Healthy Food and Meal Delivery Ideas for Seniors Who Don't Cook

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Now It's Easy to Help Aging Parents Who Can't Drive Get Food They Need

Aging gracefully and independently in the city
Thanks to growing food delivery services and healthy food options, seniors living alone can stay healthy with a little help from their kids. Susie Wyshak

If you need to help making sure your parents or grandparents eat well at home, or you're a senior caregiver, you're in luck. 

Many of the same services created to give Millennials convenient eating options are turning out to be really helpful for senior citizens who also need convenient, healthful foods. 

When You're Suddenly Caring for Your Parents...

Millions of children of aging parents are stressed out, feeling guilty, wondering how to keep Mom and Dad healthy and living independently. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's/dementia can mean the DMV will take away a patient's driver's license. 

Cooking may suddenly become a big challenge. Maybe they aren't allowed to cook or maybe you can't due to physical impairments. Meals on Wheels isn't an option for everyone.

Here are a few ideas that can really work...

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Stock Up on 17 Good, Cheap Foods From Trader Joe's

Grocery bag of food from Trader Joe's
Healthy ready to eat food is so easy to stock up on these days. Susie Wyshak

Healthy Staple Foods We Buy at Trader Joe's

When shopping, think of how different staple foods can be combined into meals or snacks. All the better if you can involve your parents or clients in the shopping process, to figure out the best staples that will fit with their tastes, diet and eating habits.

Trader Joe's keeps a list of foods that are gluten-free, Kosher and vegan to simplify your shopping!

These foods tend to be crowd-pleasers among the seniors I shop for, who luckily tend to be foodies and healthy eaters.

  1. Boxed, shelf-stable soups, especially the low-sodium Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup (which you can find in single-serve packages, at regular grocery stores). The great thing about this soup is it's easy to add chicken or other veges to make a soup that's more interesting and nutritionally balanced as a meal.
  2. Fresh salads
  3. Spinach yogurt dip and / or hummus
  4. Pretzel sticks
  5. Almonds and cashews, in single-serve packets (which prevent over-eating!)
  6. Dried fruits
  7. Dark chocolate
  8. Green juice (Better yet, buy this leafy green-filled superfood smoothie at a supermarket or Costco, at only about $6 per half gallon. The refrigerated shelf-life is several weeks/months and it packs in lots of nutrients.)
  9. Sliced chicken (deli meat)
  10. Sliced cheese
  11. Low-fat string cheese (nice because it's packed in singles)
  12. Fresh goat cheese 3-pack ($4.99)
  13. Crackers or pumpernickel bread
  14. Baby carrots
  15. Fresh string beans (if available) — Great for dipping
  16. Canned salmon, tuna and other shelf-stable proteins
  17. Small bottled waters (in case of emergency)

Bargain bite: The ginger cookies in tubs are one of Trader Joe's most popular foods. You get a lot for the price, which is nice for ginger lovers!

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Look Into Healthy, Fresh Meal Delivery Services

Munchery ready to heat and eat meals
Just a few of the daily restaurant quality meals Munchery cooks up. Munchery

While Meals on Wheels serves qualified, low-income people with meals, some areas deliver only frozen meals. They may not want to deliver frozen meals to people who have dementia, for safety reasons.

Luckily, there are many fresh meal alternatives. Here are a few:

Munchery Delivers Fresh Meals at a Reasonable Price

In several major cities across the U.S., Munchery centralizes making a huge number of the same chef-designed meals each day, using fresh, local ingredients. This model — versus a restaurant, which makes lots of diverse meals — allows Munchery to price their ready-to-heat and eat meals at great prices, similar to many fast-casual restaurants. For example a Jerk Chicken Bowl is $9.

Munchery kicked off serving San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. My mom loves it!

Tips: They usually offer a coupon to get you started at low risk. You can schedule delivery within a specific hour. Hot meals need to be re-heated usually, and come in a heatable container.

Meal Delivery Services Made for Seniors Abound

Check the local area for services freshly made specifically for senior citizens. The meals can get pricey, but there are lots of plan options for every budget.

