“Healthy 7 Day Meal Plan for Elderly [Free Download]” was written by Courtney Payan. Edited/reviewed by Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND. Courtney is a dietetic intern at Oregon Health Sciences University.
Eating a healthy diet is important at any age. However, there are certain changes that occur as we age that make it especially important to receive adequate nutrition.
In this article we have created a free 7 day meal plan for elderly to simplify a healthy diet. As such, you can easily use this as a reference when planning your weekly meals.
Why is Nutrition Important for the Elderly?
First let’s talk about what nutrition is. And why it is especially important for the elderly.
The Basics of Nutrition
Nutrition is one of the key foundations of health. Nutrients are divided into two primary groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macro means big and micro means small. We need a large number of macronutrients and smaller amounts of micronutrients. But both are important and essential for health.
These macronutrients are responsible for many functions in our bodies. They provide energy (calories), help with growth, repair, and other functions in the body.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. They are required in small amounts in order for the body to properly function.
Examples of micronutrients include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin K
We can’t talk about good nutrition without talking about hydration.
Water is also a major component to nutrition. Proper hydration levels being essential for optimal health.
You can learn more in our article on dehydration in the elderly.
Nutrition for the Elderly
Eating a balanced diet can help prevent certain conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
As we age our bodies change; they can require more of some nutrients, and less of others.
For example, many older adults require less calories than their younger counterparts. However, they may also require more nutrients such as protein to help prevent muscle loss.
You can learn more in our article on 7 Key Nutrients for Senior Nutrition.
Here is an overview of some of the key nutrients which are imperative for older adults to consume in order to avoid certain diseases.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for bone health. Adequate amounts can help to prevent osteoporosis in the elderly.
Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods and can be obtained from sunlight. Calcium can be obtained from sources such as dairy.
Protein is made up of amino acids. Think of these as building blocks which make a whole protein. Protein plays a vital role in the building and repair of bodily tissues such as muscle.
Protein can be consumed in the form of animal products such as meat, or from plant-based products such as beans.
It is important that older adults consume enough protein in order to preserve muscle mass, mobility, and the boost body’s ability to recover from illness.
Check out our Protein Requirements for Older Adults article for more information.
Fiber are carbohydrates which cannot be broken down by the digestive tract. These carbohydrates are important in regulating hunger and blood sugar levels, as well as maintaining overall gut health.
It is important that older adults receive enough fiber in order to keep bowel movements normal. It also is preventative against type two diabetes and heart disease.
Challenges with Healthy Eating for the Elderly
As we age there are several factors which may increase the level of difficulty when trying to obtain proper daily nutrition.
Challenges with healthy eating for the elderly can include, but are not limited to:
- Living situation
- Limited income
- Food access (ie. inability to drive to the grocery store)
- Medications (which can affect appetite)
- Difficulty chewing/dental issues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Decreased ability to taste/smell
- Mobility and ability to cook
- Eating alone
If you are having trouble with access to food (or affording food), a social worker can be a helpful resource. There are programs available to help the elderly access food.
If you are struggling with eating alone, try organizing a weekly dinner with either a friend or family member. Some senior centers will also have clubs and potlucks that you can get involved with to meet other older adults.
If you are having trouble feeding yourself due to mobility issues speak with a doctor. They can refer you to an occupational therapist who might be able to help with this.
And finally, if you are having trouble eating due to trouble swallowing speak with your doctor. They can refer you to a speech therapist who might be able to help.
A Healthy Meal Plan
Here’s more information on what a healthy meal plan for the elderly looks like.
Healthy Foods to Eat
A healthy diet is one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
An emphasis on these food groups will ensure that fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals are being consumed.
A healthy diet also incorporates low-fat or non-fat dairy products such as milk or yogurt. Many of these are fortified with calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and some items such as yogurt are an excellent source of probiotics.
Lean protein is also an essential component to a healthy diet. Poultry, eggs, and white fish are excellent sources of lean protein. Fish also contains Omega-3’s and selenium, both which may be important for brain health and function.
Protein can also be obtained through plant-based sources such as those from legumes.
Try to use heart healthy fats in cooking. Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats are a good source of healthy fat.
Add in Some Physical Activity
Try getting 30 minutes of some physical activity per day. This can be a simple as going for a walk, or doing some stretches depending on your physical ability.
As always, please speak with a doctor before beginning a new exercise regime.
7 Day Meal Plan for Elderly
Our 7 day meal plan for elderly is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Try using this free calculator to calculate your daily needs based on your size and activity level.
Be sure to snag your 7 Day Meal Plan for Elderly free download HERE.
Note: Always consult with your healthcare team before making changes to your diet based on your individual health issues and concerns.
