host of challenges associated with meal planning and preparation. Getting to the grocery store or carrying groceries home is difficult for people with mobility issues.
Food preparation is challenging for seniors who struggle with issues such as vision or balance problems, or arthritic hands.
As a result of these challenges, it’s not always easy for seniors to eat regular, healthy meals. This is a cause for concern among carers who want to be sure their senior eats well, but don’t have the time and resources to see to all their meals.
For many, a senior meal delivery service is the answer to these problems.
A Senior Meal Delivery Service Can Reduce Stress
A senior meal delivery service takes the stress out of meal times. Older adults can relax knowing that delicious, nutritious meals are on their way. Caregivers feel at ease knowing their loved one is taken care of.
It’s clear that a meal delivery service is a great option for some seniors. In fact, having support with meal preparation might even make a difference to whether someone can stay in their home or not.
Tips to Choosing the Best Meal Delivery for Seniors
How do you go about choosing a meal delivery company? Here are some questions to help you decide.
Do You Need Ready to Heat or Ready to Cook?
Ready to heat and ready to cook are very different services.
Ready to heat means all delivered meals are ready-prepared, and simply need to be heated up in the oven or microwave before eating. This is the best service for people who find it hard to cook.
Ready to cook, on the other hand, means you will receive all the ingredients for your meals, plus recipe cards with instructions. These services may not be suitable for all, but they are good for those who still enjoy cooking but struggle with meal planning and grocery shopping.
How Many Meals Need to Be Covered?
If your loved one is capable of cooking sometimes or has family or caregivers able to prepare some meals or stock the freezer, you won’t need every meal covered. However, seniors who cannot cook for themselves and don’t have anyone on hand to prepare meals may need all meals covered.
What’s Your Budget?
Having meals delivered varies in cost. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay around $30 per day and up for a meal delivery service that covers three meals a day, plus snacks. We recommend comparing a few different services to find out which offers the best value for money.
Ready to cook services start around $11/serving for a box (about $52/box including shipping) covering three main meals for two people. This option is cheaper, but may not suitable for everyone.
Which Services Deliver in Your Area?
There are also several local delivery services out there, such as Martha’s Senior Gourmet, which delivers in the Los Angeles area, so it’s worth running a search for local meal delivery services on Google.
What About Specific Dietary Requirements?
It’s easier than ever to have meals delivered that meet specific dietary requirements. For example, Diet-to-Go offers heart healthy, diabetic, heart-healthy, Keto and vegetarian options.
Silver Cuisine offers a selection of different dietary options, including low sodium, low carb, diabetic and heart-healthy.
No matter what you or your loved ones' dietary requirements, you are bound to find a meal service that caters to them.
Does the Meal Delivery Cater Specifically to Older Adults?
Some delivered meals, such as those from Diet-to-Go, Silver Bistro MD and Magic Kitchen are created especially with seniors in mind.
Some services, such as Healthy Chef Creations, offer a special senior option. Other services might cater to a wider audience, but still cover your any specific dietary needs.
There is no right or wrong here, as long as you choose an option that covers any dietary needs your loved one has, and that delivers meals they enjoy. Many services offer a short trial or have a cancel-at-any-time policy, so you can try more than one if you like.
Are There Reviews Online?
It’s a good idea to look around at reviews. With so many review sites and message boards online, you’ll normally find at least a handful of reviews and testimonials for each service. Seeing what other people are saying about them can help you make your decision.
With so many senior meal delivery options, and with the industry not going anywhere in the near future, there’s no need for you and your loved one to struggle with getting healthy meals on the table. Of course, budget may be a constraint, but even having one or two meals a week taken care of can make a big difference.
Start checking out options today and take the stress out of senior meals.