Tips on Meal Prepping for Seniors

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Hi there and welcome to our career training series. I’m Ruby and I’m one of the recruiters here at myCNAjobs. Today’s training session is to help provide some key tips on how to cook for seniors, making it easier for you and your patient or loved one to keep a healthy balanced diet. You don’t have to be a master chef to help a senior have a fully belly enriched with nutrition. Cooking is a labor of love and with these tips you will be able to have a better understanding of what to do to help your patient enjoy their meals, all while helping them stay healthy. Eating healthy is very important, especially when it comes to seniors. Did you know it can be detrimental a seniors health if they are not served with the proper nutrition? This is a key part of any caregiver or CNA job.

So, let’s dive in.  Today we’re going to talk about

  1. Why Seniors Have different Nutritional Needs
  2. How to make food directed for Senior Palates
  3. Key Nutritional Vitamins for Seniors
  4. How to prevent Senior Malnutrition
  5. How to solve common Senior Diet Issues  

#1 - Why Seniors Have different Nutritional Needs
As humans we go through many physical and physiological changes as we grow older, these changes can vary from dental, gastrointestinal, and even our taste palate. That is why it is important to adjust accordingly to your patient and their needs. Over the years our  taste buds decrease, and the way we taste food differs. The taste in food is completely different than what we were used to in the past, often taking more bitter or sour. Loss of smell can also play a role to being less satisfied with a meal - what used to be an amazing aroma attached with every meal, has changed to a less appealing smell. This is why portion size and food presentation is especially important for seniors with strict diet requirements. Not to mention other aging-related changes such as dentition and gastrointestinal changes. The loss of teeth or use of dentures requires specific foods to help the patient be able to chew, and enjoy without discomfort. Gastrointestinal changes such as constipation, chronic gastritis, or delayed stomach emptying and gas are require special attention to meals to help avoid discomfort. This is why it is important to pay attention and use your time to prepare what will help your patient living a more fulfilling diet.

#2 - How to make food directed for Senior Palates
  • Adding fresh herbs, spices, onion, garlic, ginger can add flavor without relying on less healthy salt
  • Consider frozen veggies- they have similar benefits as fresh
  • Buy plenty of nuts and high fiber food- these can help lower blood cholesterol & helps keep them full
  • Add naturally sweet foods instead of real sugar- such as yams or sweet potatoes
#3 - Key Nutritional Vitamins for Seniors
  1. Folic Acid 400 mcg per day: Foods rich in Folic Acid: spinach, asparagus, breakfast cereal, lentils.
  2. B-12 2.4 mcg per day: Foods rich in B-12: turkey, salmon, crab, clams, mussels, chicken, beef, eggs, milk.
  3. Vitamin C 75-90 mg per day: Foods rich in Vitamin C: oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet red pepper, broccoli, potatoes.
  4. Vitamin D 600-800 IU per day: Foods rich in Vitamin D: canned salmon, sardines or mackerel, instant oatmeal, cereal, egg yolk, soy milk, cow's milk or orange juice fortified with Vitamin D.
  5. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Foods rich in EFAs: flaxseed oil, canned tuna, oysters, herring or sardines, salmon, trout, crab.
#4 - How to help prevent Senior Malnutrition
  • Check the refrigerator and observe eating habits
  • Watch for health changes and fluctuation in weight
  • Encourage foods rich in the 5 key vitamins and nutrients
  • Boost hydration with 9 glasses of water a day
  • Meal Prep days ahead
#5 - How to solve common Senior Diet Issues

Although you may be trying your hardest to instill a healthy balanced diet for your patient, you may run into some common problems, not to worry we are here to help.

  • If your patient can’t chew, here’s what to do
    • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juices and soft canned fruits, such as applesauce, peaches and pears.
    • Instead of raw vegetables, try vegetable juices; creamed, mashed and cooked vegetables.
    • Instead of chewy meat as a protein, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and foods made with milk, such as pudding and cream soups.
    • Instead of sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies.
  • If your patient has an Upset Stomach
    • Instead of milk, try milk foods that may not upset the stomach, such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cheese.
    • Instead of vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, try vegetable juices and other vegetables, such as green beans, carrots and potatoes.
    • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juices and soft canned fruits.
  • If your patient has No Appetite
    • First it’s important to understand that there can be many reasons for loss of appetitive such as depression and being on certain medications. So first, understand. Second, here’s how you can help

    • Make their sole provider aware of the situation
    • Try to cook their favorite foods
    • Increase the flavor of food by adding spices and herbs
    • Talk to their doctor, about their medication, so they can adjust if needed

Well, that’s it folks.  Best of luck caring for your patient and loved one and I hope you learned something today.  If you like what you saw here today, there are more caregiver training videos and free resources available at or call us to talk to a recruiter directly at 312-275-3959.

Cooking for seniors is a common responsibility for Caregivers and CNAs. You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare nutritious meals for you clients. Cooking is a labor of love, and this video will share tips that make it easy for you and your patient to keep a healthy and balanced diet. Eating healthy is important for everyone, especially seniors. In this video we’ll cover why seniors have different nutritional needs, how to make food directed for senior palates, key nutritional vitamins for seniors, how to prevent senior malnutrition, and how to solve common senior diet issues.