AlzU Blog

Cooking at Home: Time Saving Strategies for Alzheimer's Caregivers

If you or a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are attempting to eat a healthy AD prevention diet, you probably already know that in general, cooking at home is healthier than eating out.

Cooking at home usually results in healthier foods with less calories than eating at a sit down or fast food restaurant.  But, finding the time to prepare home cooked meals every day, in addition to all of your other caregiving tasks, may be a real challenge. 

Here are some tips aimed at helping caregivers and those in the early stages of AD save time while planning and making healthy home cooked meals. 

1. Create a weekly plan.  When you plan a menu in advance, you can allow for cooking once and eating twice (or even 3 times in some instances).  For example, make broiled salmon and eat the salmon on day 1 as the main entree, then save the left over to top of a salad for dinner the following day.  You can also use the leftover salmon to include in a healthy salmon egg frittata for breakfast.
2. Use leftovers for lunch.  Create more variety in your menu by using some of the leftover ingredients from the day before to create an entirely different meal.  For example, if you make quinoa with chicken for dinner, use the left over to top a vegetable salad.  Another idea is to use a leftover chicken dish to make a Caesar wrap for lunch the next day.

3. Combine your work.  When chopping up vegetables for one meal, consider doing all of the prep work for the entire week, all at once.  Then you can store chopped vegetables in the refrigerator for quick access when you are ready to cook with them. 

4. Cook foods for seasoning in advance for the entire week.  Some of the primary staples used in the kitchen include, onions, peppers and garlic.  Try roasting these vegetables together, after drizzling with some olive oil.  Next, store the roasted vegetables in the refrigerator, ready to season many of the dishes you make,  or add them as a tasty topping on a salad.

5. Prepare extra portions and freeze the leftovers for quick access to homemade foods you can quickly heat up in the oven.  For the best results, wrap left over food in foil before freezing and bake in the oven at 425 degrees F.  You can do this for pizzas (making all of the dough in advance), casseroles, soups and more.

6. When freezing foods, remember to label and date each dish.  For maximum freshness, avoid leaving frozen pre-cooked food in the freezer any longer than 90 days.

7. Enlist the help of friends and family whenever possible.  If your family members are willing to help, make out a schedule and assign each person to take one day of the week to make a healthy dish to drop off for you and your loved one.  Delegating is vital to avoiding caregiver burn out.

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