Cooking for one

Some people don’t mind cooking for one, but when it comes as a new task it can make daily food preparation a lonely feat.

If your partner goes into an aged care home, or sadly passes away, and they were the family chef, it may mean you need to brush up your culinary skills at a time of life when you would rather hang up your apron.

It’s important to maintain a well balanced diet in your golden years because, simply, good food helps you stay well according to accredited practicing dietitian  and the Bupa dietitian team leader, Rosalyn D’Angelo.

“Eating well can [help] improve energy levels, immune system and mental acuity. Healthy eating can [also] help people maintain a healthy weight, which can [help] decrease your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease- and also reduce pressure on joints,” says Rosalyn. “Evidence suggests that a well-balanced healthy diet can [also] play a role in promoting brain health.”

Older people are at a higher risk of malnutrition with deficiencies in micronutrients often detected, possibly due to eating smaller meals, less often, and without as much variety.

“As people get older they tend to eat less. This can make it hard to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. Because of this, it’s important to make the most of every meal and snack, and go for really nutrient dense foods, and try not to fill up on foods that won’t offer much in the way of nutrition like chips, chocolate and biscuits,” tells Rosalyn.

“These foods can of course still be enjoyed in moderation, but it’s important to prioritise nutrient dense foods first like dairy foods, fish, lean meats, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds.”

A lack of interest in spending hours creating feasts is one issue, but the logistics of shopping and stocking the pantry can also play a role in dietary demise in the older generation.

“Older  people may find it harder to shop and prepare food, not being able to source and cook food as they may have been able to previously can further increase the risk of malnutrition. Some easy things to keep in the cupboard include canned vegetables, fruit, legumes and lentils ([for example] four bean mix), instant brown rice and tinned fish,” says Rosalyn.

A little planning can go a long way, as can cooking extra in order to freeze single portions for a later date. Soups and stews are perfect for this kind of thing.

Meals that can be thrown together in 15 minutes with enough leftovers for a second or third meal will be your best friend, so take a look at these suggestions before you do your next shop.
Elderly woman cooking
Tuna and Herb Salad
Fresh chopped tomato, torn fresh basil, tuna and olives or capers tossed with a tin of cannellini beans with a squeeze of lemon is delicious and simple. You can add a handful of cooked pasta if you want to add some carbohydrates.

Buying a BBQ chicken at the supermarket, or roasting your own can give you a number of meals for minimum effort. Chicken tortilla wraps with salad, pick some chicken and pop it into a little water with stock powder, a dash of soy and some fresh ginger, fresh vegetables and some rice noodles for a simple soup. You could also roast a big tray of vegetables such as onions, sweet potato, carrots, tomatoes and spuds for a delicious but simple roast.
Packed full of vegetables and fibre, this soup takes only 15 minutes to prepare and you leave it to cook for an hour while you have a cup of tea and do the crossword. Perfect for freezing in single portions.

Another hearty soup that takes only minutes to toss into the pot and freezes beautifully. Packed full of dense nutrients and fibre and bursting with traditional flavours.
It’s like bacon and eggs but a little bit fancy with some vegetables and spices to give it some punch. It’s takes only 10 minutes on the stove and 10 minutes in the oven and you’ll be dining your way to egg-tastic joy.
These take 10 minutes to prepare, and the joy of them is you can prepare them to the cooking stage and then pop them into the freezer to use as you need them. Fantastic served with a fresh salad or vegetables of your choice for a quick, tasty, minimal fuss meal.
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