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March 28, 2023

Cooking for Grandma: What’s on the Nursing Home Menu?

By: Country Meadows | Dining

When you think about a nursing home menu, flavor is not a word that comes to mind. However, today’s nursing home menu features savory yet healthy choices for almost every taste.

The nursing home menu is designed to offer a nutritionally balanced, varied selection of meal choices that meet the needs of older adults. Seniors living with swallowing issues or digestive challenges can request dishes that are easy to chew and swallow.

Senior living communities like Country Meadows offer restaurant-style dining service allowing residents to choose from a menu of that day’s available selections. In addition to enjoying delicious food, this experience provides residents with opportunities to interact with others, encouraging socialization while alleviating loneliness and boredom.

The dining program and experience at Country Meadows Retirement Communities is led by Vice President of Dining and Culinary Services, Kathy Thomas, who is a registered dietician with several years’ experience providing delicious yet healthy menus for seniors. Campus Dining Directors meet frequently to plan a nursing home menu built around diets proven to improve cognition, lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease in older adults.

As spring and summer produce becomes available, Thomas encourages dining directors to incorporate mostly fresh ingredients in each person’s nursing home menu. She says, “This creativity helps Country Meadows create flavorful menus that are delicious while providing health benefits.”

She adds that at Country Meadows, dining teams welcome resident input to include regional favorites on the nursing home menu. Also, as a family-owned organization, Country Meadows invites residents to share family recipes and traditions to be considered as upcoming menu features.

Nursing home menu: focus on quality and proper nutrition

Quality of a nursing home menu is important as many seniors require assistance to make sure they take in proper nutrition. Frequently family members reach out expressing concern to improve their loved one’s quality of life. One person inquiring about Country Meadows’ services writes, “My 76-year-old father is having a hard time. He needs socialization (he’s very lonely), and meal presentation as he won’t cook for himself. He’s not eating properly and it’s affecting his blood sugar.”

Senior communities typically provide a variety of meal options for residents. The nursing home menu generally offers three meals a day as well as snacks and breakfast options utilizing healthy food options.

Fruits and vegetables

To ensure residents take in their daily dose of vitamins and minerals, nursing home menus serve fresh fruits and vegetables with most meals. Delicious seasonal produce such as fresh blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and traditional favorites such as bananas and oranges add sweetness to a daily diet. Fresh veggies are delicious too, and leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are high in omega-3 fatty acids making them beneficial foods to fight dementia.

Protein

Protein is critical as it helps older adults maintain muscle mass as well as immune and cardiovascular function. Nursing home menus include protein-rich foods including eggs, beans, spinach, grilled chicken, beef and fish, to name a few. These may be baked, broiled or grilled based on individual preference.

Grains

Grains are a key source of a nutrition in a hearty breakfast. The nursing home menu may incorporate healthy grains by offering items such as oatmeal, toast, waffles and other whole wheat baked items. Grains provide fiber, calcium and minerals to boost energy levels for seniors.

Dairy

Milk, cheese, butter and other dairy foods are essential to building and maintaining strong bones. Dairy is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, zinc and protein. A nursing home menu will offer dairy choices throughout the day.

Beverages

It is critical for older adults to stay hydrated. Nursing home menus offer beverage staples such as water, coffee, tea and fruit juices to encourage residents to drink. Frequently special events may feature a theme beverage or treat to brighten the day.

Learn more about dining at Country Meadows

Country Meadows has nine locations in Pennsylvania and one campus location in Frederick, Maryland. We offer a wide range of services to serve a variety of resident needs including restorative care, rehabilitation, personal care and assisted living, memory support and independent living services. If you or a loved one are beginning the retirement planning journey and would like more information about our communities, please contact us today. We’re here to help. Our co-workers can provide details on the services we offer, help you to schedule a tour of our campuses and answer any other questions you might have. Maybe join us for lunch!


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