Tips for food preparation

Tips for healthy food options and time saving habits to avoid being overwhelmed.

Food and eating

Whether you love to cook or not, making sure [the person you care for] has healthy food options they will actually eat is a lot of work. Get some time back and build these time saving habits into your routine. It’s all part of supporting yourself as you care for someone. You can make healthy food AND have some time to relax. And avoid overwhelm by starting small and simple.

Here’s how:

  • Make a Meal Plan: Make a weekly plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and healthy snacks before you go to the grocery store. Start with dishes [the person you care for] loves and build from there. Include them in the planning if possible. Choose 1 or 2 days to batch cook a few things (roasted veggies and chicken reheats really well and is an easy way to see if meal prep works well for your situation). Leave instructions for reheating for each dish that you prepare.
  • Freeze as you cook or make a few meals all at once: Making meatballs for spaghetti tonight? Make a double batch, freeze half, and then reheat for sandwiches, soups, or fettuccine. Freezing works especially well for meats, soups, stews, and baked dishes like enchiladas. Mark each item with the date it was cooked and reheating instructions. Make a list of frozen items and post on the fridge so you don't forget to use them in your weekly meal plan.
  • Safe reheating and storage: Put your foods in smaller storage containers to cool quickly to avoid bacterial growth and make sure they’re airtight. If you’re not freezing the dish, it  can stay in the fridge for 3-4 days. You don’t need to thaw everything you freeze, but if you are, do so in the fridge, microwave or under cold water. Use a food thermometer to check that all reheated foods reach 165 degrees. 
  • Cooking can be relaxing and meditative. If you enjoy cooking, plan your meals and cooking schedule so that you have that time to yourself. If cooking isn’t relaxing for you, try a meal delivery service like Meals on Wheels or ask for support from family or friends to prepare food for the person you care for.

    If cooking isn’t an option in your situation, may be able to have meals delivered by an organization like Meals on Wheels in your area.

USDA - Leftovers and Food Safety

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