Here are just a few examples:

  • In Southern California, Martha's Senior Gourmet makes and delivers meals with senior citizens in mind. They also have meals tailored to specific dietary restrictions.
  • Nationwide, Mom's Meals is on a mission to help seniors live independently.
  • To find meals in the local area search something like:  healthy fresh meal delivery  (then add the city or zip code). Add any search terms related to dietary restrictions.

More healthy meal delivery companies pop up all the time. 

Meal Delivery From Local Restaurants Is Another Option

If you're lucky enough to have affordable restaurants making healthy meals nearby, there's always the time-honored option of restaurant delivery using a restaurant's own service or tapping into online/mobile restaurant ordering services like GrubHub.

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Get Groceries Delivered From Local Supermarkets With Instacart or Amazon

Amazon delivers fresh and shelf stable groceries
Deliver groceries to senior citizens at the click of a smartphone or mouse. Amazon.com

For decades, small grocery stores have delivered food. Our desire for time-saving conveniences has led to more and more supermarkets preparing ready-to-eat, tasty meals — and lining up delivery options for every schedule and in many neighborhoods.

Grocery Delivery From Your Favorite Stores

Instacart is a really great option for quick grocery deliveries from nearby supermarkets and Costco (but, for now, not Trader Joe's). Personal shoppers pick out what you choose and pay for online.

Instacart sometimes marks up prices, but sometimes they don't. Even so, if you don't live near your parents and they need groceries, it is a small price to pay for everyone's peace of mind.

You don't need a smartphone to order from Instacart, and you can give them directions about how/when to deliver.

Groceries From Amazon

Amazon has kicked off AmazonFresh, its grocery delivery service in major metropolitan areas. As of now, there's an annual fee. So you'll want to be sure you're committed before you "invest." 

Lots of great pantry staples on Amazon: You can find some great bargains on cartons of granola bars, cereal and other shelf-stable staples. You can also set up a recurring order subscription...if you know your loved one or client wants certain favorites, ongoing.

Many food producers report Amazon being their bread and butter, sales-wise.

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Deliver Your Parents to the Grocery Store With Uber and Lyft

Safeway sale addresses the 15% decline of traditional supermarkets
Safeway sale addresses how Specialty grocers such as Trader Joes might replace traditional supermarkets. Denver Post

For many people, grocery shopping is a huge joy in life. So, when someone stops driving, is it the end of grocery store trips?

Maybe not! Across the country, the ride-sharing movement opens up options to get around with the help of strangers. Despite the horror stories that make it into the media, my family has been using these services for more than a year with no problems.

3 Ways Uber and Lyft Cars Can Help Your Parents

You and your parents might be surprised about how interesting their lives can become once they can no longer drive, if you start getting them around with Uber and Lyft cars (Those links give you a free credit to try them out.)

Disclaimer: This is only for people who can get around safely alone.

  • Uber and Lyft cars drivers are generally social and enjoy chatting with passengers. Your parents can tell their stories. Over and over.
  • You can see exactly where the car is driving — unlike when your parents were driving their own cars around.
  • Shopping becomes an engaging, game-like adventure, looking for different cars, having to remember different drivers' names. You will be more in touch with your parents...maybe more than ever.

So you can see, a world of food options is available to help your aging parents and help give you peace of mind that, even if you are far away, you can help them live a good life.

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Don't Discount Food From 99 Cents Only and Dollar Stores

organic produce at the 99 Cents Only store
You might not expect farm fresh ideas at the 99 Cents Only store? Then again... Susie Wyshak

If you haven't gone bargain hunting lately at 99 Cents Only store, Dollar Store, Grocery Outlet or other regional discount grocery chains, you might not know just how much food, sometimes organic, these stores sell.

While the produce may not be the freshest, these stores tend to locate in areas that may not be near supermarkets.

Bargain bite: At the 99 Cents store in Los Angeles, my family loves the $.99 bags of bagels from an old-time local bagel factory.