Strategies for Seniors: Simplify Your Cooking to Save Time and Energy

Simplifying Cooking for Seniors

As you get older, daily tasks can become more difficult. This includes cooking. While you may enjoy cooking, meal prep for seniors can be tiring and take a lot of time. Simplifying your cooking process and meals as you age can benefit you by giving you more free time and saving energy to enjoy other activities and pursuits.

Ready to simplify your cooking? Check out the tips below.

12 Ways to Simplify Your Cooking

1. Set Expectations

If you love to cook or bake, you may be known among your family and friends for your best dishes. Cooking elaborate dishes can provide a great “wow” factor, but over time it can wear you out. Even simple dishes can put a smile on the faces of your friends and family. Think about what the situation requires and then find basic recipes that fit the bill.

You can also find simple ways to make your dishes stand out. You can use decorative plates, garnishes, or other fun decorations. Creative presentation can add fun elements to your dishes without your having to put in a lot of work.

2. Make It Easy

The simpler the recipe, the easier and less time consuming it will be to cook. When determining what you want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, choose a meal with fewer directions and ingredients. Some good menu ideas for the elderly include:

Crock Pot Meals - Crock pots can significantly ease your meal prep in the kitchen. You or a loved one can combine and season your meal ahead of time and stick it in the freezer. Then, all you need to do is put the ingredients in the crock pot and let the crock pot do the work.

Soup - Soup can be an easy, healthy meal to prepare, freeze, and then reheat later. Just be careful about the ingredients you choose. Foods like pasta and potatoes can continue to absorb the broth and come out soggy later.

Chicken – Chicken is a healthier meat option that can be cooked in large quantities and frozen for later. It can also be used in a variety of different dishes, from salads to pasta to tacos. Chicken offers a variety of possibilities.

Prepared Meals in Grocery Stores - Most grocery stores offer meals that require little to no prep. On days when you’re busy or just don’t feel like cooking, you can grab a balanced meal that’s ready-to-go. You can even pick out a few to freeze for those days when you’re running short on time or energy. Be sure to invest in a mobile medical alert system from Alert1 to keep you safe and connected while you shop.

3. Cook Larger Batches

If you do happen to cook a more time-intensive meal, try to cook in bigger batches. This way you can get a few meals out of the effort, rather than just one lunch or dinner. Even if it is just a side dish that you use multiple days in a row, it can save you time and effort.

4. Cook In One Pot

Elaborate meals can make a lot of cookware messy. Then you must wash them all, dry them, and put them away. By preparing meals you can cook in just one pot, you can eliminate the number of dishes you have to clean later.

If you wash your dishes at the sink, standing for long periods of time can tire out your legs and increase the risk of falling. Dishwashers can also pose a threat. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study in 2002 to analyze emergency room injuries for adults 65 and older. One of their findings concluded that, tripping over open dishwasher doors was a common injury pattern.1 An Alert1 medical alert bracelet can help keep you safe and protected in the kitchen by providing you with an immediate emergency response if you do experience a fall in the kitchen.

5. Repeat Meals Each Week

Some may think that eating the same thing every week is boring, but it can significantly simplify your cooking process. You can get into a routine and not need to think and focus as much about the ingredients and the rest of the cooking process. Then you will have more energy and freedom to think about your other daily decisions and activities.

6. Routine Dinners

If you’re not fond of eating the same meals every week, choosing weekly themed dinners can still provide you with a routine to simplify the process. For instance, you can set up a weekly calendar and simply repeat the cycle each week. You can have soup one week, Italian meals the next, Mexican the week after, etc. Such a plan makes weekly grocery shopping faster and simpler.

7. Plan Out Meals Ahead of Time

Planning out meals ahead of time will help when it’s time to go to the grocery store. Grocery shopping can take a lot of time and energy when you don’t know what to get. If you know exactly what you want, you can get in and out of the grocery store more quickly and have more time for other important tasks.

If grocery shopping takes you extra time or energy, you may be concerned about tiring yourself out and increasing the risk of falling. Alert1’s On-the-Go Medical Alert Watch can help keep you protected while in the grocery store. It has a GPS so our 24/7 Command Center agents can locate you when you are not at home.

8. Stock Up on Groceries

Another way to save time at the grocery store is to stock up and buy more in one trip. If you only need to go to the store once every two weeks rather than once a week, you can spend your off weeks pursuing other activities and interests.

