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7 quick and easy meals to cook for older people

25th September 2018

It’s common for people to worry about whether parents or grandparents are eating properly and are maintaining a balanced diet. The concerns are valid as appetites decrease for older adults as they become less physically active, even though older people still need a lot of nutrition in their diets.

This is especially true for older adults with mobility issues, such as those who must use new stairlifts around the home.

One of the many reasons why older people might not be getting enough nutrition in their diets or are failing to eat filling meals is because cooking a big meal is demanding, particularly for people who struggle to get around the home without mobility aids.

To help, this guide looks at seven quick and easy meals to make that contain the important nutrients needed for older adults.

1. Coconut & pineapple smoothie


  • 250g (half a pot) plain coconut yoghurt (now widely available in supermarkets)
  • 200mls Alpro Wholebean Unsweetened Soya milk
  • 2 tablespoons Milled mixed seeds e.g. Flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin & sunflower seeds (e.g. Crownfields or Linwoods)
  • 2 teaspoons raw virgin coconut oil
  • 110g tinned (or fresh) in natural juice pineapple or mandarins (drained)
  • Half a small banana (optional to add sweetness)

A great option for breakfast would be the coconut and pineapple smoothie recommended by Penny Crowther, a nutritional therapist who runs the Nutritionist London site. She talks about the great benefits of the different ingredients:

“Coconut oil/yoghurt - The fat in coconut is saturated but contrary to past opinions, research is starting to show it might be good for you because it is in the form of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Coconut is particularly high in one of these fats (lauric acid), which is highly beneficial. Lauric acid is converted by the body into monolaurin, which has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. Another advantage of coconut is that it provides a good carbohydrate source but without provoking insulin spikes in the blood. 

“Coconut yoghurt/soya milk is fortified with calcium to support bone health and is a great source of protein. Milled seeds contain essential fats beneficial for helping maintain healthy brain and nervous system function. They’re a great source of protein. Fruit contains antioxidants for supporting healthy ageing. The smoothie is easy to drink, no chewing required!”

Penny adds that it is important to choose your soya milk carefully, “It (soya milk) should say that it is made from whole beans otherwise it may be highly processed. As whole soya is healthy whereas processed soya isn’t.

“Simply blitz all the ingredients in a Nutri Bullet or similar processor, until smooth – approx. 15 seconds (it should be smooth but blended for the shortest time possible in order to avoid heat build-up).

“For variety, swap out the milled seeds for a tablespoon of ground almonds which are a good source of calcium and protein and use frozen berries instead of pineapple or mandarins. You can also add a scoop of rice protein powder (from health food shops or online) to boost the protein further.”

2. Porridge


  • 50g porridge oats
  • 350ml milk or water
  • Greek yoghurt thinned with a little milk and clear honey or some strawberries and raspberries (optional)

Another potential breakfast meal is porridge, and nothing beats it for ease of preparation in the morning. It will also give older adults an energy boost that will last most of the day.

During the winter months, porridge will help warm you up, but it is great to eat no matter what time of year it is. Preparing porridge will take only 5-10 minutes and if you’re looking to liven your porridge up, add Greek yoghurt, honey, or strawberries and raspberries.

3. Stir-fry with lentils


  • Lentils
  • Tinned mixed beans
  • Lean pork
  • Curly Kale
  • Sugar snaps
  • Noodles (or boil in the bag potatoes)
  • 2-3 tbsp of any stir-fry sauce

A stir fry is not only easy to make, but it can be packed full of nutrients and healthy ingredients. Andrew Gee, who runs The Health Therapist site, believes a stir fry with lentils is a great go-to meal for older people to try.

“Older people are often deficient in protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin c. A go-to meal would be a simple stir fry with lentils, tinned mixed beans and lean pork (chopped) with, curly kale, sugar snaps and noodles or boil in the bag potatoes, and 2-3 tbsp of any stir-fry sauce. It’s something easy to cook with minimum skill, and you just need to boil the potatoes/noodles then throw in the ingredients into an oiled stir-fry dish. This is more of a lunch type thing (a handful of noodles cooked, palm-full of mixed beans and another of diced pork and veg), and is rich in iron, protein, vitamin c and zinc. For an added boost of zinc, add grated almonds.”

4. Omelette


  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp butter

Taking just 5-minutes to cook, a basic omelette is another quick and easy meal that older people can enjoy. What makes omelettes a great meal option for older people is the fact you can add a variety of fillings.

Inside your omelette, you can have grated cheese, ham, fresh herbs, mushrooms, smoked salmon etc. The options are endless.

The humble egg has a lot of health credentials as the white and egg yolk both are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. Eggs are known to promote heart health, reduce the likelihood of strokes, and help protect bones because of its Vitamin D.

5. Quinoa salad


  • 80g cup uncooked quinoa (I use a mixture of white and red)
  • 16 halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 chopped sticks of celery
  • Half a cucumber (diced)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander
  • Half a red onion
  • 50g/1.5oz feta cheese
  • Half an avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp sumac

Quinoa may not be well-known, but the grain is from the spinach family and is now regarded as a superfood, making it a popular ingredient in a lot of recipes.

Dannii from the Hungry Healthy Happy food, wellbeing and lifestyle blog, says Quinoa salad is a quick and easy meal older adults can make.

“It (Quinoa) is high in protein and delicious. It has an almost nutty texture and taste and it takes on the flavour of herbs and spices really well.”

6. Baked or grilled salmon steak


  • 4 skin-on salmon portions, about 1-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges

Although this dish is a summertime favourite amongst foodies, it can be eaten all year round. What makes it a perfect meal for older people is that it is easy to make with an estimated cooking time of just 8-15 minutes. The dish is light and healthy and offers older people the perfect option for a quick dinner.

There are so many health benefits to salmon such as being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, packed-full of proteins, high in Vitamin B and is a great source of potassium. Health experts say that eating salmon as part of your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and may help you control your weight.

7. Chicken Fajita Soup


  • 1-pound chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 peppers (chopped)
  • 1 red onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 15 ounces of canned black beans
  • 15 ounces of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 fajita seasoning packet
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (optional)

This Mexican-inspired soup can be whipped up in a flash and is certainly tasty. It has all the flavours of the popular chicken fajitas and is low in fat and carbs as well as being a gluten-free option.

Sommer, a mum, travel enthusiast and self-confessed cookery queen, runs the A Spicy Perspective blog and she highly recommends the dish.

“Today’s Skinny Chicken Fajita Soup Recipe is a meal you can enjoy all through the winter months, even when you are watching your diet.

“This skinny soup is low fat, gluten free, and it only has good carbs from black beans and brown rice. However, if you want to make a low carb option, just take out the rice.”

Other quick and easy meals older people can enjoy

There are lots of other quick and easy meals for older people and here we list the seven meals we’ve listed above as well as some other options:

  • Coconut & pineapple smoothie
  • Porridge
  • Stir fry with lentils
  • Omelette
  • Quinoa salad
  • Baked or grilled salmon steak
  • Chicken fajita soup
  • Greek salad
  • Potato and leek soup
  • Pancakes or waffles with fresh berries
  • Shrimp and pasta
  • Spinach pie
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Eggplant stir fry
  • One-Pan Sautee

To take your cooking an extra step further, take a look at this guide to the best cookbooks for older people.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.