Older people can often face difficultly accessing a nourishing meal. Throughout November, we delivered a weekly community meal for older adults at The Ripple Project Community Café.  These took place every Wednesday evening until 1st December.  We served a two-course meal followed by teas and coffees.  We served nearly 140 portions of food including leek and tattie soup, minestrone, stovies, chicken korma and sausage and bean casserole. Almost 70% of attendees said that they'd attended the meal for 'company'. 

Here is our volunteer, Pawel, with a delicious and nutritious winter vegetable and lentil soup which was our starter one week at The Ripple community meal. Scroll down for the recipe!

During winter it can be more challenging for an older person to stay well. As we age, our bodies react differently to the cold making it harder to manage some health conditions and more difficult to fight infections. Good nutrition can make a big difference to an older person’s wellbeing throughout the year but especially during the winter months.

What can we do?

There are a few things we can do as family members or friends of older people to help them maintain good health during the winter months. At this time of year, an older person may be less active. This can accelerate the loss of muscle mass. By adding pulses such as lentils or beans to soups and stews the protein content is increased which supports the maintenance of muscle mass but also wound healing and illness recovery. Importantly, adding pulses also adds extra fibre to the meal which can help to prevent constipation.

If we feel someone is potentially not eating enough, try to ensure that their meals are full of nutrition and energy so that every mouthful is providing nourishment.  Adding a little cream or butter to mashed potato and soups or grating cheese over pies and stews can add extra nutritious calories that someone may be missing out on if they are not eating enough.

We all stay indoors more during the winter. Staying indoors more can make us feel lonely and less motivated to cook and eat well. If you support an older person, why not batch cook some of their favourite meals so that they can be pre-portioned and frozen in their freezer. Using a slow cooker can help with this. A slow cooker is also a very energy-efficient way of cooking!

Make mealtimes sociable

When it comes to food, it can really help to be social. Eating together and talking can make mealtimes an occasion to look forward to!  This can really help boost people’s moods which can increase their appetite and motivation to eat. When eating at home, eating together can also bring the added benefit of encouraging an older person to help with the preparation of a meal. Whether it is setting the table or being in charge of an element of a recipe – smells, sounds and interest in the meal can all boost appetite.

Some meals that are easy to batch cook include:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Casseroles
  • Pies

Here are some of our favourite winter warmer recipes:

These are all warming, hearty and nutritious meals that can be adapted to suit tastes, preferences and consistency. These meals also have a high fluid content which can help with hydration.

Edinburgh Community Food Take & Make DIY Meal Kits:

To help with batch cooking, did you know that we offer a range of pre-portioned Take & Make DIY meal kits? Many of them are suitable for slow cookers and freezing. We have a range of soups and main dish recipe bags available to purchase including minestrone soup, leek and tattie soup, lentil shepherd’s pie and tomato, bean and kale stew. Browse the full range here.

Check out these resources for more information: 

Eat Well Age Well

Winter wellbeing | comparethemarket.com