senior cookingPreparing for and cooking delicious, homemade food is a very therapeutic activity. Senior citizens can especially benefit from planning dishes, shopping for ingredients, and preparing their own meals. Even if the you are unable to accomplish these tasks alone, cooking with a caregiver is very enjoyable and will provide companionship as well.

Planning Meals

Sitting down and planning out a menu of meals for the week is a great way to stay mentally active and ensure you are eating a healthy diet. Printing or drawing out a 7-day calendar with spaces to write in breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks is a good place to start.

Planning dinner, the main meal of the day, is a smart way to begin. That way, if you anticipate there will be leftovers, you can carry those leftovers over to the next day’s lunch and pencil them in. Once dinners are thought out, decide what you would like to have for breakfast each day, and for lunch if you are not going to be eating leftovers. Don’t forget snacks!

After the entire week’s menus are written out, begin to make your shopping list. Write down the meats and proteins you’ll be cooking first in the amounts needed for your recipes, followed by side-dish ingredients, any pantry items you will need, and finish up with fruits and vegetables.

Shopping for Ingredients

Shopping can be fun, and it is a great way to socialize and get some exercise. It is a good idea to ask a caregiver to come along to the store with you. This way you have some company and some help getting your groceries into your vehicle, and into the house when you return home.

You can either choose to do your shopping at a large grocery store that will likely have everything you need in one location. Or, you can purchase your meat from a local butcher, and your fruit and vegetables from a farmers’ market. Going to a variety of grocery sources will allow for more socialization and more exercise, not to mention fresher food for cooking.

Let’s Get Cooking!

If you have the benefit of seeing your caregiver on a daily basis, you can certainly cook your meals for one day at a time. Or alternatively, if your caregiver only comes in a few times per week, you can decide to do a few days worth of cooking all at once, and refrigerate or freeze the meals as necessary to keep them fresh.

Next, choose which cooking or preparation activities you feel comfortable doing. For instance, do you want to cut up vegetables for the recipes, or would you rather your caregiver do so? Are you comfortable standing at the stove and stirring a pot, or are you more at ease sitting down and letting your caregiver do so instead?

Communicate your wishes and needs to your caregiver so he or she knows exactly how you want to participate, and what you expect the caregiver to do for you.

Most importantly, enjoy the cooking experience!  Knowing that you are contributing to making your own fresh, healthy meals is a wonderful thing.

The Benefits of Cooking at Home With a Caregiver

Through companion care services, or with your own family member, cooking can be a great collaborative process.  Some of the benefits include:

1) You will be mentally active by planning out your meals and calculating the amounts of meats, proteins, produce, and other ingredients you need for your recipes. Math is very good for keeping mentally alert.

2) You will be physically active not only while cooking your own meals with your caregiver, but while shopping for your groceries every week.

3) While you are out shopping for groceries, you have the ability to socialize. You can talk with various employees at the grocery store, your butcher, farmers at the local market, and your caregiver. It is widely known that maintaining a variety of friendships is good for your health.

4) You can ensure that you are receiving optimal nutrition, including plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber by planning, shopping for and preparing your own meals.

For More Information

To learn more about the joy of cooking and food in general, we’ve collected some great resources below.

Food safety for adults 60+
Cooking for Seniors:  How to Make Great Tasting Food for the Senior Palate
Eating Well Over 50
Senior Recipes for Healthy Eating

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