Tips for Cooking for Yourself

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​As people age, lose their spouse, or no longer have others to cook for, they may cook less due to low motivation, loneliness, depression, low energy levels, physical disabilities, lack of knowledge of how to shop and prepare for only 1 or 2 people, or just get tired of cooking. Here are some tips to help you and keep you motivated.

Continuing to prepare healthy meals and snacks is important to maintain energy so we can continue as a vibrant friend and family member and to pursue activities that maintain a high quality of life. Good nutrition is also important to prevent and manage chronic disease and to maintain immunity to combat colds, flu and other viruses.

Planning is important to ensure your diet includes all the food groups. Take time to create menus for the week, incorporating leftovers and foods that might spoil if not used up. Many cookbooks are available with recipes for a few servings, or cut your old favorites in half. Here are some additional strategies for cooking for a few:

1. Cook once, eat twice. Use leftovers in a different form for another meal, e.g., roast chicken one night, chicken salad later.

2. Add leftovers to soup or stew. Keep a container in the freezer to accumulate if needed.

3. Extra pancakes or French toast can be saved to warm up in microwave or toaster.

4. Buy frozen bagged vegetables, fruits and meal mixes. Remove exactly how much you need at one time.

5. Get needed amounts of fresh prepped fruits or vegetables at the salad bar in your market.

6. Share extra produce with friends or family (broccoli, head of celery, grapes).

7. Divide packages of raw meat like chicken or ground beef and freeze in individual portions for later use.

8. Freeze extra bread or baked goods.

9. When buying produce, get one ripe, one medium ripe and one green.

10. Buy produce that will keep well for longer periods under refrigeration, such as apples, cabbage, sweet potatoes, oranges and carrots.

11. Dehydrated spices and seasonings can replace fresh and won't spoil before being used.

12. Dairy choices that have a longer shelf life include wrapped cheese slices, Parmesan cheese, canned or dried milk, and yogurt.

13. Keep it simple—there are lots of ideas for easy to prepare nutritious meals and snacks. For example—peanut butter and banana or raisin sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk, or cheese and whole grain crackers with a piece of fruit and low-sodium tomato juice.

14.  Have something easy handy for days you don't feel up to food preparation. Frozen TV dinners with sodium less than 800 mg. and fat less than 15 grams with canned fruit and whole grain bread could be used.

15. When eating out and portions are large, bring half home for an easy meal the following day (make sure you refrigerate within 2 hours).​

Nutrition is important for our seniors. If you suspect that a loved one is not receiving the proper diet and worried about them livign at home, call Home Instead of Lehigh County to learn more about non-medical home care at 610-770-​7773.

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