Cooking and Eating Alone

Living alone may effect a person’s motivation to cook for themselves.  Older men particularly may find shopping or cooking more difficult. They may simply eat less or end up skipping meals altogether. Women who live alone may just grow tired of kitchen duties and lose interest in eating. These problems can be compounded by the fact that interest in food and appetite often decreases with age, anyway.
Requirements for nutrients do not diminish, however. Here are some tips to make cooking and eating easier and more pleasurable for older persons who live alone.
• Have standing invitations for dinner with different friends several nights a week.
• Create a new interest in eating by trying new foods, ethnic foods, or new recipes.
• Make meal time an event to look forward to.
• Eat near a window with a view you enjoy.
• Turn the television or radio on for company, or listen to your favorite music while eating.
• Use your best dishes and pretty placemats to create an attractive place setting.
• Plan meals in advance.
• Keep staple items such as canned or frozen foods on hand for days when you don’t feel like cooking.
• On days you do feel like cooking, cook large quantities.  Use divided, covered plates to create your own frozen dinners.
• Make meals appealing by using foods with various colors, textures, and temperatures at each meal.
• Buy smaller sized pots and pans for those times you are cooking just for yourself.
• Take advantage of the many convenience foods in the supermarket such as:  lowfat frozen entrees or dinners, lowfat frozen pancakes and waffles, egg substitutes, frozen vegetables without added sauces, soyburgers, lowfat yogurt and cheeses, canned or frozen fruit, bagged salads, salad bars, and deli items.
• Lots of frozen foods now can be purchased in larger packages that are designed to only take out what you need - vegetables, frozen chicken breasts, premade fish or chicken.  That way food is on hand for variety, but don't have to eat the same food for 3 days in a row.
• Fortified cereal is a good meal for many seniors.
By:  Beth Fontenot, MS, LDN, RD.

Breakfast:
• Microwave oatmeal: 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water and a pinch of cinnamon. Microwave for 3 minutes on high (covered) and then add 1/2 cup skim milk. Serve with fruit.
• Blender smoothie made with 1% or nonfat milk, fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, honey, dry milk powder, and ice cubes.
• Lowfat yogurt topped with a high fiber cereal and fresh berries.
Lunch:
• Bowl of vegetable soup served with whole grain crackers.
• Lowfat cheese sandwich made on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato.
• Peanut butter and sliced banana sandwich on whole wheat bread.
Dinner:
• Cold rice salad made with leftover cooked rice, peas, diced peppers, chopped peanuts, corn kernels, diced turkey, and lowfat dressing.
• Bowl of pinto beans with added peppers, onions, and diced tomatoes served with whole wheat tortillas.
• Soyburger on a bun with lowfat cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Snacks:
• Whole grain lowfat crackers spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins.
• Whole wheat crackers and fruit.
• A glass of nonfat milk, fruit or vegetable juice will help to balance out these small meals and snacks.
• Vegetables from the grocery store salad bar are ready to eat and can last a few days if covered and refrigerated properly.
B.F.

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