Cooking Tips for Caregivers

couple cooking together

Maintaining good nutrition habits is tough for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult for a caregiver.

Your loved one might be on a special diet or only have an appetite for certain things. There may be other family members to feed as well. And the time and energy you have available are limited. But you should still strive to eat well, because good nutrition is a habit that’s worth cultivating every day.

Begin at the grocery store. Learn to read labels. Start buying foods that benefit your body and mind, and leave the junk food behind. Choose vegetables, fruits and whole grains. They are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They’re also often low in calories.

Eating a variety of healthy foods may help you control your weight and reduce your risk for heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Use these tips to inspire healthy habits in the kitchen:

  • Prepare a quick meal by steaming or stir-frying vegetables. Look for “low-sodium” canned veggies or try frozen varieties. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label of similar products, such as different brands of tomato sauce. Then choose the ones with less sodium. If you buy canned vegetables, rinse them under cold water before cooking to reduce the sodium.
  • Use herbs, vinegar, tomatoes, onions and non-tropical vegetable oils instead of salt or high-sodium seasonings, especially if you have high blood pressure. Use lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies to add extra flavor.
  • Use your time — and your freezer — wisely. When you find time to cook, think about preparing enough food for several meals. Freeze those extra dishes so meal prep is a snap the next time you’re too tired to cook.
  • Throw a peeled banana into your blender along with frozen berries, kiwi or whatever fruit you have handy. Then add fat-free milk or water, some unsweetened fat-free or low-fat yogurt, and blend. You’ll have a cool, refreshing and healthy treat. A smoothie can be a quick and delicious way to get more fruit in your diet.
  • Prepare muffins and quick breads with less saturated fat and fewer calories. Try swapping the oil for applesauce in your favorite recipe.
  • Choose whole-grain ingredients instead of highly refined products. Use whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and whole cornmeal.
  • Aim for recipes that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, skinless poultry, fish, lean meats, legumes and nuts when making your meal plan for the week.
  • Keep chopped fruit and veggies in the refrigerator for a quick snack. Looking for something savory? Grab some unsalted nuts. Craving something sweet? Keep some unsweetened, low-fat yogurt on hand. With some planning, you’ll be prepared when hunger strikes.