Top Meal Services for Seniors & Caregivers: Healthy and Convenient Dining Options

Article Summary

This article discusses the value of meal services for seniors and their caregivers, and the different types of meal services available.

Key takeaways:

  1. Malnutrition can have a negative impact on seniors' health, including their immune system, strength, mobility, posture, thinking, memory, and other brain functions.
  2. Different types of meal services offer different benefits, such as mail-order meal kits, mail-order heat-and-eat meals, and Meals on Wheels programs.
  3. Meal services can be expensive, but there are options available for those on a budget, such as Magic Kitchen, Silver Cuisine, Mom's Meals, and Homestyle Direct.

The Value of Meal Services for Seniors and their Caregivers

If your loved one has trouble cooking, meal services can be a source of regular, healthy meals, enabling them to live and function at their best. When older adults don’t eat properly it can result in malnutrition and affect all areas of their health.

Malnutrition can:

  • Impact the immune system, leaving them more prone to illness.
  • Affect strength, mobility, and posture leading to a higher risk of falls.
  • Impair thinking, memory, and other brain functions.

Different types of meal services offer different benefits.

Mail-order meal kits can save you or your loved one time and energy as you cook healthy, appetizing meals using pre-portioned and prepped ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes.

Mail-order heat-and-eat meals can enable seniors who have trouble cooking to easily warm and eat healthy meals.

Meals on Wheels programs offer two options: in-person congregate eating at community centers and home delivery for those who qualify.

  • Those who eat at senior centers enjoy affordable meals, a reason to get out of the house, and the companionship of peers.
  • Those who receive daily home delivery often feel less isolated due to their relationship with their delivery driver. The delivery also doubles as a safety check – if the driver notices something amiss they can call 9-1-1 or the senior’s family.

How Much Do Meal Services Cost?

Most mail-order meal delivery services are priced in the neighborhood of $7.00 - $12.00+ per serving. There are often additional shipping charges, which can sometimes be reduced by ordering larger quantities at once.

Older adults receiving Medicaid may qualify for free meals from certain meal services.

Meals on Wheels programs operate on a sliding scale, providing meals on a sliding scale, from free to full price.

How Do I Find the Right Meal Service for my Loved One?

There’s a wide variety of meal services available – the best fit for you depends on what you need.

Cook at Home Meal Kits

Meal Kit services are perfect for people who enjoy cooking or eating freshly prepared meals but don’t have the time, dexterity, or stamina to prep all of their own ingredients – but you’ll still have to wash dishes unless you hire a caregiver for that.

Hello Fresh - weekly kits with a large variety of recipes, including low-carb, low-calorie, and vegetarian options. Starts at $7.99 per serving.

Blue Apron - offers nutritious, unique, varied ingredients and recipes and the opportunity to learn new cooking techniques. Starts at $7.49 per serving.

Heat and Eat Meal Services

You can’t beat the convenience of heat and eat meals, although the food really can’t compare with the quality of freshly prepared meals. There’s virtually no prep or clean-up required, so these can be a good choice for seniors with limited energy or interest in cooking.

Freshly - Single-serving portions arrive refrigerated, fresher than their frozen competitors. 30+ nutritious meals to choose from. They’re all gluten and peanut free, with low-carb and low-dairy options available. Starts at $8.49 per meal.

Territory - Twice weekly delivery of fresh, single-serving meals, cooked by chefs in your community (in participating areas). Excellent food quality and variety. Dietician-developed meal plans for a range of dietary restrictions. Starts at $13.95 per meal.

Diets for Older Adults

These heat-and-eat meal service plans were designed especially with older adults in mind.

Magic Kitchen - Meals are reviewed by dieticians and accommodate common diets, including low-sodium, low-carb, diabetic, dialysis, and vegetarian. Breakfast lunch and dinner options are available. Starts at $11.70 per serving.

Silver Cuisine - Large variety of meals and snacks, with heart-healthy, gluten-free, diabetic, low-carb, low-sodium, dairy-free, Mediterranean, and pescatarian options available. Starts at $5.49 for breakfast and $7.99 for lunch and dinner.

For Budget-Conscious Seniors

These heat-and-eat meal services feature dietician-approved recipes for older adults with a variety of dietary restrictions. They’re priced economically and work with Medicaid to cover costs for those who qualify.

Mom’s Meals - Features diets appropriate for diabetes, cancer, swallowing difficulties, kidney disease, and more. Starts at $6.99 per meal, with the potential for Medicaid or Medicare Advantage plans to cover costs.

Homestyle Direct - Diet options include low-calorie, low-fat, carb-controlled, low-gluten, low-sodium, and renal diets. Starts at $6.95 per serving, with an option to pay through Medicaid.

Meals on Wheels

Those who can travel to senior centers to eat together with others are encouraged to do so, but those who have difficulty traveling may qualify for home delivery. Learn more, or find a program in your community, at the Meals on Wheels website. There are programs available in most areas, but some have long waitlists due to high demand.

Other Local Resources

Check with your local Area Agency on Aging or read more about how family caregivers can find local resources and assistance to find other meal services or related resources in your community.

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