Day 1 provides 1965 calories and 107 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (2 large), whole wheat toast (1 slice), jam or jelly (1 tsp), orange juice (1 cup)
Nutrition: 405 calories and 16.6 grams of protein
Lunch: Tuna Sandwich on wheat (2 slices) with light Mayo (1 tbsp) and relish (1 tbsp). Served with an apple and one serving of baked potato chips
Nutrition: 520 calories and 36 grams of protein
Snack: Cheddar cheese (1 cubic inch) and whole grain saltine crackers (5 crackers) and nonfat milk
Nutrition: 280 calories and 14 grams of protein
Dinner: Whole grain penne (4 oz), ground Turkey (4 oz), marinara (1/2 cup), zucchini (1 c) and Parmesan (1/4 c)
Nutrition: 760 calories and 41 grams of protein
Day 2 provides 1993 calories and 119 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Whole wheat pancakes (2/3 c for two pancakes), blueberries (1/2 cup), Turkey sausage (3 links), and nonfat milk (1 cup)
Nutrition: 500 calories and 26 grams of protein
Lunch: Grilled chicken (1 breast) sandwich on whole wheat bun, with lettuce (1 slice), tomato (2 slices), mustard (1 tsp), and baked potato chips (2 servings)
Nutrition: 547 calories and 36 grams of protein
Snack: Apple (medium) and nonfat milk (1 c)
Nutrition: 160 calories and 8 grams of protein
Dinner: Almond (1 oz) Crusted Salmon filet (1/2 filet), with olive oil (1tbsp) baked rosemary baby Red Potatoes (1/2 c diced), olive oil (1tbsp), and Asparagus (5 sprigs)
Nutrition: 786 calories and 49 grams of protein
Day 3 provides 1946 calories and 147 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Oatmeal (1 c) with strawberries (1/2 c), blueberries (1/2 c), drizzled with honey (1 tbsp) and served with nonfat milk (1 c)
Nutrition: 505 calories and 1 grams of protein
Lunch: Chicken breast, low fat Caesar (1 tbsp) wrap w/ whole grain tortilla (1), romaine lettuce, tomato and Parmesan (1/4 c) and an apple
Nutrition: 447 calories and 39 grams of protein
Snack: Peanut butter (2tbsp) and celery sticks (5 sticks) and nonfat milk
Nutrition: 295 calories and 22 grams of protein
Dinner: Grilled Chicken kabobs (6 oz), rice pilaf (1 serving), hummus (2 tbsp) zucchini (1/2 c) and whole wheat pita bread (1 bread)
Nutrition: 699 calories and 65 grams of protein
Day 4 provides 1,979 calories and 104 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Sunny side up eggs (2 large), Turkey sausage (2), low fat cottage cheese (1/2 c) and orange juice (1 c)
Nutrition: 480 calories and 41 grams of protein
Lunch: Grilled cheddar cheese (1 cubic inch) on whole wheat (2 slices), and tomato soup (1 c)
Nutrition: 530 calories and 19 grams of protein
Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt (1 container), blueberries (1/2 c), and granola (1/4 c)
Nutrition: 260 calories and 12 grams of protein
Dinner: Barbecue Chicken (1 breast) sandwich, whole wheat sourdough, and barbecue sauce (1/4 c) w/ coleslaw (1/2 c) and baked potato chips (1 serving)
Nutrition: 709 calories and 42 grams of protein
Day 5 provides 1,995 calories and 98 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Whole wheat (2) French toast (2 large eggs) with nonfat milk (2 tbsp) and a pinch of cinnamon. Served with a banana and fortified orange juice (1 c)
Nutrition: 560 calories and 25 grams of protein
Lunch: Egg salad (2 large eggs), mustard (1 tsp), on whole wheat and baked potato chips (1 serving)
Nutrition: 510 calories and 24 grams of protein
Snack: Peanut butter (2tbsp) and an apple (1 medium)
Nutrition: 270 calories and 7 grams of protein
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta (1 serving), Shrimp (6 shrimps), olive oil (1/4 c), spinach (1 c), and Parmesan (1/2 c) whole wheat toast (1)
Nutrition: 655 calories and 42 grams of protein
Day 6 provides 1,995 calories and 103 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Omelet (2 large), cheddar (1 cubic inch), avocado (1/2 small) and nonfat cottage cheese (1/2 c) and orange juice (1 c)
Nutrition: 570 calories and 32 grams of protein
Lunch: Mozzarella (2 slices), tomato, and basil panini on whole wheat sourdough served with tomato soup 1 c)
Nutrition: 470 calories and 22 grams of protein
Snack: Hummus (3 tbsp), whole wheat pita (1 pita) and a banana
Nutrition: 295 calories and 11 grams of protein
Dinner: Two Grilled Turkey (4 oz) tacos, lettuce (1/2 c), tomatoes (1/2 c), cheddar cheese (1/2 c), corn tortillas (2) Brown rice (1/2 c), Black Beans (1/2 c) and salsa (2 tbsp)
Nutrition: 660 calories and 38 grams of protein
Day 7 provides 1,990 calories and 109 grams of protein.
Breakfast: Whole wheat buttermilk waffles (1 cup per waffle), 1 banana, and 1 tbsp maple syrup, and nonfat milk (1 cup)
Nutrition: 485 calories and 19 grams of protein
Lunch: Chicken salad (1/2 c) sandwich on whole wheat (2 slices) and baked chips (1 serving)
Nutrition: 570 calories and 34 grams of protein
Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt (1 container), banana, and nonfat milk (1c)
Nutrition: 260 calories and 21 grams of protein
Dinner: Roasted chicken breast, mashed potatoes (1 c), green beans (1/2 cup), carrots (1/2 cup) and gravy (1/4 cup) and slice of sourdough whole wheat toast
Nutrition: 695 calories and 35 grams of protein
Conclusion: Healthy 7 Day Meal Plan for Elderly
We hope this article on Healthy 7 Day Meal Plan for Elderly was helpful! Be sure to snag your free download HERE.