Making meals for elderly

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Joined Mar 4, 2007
This winter I started helping an elderly friend by making and delivering dinners for her. She has limited use of her hands so I put complete meal on a plate and and wrap it to be microwaved later. I've been working nights full time so I've been freezing most of the cooked food, then thaw and plate it then deliver 2-3 meals at a time.



Any advice about what foods freeze well and microwave well after thawing? I need some inspiration. So far meats like pot roast, meatloaf, chicken in sauce do well. Pasta works, undercooked vegetables do OK, mashed potatoes sometimes work, sometimes get all grainy. Seafood doesn't seem to work at all.



She has home care helpers who get her dressed and make her breakfast with fresh vegetables and fruit, so I'm not too concerned about that.



Anyway, the complete meal should be able to sit on a plate and then get microwaved.



Any suggestions?



Thanks
 
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Lasagna, Baked Penne, Eggplant Parmigiana freeze well. Most things with breading don't freeze well as in a breaded chicken parmigiana. Chicken Alfredo wold do fine. Cheese and Chicken enchiladas would freeze ok.....Good luck and great job.
 
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I’m in similar situation. For inspiration and menu ideas I sometimes browse the frozen dinners when at the supermarket. Where I struggle is controlling sodium... the factory frozen dinners are sometimes preferred over my home cooked. “Taste better” to the elderly taste buds but that’s because of the ridiculous amount of salt the factory uses.
 
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chefbillyb chefbillyb

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I think I need to expand the pasta variety with different flavor profiles. Maybe a pesto one. I rely on tomato based sauces too much. She likes my moussaka but I think I gave that to her a few too many times. She has asked for seafood enchiladas but I'm afraid to even attempt that. Maybe I should get a microwave so I can experiment at home. High fat sauces with lots of stabilizer seem to do well, I might try the Alfredo. And I love a good ratatouille, maybe I'll try that with some roasted chicken breast.


brianshaw brianshaw

Great idea for browsing the frozen food isle. They've figured it out! I wonder if there are any online classes for frozen meals-for-one test kitchen management:). The sodium issue can be challenging. When I started this she was (and I am) lo-sodium. Her comments were that she wished something had more flavor, but not too spicy. Sigh. But since then her md ok'd her for more sodium, so that's what I do.

And If I make anything too unusual, she lets it sit in the fridge and skips meals. Although one thing surprised me. I made a faux chicken sate with spinach and peanut sauce and she loves it (occasionally). The first time she was reluctant, but the experiment payed off.
 
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We brought dinners to my Father-in-law over the years. As he got older his tastes buds went South. I didn't realize this until he mentioned that he really enjoyed the Nachos we sent over. If you think about it. most meals aren't crazy with a burst of flavor. The Nachos had all kinds of flavor and spice. He may have paid a price later but, he did enjoy the Nachos when we sent them over. Think about how bland Mashed potatoes, meatloaf and peas could be. Take into account they may need a bit of a boost once in awhile.
 
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I've been using beef and chicken bouillon concentrates instead of salt to boost flavor. That seems to help with anything from vegetables to meatloaf and tuna casserole. Hmm.... I've never tried microwave nachos before. I could use low moisture ingredients on the plate and provide a little tub of salsa on the side. I have seen her pick up food with her fingers, so that might work. I'll ask her.
 
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I forgot, She once asked for fajitas and I made a batch. Her only comment was "I thought it would be sweeter".
 
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I bet your moussaka is full of flavor. You can also look at a salad with some grilled chicken that she could put on the top along with whatever dressing.
 
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I forgot, She once asked for fajitas and I made a batch. Her only comment was "I thought it would be sweeter".
Are you the nice person cooking for my mother? Everything you say is what my mother says to me. Assuming that it would go over like a lead balloon I made sweet-and-sour chicken... in a style that I hoped she would eat. I thought it was dreadful but she asked for more. Aside the “old favorites “ it’s quite a guessing game.
 
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Ok, back again. This time it was roast chicken breast with tarragon cream sauce and stuffed mushrooms. Plus I thawed the last of the moussaka. I was pushing green salads a couple of months ago until she had an incident. Apparently one morning she had such painful gas she couldn't get out of bed and called EMTs. Since then she requested no more salads.