9. Grocery Delivery

Grocery delivery is another useful way you can get your groceries quickly and easily without having to spend the time and energy of going to the store yourself. Look online or call your local grocery store to find out if they offer grocery delivery.

There are also online services such as Instacart that offer grocery delivery. If you aren’t computer savvy, ask a friend or family member to help you figure out how you can get your groceries delivered to your door. Meals on Wheels is another popular service you may want to consider.

10. Get the Right Tools

There are a variety of kitchen tools on the market that make cooking easier. If you have a favorite dish, look for a tool that can help you. There are tools for chopping, mixing, blending, processing, baking, cleanup, and more. By investing in a few tools, you can help simplify the process of preparing your favorite dishes.

It is also important to ensure you are using your appliances safely. According to the 2002 study from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission mentioned previously, 12,790 emergency room visits and 32,270 medically treated injuries were caused by kitchen appliances.³ 

11. Organize Your Kitchen

Kitchens may get cluttered over time. If this is the case, it can make it difficult to navigate your kitchen. While a personal alarm button can help keep you safe if you do happen to trip amidst the clutter, getting organized is your best solution. You may have a cabinet of Tupperware that you must dig through to find what you are looking for or multiple appliances all over your counter. Getting organized and clearing out the clutter will help you navigate your kitchen with ease.

12. Eat Out Every Once in a While

While health and financial concerns likely preclude eating out every night, occasionally going out for dinner can give you a nice break from cooking and shopping. Inviting friends or family to come along makes it an opportunity to socialize as well.

Other Important Considerations to Keep in Mind

While you take steps to simplify your cooking and shopping, there are still a variety of important considerations to keep in mind.


As you age, it is important to absorb the nutrients required to keep both your mind and body healthy. Some of these nutrients include:

  • Fiber – For digestion
  • Good Fats – For a healthy heart and cholesterol
  • Potassium – For your nerves and muscles
  • Calcium and Vitamin D – For bone health
  • Vitamin B12 – For energy metabolism

If you eat a lot of processed foods, fast food, or T.V. dinners, you may not be getting the nutrition you need. This can lead to a variety of physical and mental issues. When choosing your meals, be sure you are getting the nutrients you need.

Dietary Restrictions

As you age, you may develop dietary restrictions. Some common ones include:

  • Sodium – Low-sodium meals for seniors are important as sodium may be bad for your heart.
  • Diabetes – Avoid consuming too many carbohydrates.
  • Lactose Intolerance/Dairy-free – Avoid milk and other dairy products that may give you digestive issues.
  • Gluten Intolerance – Avoid foods with gluten as they can cause you digestive issues.
  • Keto/ Low Carb – Stick to a low-carb diet
  • Allergies – Avoid any foods that cause an allergic reaction.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

As you age, you will want to ensure that you maintain a healthy weight. Obesity poses threats such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and some types of cancer.

On the other hand, malnutrition can lead to increased falls and illness. According to the Meals on Wheels fact sheet, in 2020, 13% of seniors are marginally food insecure, 7% are food insecure, and 3% are very low food insecure. It is very important that you maintain a healthy weight as you age. If you notice any signs of malnutrition, be sure to get the nutrients you need and consider getting a medical alarm to keep you safe.

Stay Hydrated

As you age, it is important to drink more water to maintain body temperature regulation as well as other bodily functions. Dehydration can lead to muscle pain, fatigue, and heat exhaustion. These conditions can also lead to more falls. Be sure to drink plenty of water with your meals.

Benefits of Simplifying Your Meal Prep

When you take these measures to simplify your cooking process, you just might improve your life in a variety of ways. You can create more time for yourself, decrease stress, and help improve the overall quality of your life. You can be happy and healthy as you free up more time to spend on your favorite pursuits or with friends and loved ones.



1,2 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff. 2002. Special Report: Emergency Room Injuries Adults 65 and Older. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Special Report: Emergency Room Injuries Adults 65 and Older.

World Health Organization staff. 2003. Obesity and Overweight. World Health Organization. Obesity and Overweight.

Meals on Wheels staff. 2020. MOWA 2020 Factsheet National. Meals on Wheels. MOWA 2020 Factsheet National.