Healthy Meal Planning Tips for Single Seniors

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 3, 2019
Healthy Meal Planning Tips for Single Seniors
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One struggle older adults who live alone face is cooking healthy meals for one person. Many lack the motivation to spend time in the kitchen when they are the only person eating. Others who have given up driving have difficulty making frequent trips to the grocery store to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

As we start the new year, we share a few tips to help single seniors eat well-balanced meals.

Making Mealtime Easier for Single Seniors

1. Healthy shortcuts: You can reduce the time you spend in the kitchen by taking advantage of healthy shortcuts. While precut, packaged lettuce is a timesaver, a single senior might not be able to eat the whole bag before it goes bad. Ditto for other vegetables. Instead, shop at the store’s salad bar. Most have a variety of lettuces, vegetables, and other tasty ingredients. You can purchase as much—or as little—as you are likely to use that week.

Precooked, whole chickens are another healthy convenience food. Most grocery stores offer a variety of seasoned chicken ranging from barbecue to rosemary. You can use these for entrees, soups, or salads.

2. Storage ideas: Another challenge seniors who are cooking for one might face is storing healthy foods in ways that prolong their shelf life. A few ideas for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh longer include:

  • Freezing: Berries, peppers, carrots, corn, and peas can be bought fresh in bigger quantities, then split up to freeze.
  • Produce storage bags: You can purchase special reusable bags designed to help your produce last longer. Some can almost double the length of time your vegetables will stay fresh.
  • Clean refrigerator: Keeping your refrigerator clean with enough space for circulation also helps improve shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
  • Paper towels: To increase the life of lettuce, store it in a glass container with a paper towel. Cover it with plastic. The paper towel will absorb the moisture and help keep the lettuce from getting soggy.
  • Cool, dry storage: Not all fruits and vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator. Keep tomatoes, potatoes, and onions in a dark, dry place instead.
3. Batch cooking: Pick a few days a month to bake and freeze healthy entrees. Cooking in batches can help you make the most of prep time. Store entrees in glass freezer-to-oven containers.

4. Menu rotation: Develop four to six weeks of menu plans that you can rotate through. This helps you avoid food waste.

5. Cooking apps: Tech-savvy seniors might find meal planning apps useful. Apps like Mealime and FoodPlanner do everything from breaking down nutritional information to generating a grocery list.

6. Meal sharing: If you have other single friends, work together to share meals. Plan what each person will make ahead of time, and then meet up to swap dishes. It’s a great way to stock up your freezer!

We hope these tips help make eating healthy a little easier!

If you are searching for meals to make and freeze, “10 Healthy Make-Ahead Meals for Seniors and Caregivers” may be of interest. From mini-vegetable lasagna to chicken hand pies and slow cooker fajitas, you are sure to find a few options your taste buds will enjoy!