This Care Team article is on shopping and meal prep. If you haven’t read Assemble a Care Team (General)) start there first.
As I’ve mentioned in previous care team articles, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses is where you need to start when getting help. In the earlier stages of the disease, it’s not impossible to handle more household tasks than you did before. However, it’s imperative to keep in mind that a well-organized life can come apart in an instant. Alzheimer’s can cause changes overnight then level off again. It’s important to be prepared for those challenging times.
With that in mind, this article looks at grocery shopping, food prep, and the various options you should consider.
If you aren’t a good cook or don’t like to cook there are many options available to you. One simple yet creative plan is to eat meals out on a daily basis. One gentleman I know did this for years and the reasoning was two-fold.
First, he and his wife live in a small town and would frequent the same restaurants. This allowed the staff to become familiar with them and their situation. As a result, it was not unusual for their preferred drinks to arrive almost simultaneously as they sat down at the table.
Kate would recognize the friendly faces even if she couldn’t remember their names. In fact, one of the main reasons for dining out twice a day was to give Kate mental stimulation. Additionally, a change of pace from being home was helpful as well.
When I asked Richard about the expense and calorie count of eating in restaurants daily he explained that they frequently shared a meal. Understandably, this kept costs and calories to a minimum. The benefits of giving him more time to focus on her and the stimulation she got from the outing were priceless. Leftovers were a blessing on days their favorite restaurant was closed or on days they just wanted to stay home.
This became abundantly clear when the Covid-19 virus caused shutdowns and Richard had to start preparing meals himself. The time required was a problem because Kate is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and needed a lot more personal attention. The lack of stimulation was problematic as well.
Grocery Delivery Services
Shopping with a family member with Alzheimer’s can be challenging. Grocery stores in general, they’re huge and filled with lots of stuff. If you have a brain that takes longer to process the input from your environment, a store filled with stuff could be overwhelming.
However, you have to eat. Most larger grocery chains have delivery (especially since the Covid-19 crisis). Take advantage of this service. In order to make sure you’re getting what everyone wants, doing the orders together can be a bonus. When the groceries are delivered, make it a team effort to put them away. Allowing independence for as long as possible goes a long way in keeping your family member happy.
Slow Cookers & Sheet Pan Recipes
For those who don’t like to cook there are still other options. Slow cookers can be a blessing. You fill and forget and with the right recipes, you’ll have enough for several meals. This is also a task that a family member or friend can help with. My sister assembled, froze, and delivered packages that merely had to be dumped into the slow cooker. This gave our Dad healthy meals with virtually no effort.
Additionally, the bonus of using a slow cooker is safety. If you’re not using the stove, you have fewer kitchen hazards to worry about. Another idea is sheet pan meals. These are meals that are cooked on one sheet in the oven. There’s not a lot of prep and very little cleanup.
If you don’t have a child or other family member close by who can do all this prep work for you I have another idea! Partner up with someone who is single or in a similar situation. You can work together and prep once a week. That’s what I’s suggest because the companionship is good for both of you. On the other hand, you could each prep a meal or two, then separate it into two freezer bags and share.
If you’re a “basic” sandwich kind of chef consider getting a panini press. A hot sandwich and some soup make great lunches and simple dinners. (By the way, soup is super easy to make in a slow cooker. Check out our recipe section for simple, filling soups.)
Meal Subscription Services
Comparatively, maybe your loved one is able and wants to help in meal prep but unable to follow a recipe. This might be a good situation to take advantage of the many meal subscription services. There are options for every type of eater out there.
Most meal subscriptions are available in either 2 or 4 servings. Having the larger serving size delivered would cut down on prep time and give you leftovers to use another day. Honestly, I’m wondering why I didn’t think of that when my husband & I used one of these services!
For those of you who would prefer healthy, gourmet meals, there are a couple of options for you as well. One I learned of recently is Factor_. They even have breakfast options. Dinnerly is another heat and serve meal service and is the most economical option I’ve found.
There are so many options that unhealthy eating simply isn’t acceptable. If you’re like me and you like variety, you can mix and match these ideas to suit your needs, tastes, budget, and lifestyle.
Try eating out for a couple of meals a week and bring home a doggie bag. Sorry doggies, these are for the humans. That gives you 2-4 meals. One good slow cooker meal can be 4 more meals. That could cover all your dinners for the week. Add in some pre-made meals from the subscription service, soups for lunch and you’ll be eating like kings!
If you’re a breakfast eater this might be the one meal you learn to make well on your own. There are as many ideas as there are days you’ll want breakfast. How about pancakes? You can make a batch on a quieter morning and have extras for another day in the week.
That panini press I suggested? That can be used to make some tasty breakfast sandwiches. Oatmeal can be cooked overnight in the slow cooker. There are even overnight oats you put in the fridge. You could warm them up or eat them cold on a hot morning.
Breakfast casseroles don’t have to be for brunch gatherings. Make a big one once a week, serve with a variety of fruit throughout the week and your mornings are yours again. Quiches are good too. If you prefer a quiche with a crust, pre-made pie crusts are perfectly acceptable. This is an endorsement from the queen of homemade!
Over in our recipe section is the crustless quiche recipe we eat weekly. If you don’t eat the leftovers for breakfast they make a nice simple dinner paired with a salad and some fruit.
If you can’t tell, I enjoy eating and cooking (in that order) so watch this website for more ideas on healthy eating. My personal preference is really yummy meals without too much fuss so that’s what you’ll find here.
Until then, Bon appetite!