18 Quick and Easy Meals for Older Adults
Here, our experts recommend 18 quick and easy meals for older adults. Follow these recipes and make sure your parent is getting all the nutrition they need.
Many of us worry about whether our parents or grandparents are eating enough and getting the right balanced diet for their age group. These are valid concerns: appetites tend to decrease for older adults as they become less physically active, but they still need a lot of nutrition.
There could be a number of reasons why the older adult in your life isn’t getting enough of the right nutrition; it could be because shopping and cooking are much more demanding tasks than they used to be.
With that in mind, we have put together 18 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinnner. They are all quick and easy to make, and contain all the important nutrition, making them perfect meals for older adults. Before you get cooking, however, make sure you keep their GP in the loop, checking with them about food restrictions before planning menus.
- Warm porridge and berries. Place frozen or fresh berries in a slow cooker at a low heat setting. Add a small knob of butter and one serving of porridge oats and water. Cover and cook on low, for several hours (or overnight). This will give it the consistency of bread and butter pudding. (Alternatively, simply stir in some berries to warm porridge.)
- A hard-boiled egg. Accompany with a side of fresh fruit and a slice of whole-grain toast.
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles. For extra fibre, choose a brand that contains flax. Then top with fresh berries. For protein, also eat a handful of walnuts or almonds.
- Yoghurt parfait. Mix together yogurt, nuts and fruit. It's a good combo of healthy fat, Vitamin C and carbohydrates.
- Power toast. For healthy fat and some protein, spread peanut butter or almond butter on whole-wheat toast; enjoy fresh fruit on the side.
- Poached egg. Place egg on top of whole-wheat toast and steamed asparagus. Top with a small amount of butter.
- Quinoa salad. Sauté pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables (onion, red pepper, mushrooms). Combine with pine nuts or pecans and cooked quinoa. Toss with Italian salad dressing. Eat fresh, warm or cold; keeps well refrigerated. It is recommended to steam or sauté vegetables in olive oil instead of boiling, which drains the nutrients.
- Eggs and red potatoes. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan; chop up potatoes and add to the pan over a medium heat. Cover for 2 minutes. Then, pour scrambled eggs over potatoes, add pepper and toss until eggs are hot. Rather than season with salt, which can lead to water retention and high blood pressure, use fresh herbs and spices.
- Cottage fries. Slice parboiled red potatoes. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook the potatoes at a medium heat. Top with leftover vegetables and grated mature cheddar cheese. Cover, let steam and serve.
- Southwest omelette. Beat 2 eggs. Put 1 Tbs. olive oil in a frying pan. Pour in the egg mixture; add chunks of pepper jack cheese and salsa or chilli sauce. When eggs are firm, fold and serve with sliced avocado. Tip: Chilli and spices help boost diminished taste buds.
- Salmon wrap. Place tinned boneless skinless salmon on a whole grain wrap. Add chopped avocado, tomatoes, greens and plain yoghurt. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve.
- Baked or grilled salmon steak. Top each steak with tomatoes, sweet onion, dried or fresh basil, chopped garlic and 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Wrap each piece of fish tightly in aluminium foil and place in the oven on a low heat (300 degrees). If the fish is thawed, cook for about 15 minutes. Dinner is ready when the fish is flaky, but still moist.
- Lamb and potatoes. (If you can keep some parboiled red potatoes on hand, you can prepare fast and easy meals.) Form minced lamb into small meatballs. Tear fresh basil into slivers, or use a pinch of dried basil. Slice pre-cooked red potatoes into small pieces. Slice a clove of garlic. Warm extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté the garlic and basil on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lamb; brown. Add potatoes; cover for 10 min. Toss ingredients; add a dash of ground pepper. Cook for an additional 5 min.
- Shrimp and pasta. Heat a knob of butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a saucepan. Add chopped fresh herbs, garlic and a handful of shrimp. Toss and cook until shrimp is done. Place on a bed of pasta and top with chopped fresh tomatoes.
- Liver and fennel. Place liver slices in a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. Top with chopped fennel, ted onion and cabbage. Cover and steam until liver is tender. Serve.
- Beans and rice. Heat up a can of black, pinto or white beans. Serve with brown rice, oats or barley. You can warm the meal in a slow cooker and serve later.
- Shrimp and fresh greens. Sauté fresh vegetables in a saucepan (again, you can buy pre-cut veggies), with olive oil. Add cocktail shrimp, which can be bought peeled, cooked and chilled. Serve with a berry vinaigrette salad dressing and lime slices.
- Southwest chicken salad. Cook boneless, skinless chicken breast on a medium heat in a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. Add salsa. Shred chicken and reserve in refrigerator to use for wraps, salad or soup.
When Cooking Is No Longer an Option
You should make sure you observe your elderly loved ones, and be alert for signs that they might not be as handy -- or safe -- in the kitchen as they once were.
Some clues the senior needs help with meal prep are: spoiled food in the refrigerator, an empty refrigerator, diminished energy or strength lifting dishes in and out of the cupboard, a burner is left on, cutting skills are shaky, pans are burned (signs they were left on the stove too long).
Some organisations that may be able to provide help are:
- Royal Voluntary Service – Meals on Wheels: The organisation caters to specific cultural and dietary requirements, delivering hot or frozen meals to those who need it across the UK. The drivers are also instructed to ensure the older person is safe and well, for extra reassurance.
- Wiltshire Farm Foods: With a specific focus on nutrition, this UK organisation delivers meals to the elderly on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Everything is cooked fresh and immediately frozen to keep the nutrients locked in. A regular driver can also be arranged in order to provide a familiar friendly face.
- Elderly Care: Find a carer for the elderly on Care.com’s website who will assist your elderly loved on with shopping and meal preparation, making sure they get the right nutrition