January is National Soup Month! This presents the perfect opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen with your loved ones. While some people may think it’s challenging for seniors to cook, there are a variety of ways that you can help them make easy and healthy meals. Here are some tips for helping your senior relative to have a safe and enjoyable time cooking.
Focus on Meal Planning. Seniors may have different nutritional needs or requirements than other age groups. Be sure to take this into account when helping them plan their meals for the week. You may want to talk to their doctor to see if there are specific nutritional goals your loved one should be reaching. Once you have considered these factors, help your loved one plan a fun menu with a variety of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack foods. Be sure to include favorite meals, if possible, and include foods with a variety of colors and textures. After you have created a weekly menu, help your loved one take steps to prepare some of the meals in advance. Some suggestions of things you could try to include would be cooking meat to use for soup and tacos, cutting up fruit for salads and smoothies, and steaming rice to use with stir fry dinners.
Pick up Groceries Together. Take your loved one to their favorite grocery store or local farmer’s market to pick out fresh ingredients for the week. Not only will this help them stay connected to the cooking process, but it will also provide them with an opportunity for physical activity and social engagement. If you have time, you could also help the senior in your life create a small garden. Harvesting their own fruits and vegetables will help enhance independence and contribute to a sense of pride, as well as ensure that they are eating nutritious meals.
Invest in Safe Kitchen Appliances. Many home accidents happen in the kitchen. To help prevent accidents, try to help your senior relative invest in safe appliances. For example, crock pots can be great for seniors to use because they can use them to cook a variety of meals easily and safely. An instant pot is another excellent tool your loved one can use to make everything from soups to spaghetti, to mashed potatoes, rotisserie chicken, corn on the cob and even brownies. A timer is another helpful device that can be used throughout the cooking process. Additionally, for recipes that include chopping, consider buying pre-cut ingredients such as veggies and meat.
Adapt Recipes. If the senior in your life struggles to make all the recipes they used to in the past, try to adapt these recipes or find similar meals for them to try. Looking for some recipes that are easy for seniors to help with? Here are a few ideas.
Try making fruit salad or pasta salad with your loved one. Both of these meals are very simple to make and you can pack them with nutritious ingredients. Have your loved one wear gloves while peeling and cutting fruit to make the process extra safe.
You can also help the senior in your life make homemade vinaigrettes. You can put together different flavors to accompany a variety of salads. This is a very simple cooking activity which will help keep seniors engaged and excited about their meals. You can also adapt this concept to create different spaghetti sauces and creams for pasta.
Other ideas include making cupcakes and letting your loved one ice and decorate them, building homemade subs together, creating varieties of loaded baked potatoes, making homemade pizza and cooking different types of tacos.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many easy ways to help keep seniors active in the kitchen. By taking a few extra precautions to make sure your loved ones are safe, you can easily enjoy making a variety of foods and bonding with the seniors in your life.