Tips to encourage an older person to cook for themselves

Living alone can have a huge impact on a person’s health and eating habits as well as their motivation to cook. A lack of interest in cooking meals is extremely common among older people, simply because they don’t believe it is worth going to so much fuss for one person or they don’t have the inspiration when it comes to meal ideas.

Other problems such as mobility, teeth and denture problems and weakened hands can also lead an older person to feel less obliged to cook proper meals, so we’ve put together a couple of ideas you could try with an elderly parent, friend or neighbour to get them back into the kitchen and cooking for themselves again.

Shop for ingredients together

It’s a good idea for an elderly person to visit a supermarket or local shop if they can, even if it’s with your help, so they can see all the fresh ingredients available to them. Being able to see, touch and smell produce can help to get the inspiration for dish ideas going. Plus a trip to the shops is good on a physical and social level too.

Many supermarkets also provide ideas for dishes you can make with their products too.

They might also spot an ingredient they had completely forgotten about along their way and decide to try it out again in a meal.

Grow Your Own

Gardening is great for the elderly and has many benefits for the mind and body, which you can read all about here, so why not encourage your elderly relative/friend/neighbour to grow their own ingredients? It could be anything from potatoes to tomatoes, beans or lettuces, the options are endless and using ingredients grown right outside in your own garden can help make a dish that extra bit special.

Cook old family favourites

If there are meals you used to really enjoy as a family, then why not suggest your parent/relative tries recreating them again? Just talking about the dishes and your memories surrounding them can help inspire them cook something. It’s also a great way to get your family together and grandparents could even include the grandchildren in their cookery projects, passing down family recipes.

It’s also a good idea to batch cook meals such as soups, casseroles and stews and freeze them, as this can help save money and they are convenient on days when an elderly person may be unwell or might not have the energy to cook something from scratch.

Age UK’s Fit as a Fiddle: Cooking for One guide has some great recipe ideas available as a PDF or you can apply for a printed copy.