I took a chance and made chicken curry a la Mom 1970. Curry gravy, peas and carrots with coconut, raisins and peanuts on the side. She loved it. I get the idea that her taste in "foreign food" was formed 40-50 years ago.
 
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Im laughing... with you, not at you. Been there too. If it’s not gas it’s constipation. Our elders sedate lifestyle can cause all sorts of digestive issues. I try to get my mom to exercise... walk in the neighborhood. But she either walks 10 feet and turns around or goes on a 1/2 mile walk. Despite encouraging moderation it’s always the extreme and resulting frustration.

Hang in there...
 
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I'm still laughing at these things. Although some days it's easier than others.

OK, a year ago if you'd asked me about making sweet and sour chicken, my response would be "Surely you jest!". Now I'm thinking about it. So, what makes a "good" sweet and sour? I have distant memories of huge hunks of hot pineapple in a cornstarch pool. I might have to use that.
 
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I would start by asking her what her favorite foods are and trying to adapt those. For the population I work with salt is the first taste to degrade and sweet the last so getting creative with seasonings without boosting sodium levels to high levels is a challenge. I have used Mrs. Dash styled seasonings in the past and they are sodium free.
 
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Seoul Food Seoul Food

My main concern is what freezes well and microwaves well. I have probably 20+ meals she likes. I think I'm the one getting bored with making the same things.

What drove me to ask here was a batch of salmon cakes I made (wild salmon and mashed potato). They tasted great when I first made them. I froze them and later thawed some to deliver to her. I was hungry and ate one cold and was horrified by the texture, like fish flavored sand. I didn't give her the salmon cakes and later tried reheating one to test it, and the texture was fine. I should have known better (thawed cold potatoes).

I realized that I know very little about how freezing and reheating cooked foods affect quality. Right now making batches and freezing is the only way I can avoid going nuts... cooking, delivering and then going to my night shift.
 
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I do agree with looking in the freezer section to see whats available. Another thing I learned while working in a Hospital many years ago. I learned portion size can be overwhelming. It's better for the people to see smaller amounts so they can see something they can enjoy and finish.
 
706
261
Joined Sep 17, 2018
Seoul Food Seoul Food

My main concern is what freezes well and microwaves well. I have probably 20+ meals she likes. I think I'm the one getting bored with making the same things.

What drove me to ask here was a batch of salmon cakes I made (wild salmon and mashed potato). They tasted great when I first made them. I froze them and later thawed some to deliver to her. I was hungry and ate one cold and was horrified by the texture, like fish flavored sand. I didn't give her the salmon cakes and later tried reheating one to test it, and the texture was fine. I should have known better (thawed cold potatoes).

I realized that I know very little about how freezing and reheating cooked foods affect quality. Right now making batches and freezing is the only way I can avoid going nuts... cooking, delivering and then going to my night shift.
I've honestly never heard of mashed potatoes in a salmon cake. We always made them like crab cakes with a panko or bread crumb. You are also limited because it sounds like microwaving is your only reheating capability. If you were able to use something like a crockpot or even the oven it would broader what you were able to produce and reheat without compromising the texture.
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2007
portion size can be overwhelming. It's better for the people to see smaller amounts so they can see something they can enjoy and finish.
Yes, I've cut down portions after seeing plates with 3 bites left.



I've honestly never heard of mashed potatoes in a salmon cake.
European thing? Very moist neutral flavor that showcases the fish.


If you were able to use something like a crockpot or even the oven it would broader what you were able to produce and reheat without compromising the texture.
She's 95, uses a walker and has limited use of hands. I just drop off the plates and she reheats them. She has used the oven to reheat some things, but that scares me, I've found her asleep at the table.
 

nicko

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Great ideas here I think braises always are the best route. They taste better the next day and always re-heat well.
 
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Seoul Food Seoul Food nicko nicko

Ooops, I misinterpreted that. Yes, I've done lamb stew, braised pork and apples, a spanish pork stew. A few things like that. Some hits, some misses. Her taste if food is just a little more basic than mine.
 

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