Chapter 2: Meals and feeding
I learned that the simpler, the better – for both of us. My husband started to want blander food, and I needed quick and easy. It was all good.
Preparing food is probably something that you will do often. While you may be an excellent cook who loves trying new dishes and preparing elaborate meals, when you are giving care to someone, this may no longer be possible. Learning how to prepare meals efficiently in time and energy is one of the most important things for you to figure out. Time-saving and simple will probably become your priorities.
Meal preparation is far more complex and time-consuming than we often think. It includes the following:
- Meal planning including appropriate textures and aromas of foods for the person who is ill.
- Making a shopping list and purchasing food.
- Preparing the meal and serving the food.
- Storing leftovers and cleaning up.
Ready? Set? Go! – Suggestions for efficient meal preparation
Below are several tips and strategies that can help you save time and keep meal preparation simple. Click on each tab to view.
Prepare a menu for one or two weeks at a time.
Have a file of appropriate recipes close at hand.
Choose recipes with minimal prep time.
Add an extra ingredient or two (e.g., cheese or ham) to make a simple dish more satisfying.
Repeat a few favourite meals (e.g., tuna melt Tuesday; tomato soup and grilled cheese on Fridays). This can make things easier and be something to look forward to.
Keep in mind the need for a diversity of foods to avoid a deficiency of micronutrients (e.g., grilled cheese sandwiches can be made with different cheeses).
Make extra you can freeze or serve again the next day.
Have a standard shopping list for the meals you cook regularly.
Be prepared to adjust the meal plan for changes in food preferences.
Consider frozen meals that are quick to plate; these can be very useful when the person’s appetite is erratic.
What may help
Involve the person who is ill if possible
Given the many demands on you as a caregiver, how can you still manage to make meal preparation and mealtimes enjoyable? If the person who is ill is open to it, one possibility is to involve them in as many aspects of meal and food prep as possible. Preparing food together can be enjoyable for both of you.
Accept help from others
People often offer to help, but it may be difficult on the spot to think of what someone can do. Try to have a list ready for when someone asks. Here are some suggestions of ways they can help:
- Grocery shopping (ideally, regularly).
- Finding recipes for easy-to-prepare meals.
- Staying with the person who is ill while you
- Bringing prepared food (e.g., a casserole, lasagna, or roast).