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18 Quick and Easy Meals for Seniors

Donna Jackel
March 26, 2018

Poached eggs, salmon wraps, southwest chicken salad and more.

If you're concerned you or the senior in your life isn't getting enough nutrition, there may be a number of reasons, such as grocery shopping or cooking are too difficult, or meals just aren't as fun to eat alone.

Tammera Karr, a board certified holistic nutritionist in Roseburg, OR, and Kristi Von Ruden, a registered and licensed dietitian who plans meals for nursing home residents and geriatric outpatients at Northfield Hospital & Clinics in Northfield, MN, came up with 18 easy and tasty meal ideas for seniors.

But before you get cooking, Mary Stehle, LICSW and senior care advisor for Care.com, advises you keep your senior's doctor in the loop, and be sure to check with the medical team about food restrictions before planning menus.

Get in-home help: Find a senior caregiver for your loved one

Breakfast

  • Warm oatmeal and berries. Place frozen or fresh berries in a crockpot at a low heat setting. Add a pat of butter and one serving of old-fashioned oats and water. Cover and cook on low, for several hours (or overnight). This will give it the consistency of bread pudding. (The easier option is adding berries to warm oatmeal.)
  • A hard-boiled egg. Accompany with a side of fresh fruit and a slice of whole-wheat toast.
  • Whole grain pancakes or waffles. For extra fiber, choose a brand that contains flax. Then top with fresh berries. For protein, also eat a handful of walnuts or almonds.
  • Yogurt 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.

Lunch

  • Quinoa salad. Saut? 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. The USDA recommends steaming or saut?ing vegetables in olive oil instead of boiling, which drains the nutrients.
  • Eggs and red potatoes. Melt a pat of butter in a skillet; chop up potatoes and add to skillet, over a medium heat. Cover skillet for 2 min. 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 skillet and cook the potatoes at a medium heat. Top with leftover vegetables and grated sharp cheddar cheese. Cover, let steam and serve.
  • Southwest omelet. Beat 2 eggs. Put 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet. Pour in the egg mixture; add pepper jack cheese chunks and natural salsa or chili sauce. When eggs are firm, fold and serve with sliced avocado. Tip: Chili and spices help boost diminished taste buds.
  • Salmon wrap. Place canned Alaskan boneless skinless salmon on a whole grain wrap. Add chopped avocado, tomatoes, greens and plain yogurt. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve.

Dinner

  • Baked or grilled Alaskan salmon. 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 aluminum 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 ground 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 skillet. Saut? 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 pat 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 skillet 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 crockpot and serve later.
  • Shrimp and fresh greens. Saut? 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 skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Add salsa. Shred chicken and reserve in refrigerator to use for wraps, salad or soup.


The daily serving recommendations for seniors, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are:

  • 1-1/2 to 2 servings of fresh fruit 
  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups of fresh vegetables (e.g. anti-oxidant rich dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, as well as oranges and yellows, such as carrots and squash)
  • 1,200 mg. calcium (e.g., low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli and almonds) 
  • 6 to 7 ounces of grains (choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and a higher fiber count)
  • approximately 65 grams of protein

When Cooking Is No Longer an Option

Mary Stehle, LICSW, senior care advisor at Care.com advises caretakers to carefully observe their elderly loved ones, and be alert for signs that the senior might not be as handy -- or safe -- in the kitchen as he once was.

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 organizations that may be able to provide help are:

  • Meals on Wheels Association of America: Prepares and delivers more than one million meals to seniors each day.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This is the government food assistance plan once referred to as Food Stamps. Seniors who have trouble affording fresh fruits and vegetables and other food can apply.
  • Schwan's: a national grocery store, delivers frozen meals-breakfast, lunch and dinner-door to door every two weeks.
  • Netgrocer: An online grocery store, delivers perishable and frozen foods, along with other groceries, within three to seven business days. Also look at Peapod.com, depending where you live.

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Comments
James in Phoenix, AZ
Feb. 21, 2018

Good to read!

User
June 18, 2016

I'm 75; cooking for myself. I make microwave chicken often. A tiny baking dish. 1100 or 1200 watt microwave. Put a skinless boneless frozen chicken breast [or any part of chicken of choice] in baking dish; nuke for 5 minutes. Now cut into bite-size pieces and drain. Add-- of choice-- salsa. OR veggies like a diced fresh pear tomato & diced onion & shredded carrot & spinach leaves or other veggies of preference. Spices of choice. Olive oil and vinegar [red or white wine vinegar; or apple cider vinegar]. Wrap the dish with plastic film to seal. Nuke again for 7 minutes. Chicken & veggies make a full meal in under 20 minutes complete. Chicken is steamed and soft and moist. Sausage Entree: 7 or 8 ounces of Fully Cooked sausage. First choice is beef sausage; then Andouille Sausage. Cut sausage in short lengths or 'coins' or in half lengthwise and then crosswise to short length. It goes very quickly with a sharp knife. put sausage chunks in small bowl with one inch of water; cover; nuke in the 1100 - 1200 Watt microwave for 5 minutes. Drain. Add to sauteed salad or fresh cold salad. OR serve on rice with salsa and call it Tex-Mex Style. Standard salad is spinach leaves; sliced black olives [drained, from a can]; diced fresh tomatoes [pear/Roma tomatoes are usually the cheapest and are the most solid inside]; shredded carrot is optional. This salad can be served from a supply bowl in the fridge as is or sauteed in olive oil. Add meat of choice as an option. Salsa is an easy & quick dressing for salad with meat or make dressing from Italian mixed spices and olive oil and vinegar of choice. If you use Seasoned Vinegar of any kind do not add more spices or salt. For myself I do not add any salt. There is enough salt in the meat and other foods. Salsa has a lot of salt in it. Pasta: put enough olive oil in the cooking water to make a film [mostly] across the surface. Add table salt for the iodine content. Put Italian Mixed Spices in the water to flavor the noodles. For the sauce: we eat too much sugar in everything. A not-very-sweet sauce can be made by using Ragu Traditional sauce and adding a can of Hunts Tomato Sauce. [I have no connection to these companies or other interest.] Hunts Tomato Sauce has a unique flavor. Ragu Traditional is the least sweet commercial sauce my wife could find. The result will be a very good not-sweet spaghetti/pasta sauce that takes as quickly as you can open the can/jar to make. I use Uncle Ben's rice that comes pre-cooked in a pouch. Microwave according to instructions. I just hit the \

User
March 20, 2016

At the top you say anti-oxidant such as spinach, WRONG if someone is on a blood thinner. Spinach and kale are high in vitamin K which you should not consume if you are on blood thinners.

I would open my own kitchen to provide nutritious meals to seniors if I could! Since I can't this website has been very helpful! Thank you

User
June 12, 2015

Thank you for these senior meal suggestions. Very helpful. Ann Eifert

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