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Menu ideas for an older audience(28 Posts)
I run a kitchen in a retirement home. The menu hasn't changed for a long time and I've been tasked with coming up with a new one. We currently serve full English breakfast (and all variants of), sandwiches, soups, toasties, jacket spuds etc. Meals are stew, fish & chips, pie and mash, cottage pie. I'm looking non complicated, non time consuming, batch cook and freezable ideas. Residents not keen on spicy. Thanks!
Have you asked them what they want?.
Although I hear people complaining about frozen veg so avoid using that. I think peas are allowed but they do seem to prefer fresh vegetables.
The problem is you need dishes that will appeal to a large group of people which is hard enough whatever thier age and also appeal to the older generation who aren’t as used to different Cusisines as we are.
Meatballs and mash and gravy
Chicken korma and rice
Layered potato and cheese bake
Toad in the hole
Stir fry and noodles
Salmon fish cakes
I used to batch cook freezer meals for my elderly grandfather. He liked:
- Fish Pie
- Hunters Chicken (no bbq sauce)
- Cheese and Potato Pie
- Sausage & Mash
- Spag Bol
Agree - ask them what they would like to see on the menu. They might appreciate the opportunity to input. And a survey/questionnaire wouldn’t take much to put together
Tray bakes would work well in that situation, something straightforward like chicken pieces, halved onions, new potatoes, carrots, chopped celery & lemon quarters.
Salmon fillets baked in foil served with frozen mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.
Pasta bake with pasta shells or spirals, tomato or bolognese sauce and a cheese topping.
Oven bake risotto, combinations such as bacon peas & leeks, or chicken & mushrooms.
Boiled or baked gammon joint served with cabbage, mashed potatoes (frozen?) and parsley sauce.
Chicken supreme served with long grain rice or pasta shells.
Sausage casserole with tomatoes and butterbeans.
That all sounds terribly beige. How about some lovely winter salads?
I visited a care home recently (Before Covid) and the most dispiriting thing was the coffee - I tipped mine down a sink when no-one was looking but it was Nescaff with boiled milk with skin on top, I hadn't tasted coffee like that in decades - and the old lady I was visiting agreed!
My mum loves liver and bacon in gravy.
My m has made me promise that if she ever has to go into a care home I will take her Indian takeaway every week.
Try things that taste of something.
Sausages in a tray with red onions roasted then some tomatoes thrown in at the end with basil leaves and feta. Simple, cheap and tasty.
Chicken thighs with new potatoes, lemon wedges, garlic cloves and thyme. Serve with salad.
Non spicy vege chilli with a roasted sweet potato crust on top.
Golden coconut lentil Dahl with chickpeas. Again it’s gently spiced and not at all “hot”
I agree that you need to ask them. I am involved with an annual social event for that generation: those who have done the catering for years are convinced that all "seniors" want sausage rolls, cheese & pineapple on sticks, fish paste sandwiches and trifle. Many do enjoy this, but many of the 60-75 contingent are keen to broaden the menu a bit!
Lancashire hot pot
Toad in the Hole
Cauliflower cheese and bacon
Chicken and mushroom pie
Great ideas, thanks. I have asked and will continue to do so, but they're a lovely polite bunch who just say they'll eat whatever I cook ( but won't )
If it’s a nursing home and most/all are over 80 they will have grown up on war food/rationing.
Stick to meat and 2 veg type meals.
Try to maximise British ingredients. Even pasta wasn’t common until the 1980s.
Toad in the hole
Poached white fish
A variety of soups esp broths from bones
Egg based dishes eg soufflé, omelette, baked eggs etc
Maybe give them a small card with 5 meal suggestions on it and they have to give it a 1/2/3 star rating. Then make the meals with the most stars.
Consider the cultural needs and preferences of your group.
Consider religious ends and preferences of your group.
Do a survey to find out what they actually want; talk to relatives as well.
Give choices each meal.
Then as tastebuds weaken in old age, don’t assume they want bland mush. Offer variety, some highly flavoured options as well as traditional British fodder.
They might have had rationing but that was a long time ago; many have travelled the world and adapted their diets since then. Many wouprefer paella or a decent curry to faggots.
My parents enjoyed 'curry' - which wasn't really curry. A little bit of cumin for the scent of curry and the addition of sultanas/raisins. They also liked Chinese take away, so something like sweet and sour, chow mein etc.
Having said that my parents would both be over 100 now. They didn't live in a care home and were going out for lunch weekly eating normal pub food until their late 80s early 90s.
I am 66, not ready for a care home for a good few many years but I certainly don't want continual 'beige' food now or when I am older. Many of my friends are well into their 70s and they don't want beige food either.
Whilst there will always be a need for soft, easily digestible food for some residents.
One care home I used to visit had monthly themed nights ranging from fish and chips and Italian to Mexican and Greek with appropriate accessories too and the majority loved it.
Over 80s may have eaten wartime food in their earliest years, but that was a long, long time ago. My parents are in their late 80s and have travelled abroad and enjoyed food from other cuisines for decades. We were going out to Italian restaurants and pizzerias for birthday meals etc in the 1970s.
Given that many older people have arthritis in the hands, I'd avoid anything that needs a lot of cutting up before you can put it in your mouth, so I'd go for boneless chicken rather than chicken legs, pork fillet rather than a pork chop with the bone in, etc.
Have a look at The Roasting Tin series of cookery books for ideas @DaanSaaf, there are a few of them now. The Quick Roasting Tin, The Roasting Tin Around the World, etc will give you some inspiration.
I manage a kitchen that caters to an older clientele. When I first started, I had to explain what lasagne was. Now it’s the most requested and popular dish. Other things that have become really popular-
‘Italian chicken’- chicken with tomato and olives with garlic roasted potatoes and a vegetable side.
Lamb tagine and couscous
Salmon with pesto and new potatoes
Bbq chicken with Mac n cheese
Honey mustard chicken
Lamb and barley stew
Sometimes dishes take a bit of getting used to the new flavours, but once customers tried things they were surprised how much they liked them.
My dm is 83 with moderate dementia. She stayed with us through first lockdown and meals that she seemed to enjoy the most were things with strong flavours - sweet & sour chicken, chicken in tomato & black olive sauce, pizza (she’d never had pizza before but really liked it). She also liked moderately spicy chilli and a spicy fish dish I make. Please don’t assume that just because they’re older they would prefer bland food!
My gran is nearly 80 and pre-covid was always entertaining. Her crew is 75-95 and this is what they like:
Bolognaise (not spaghetti though, they prefer penne)
Chicken and mushroom/bacon/salmon risotto
Korma or butter chicken and rice
Pork chops braised in stock/apple sauce
'Spanish chicken' (olives, tomatoes etc)
Sausage, onion gravy and mash
Salmon and new potatoes
Naice fish cakes
Lancashire hotpot/scouse (regional)
Cold ham, new potatoes and salad
Stuffed lamb hearts 🤢
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