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Savvy Senior: Best meal delivery options for older people

Dear Savvy Senior: Can you recommend healthy meal delivery options for seniors who don’t cook or get out much? My 80-year-old father, who lives alone, has a terrible diet, and I worry about his health. — Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned Daughter: A wide variety of healthy meal delivery options are available for seniors who live at home and do not cook. Here are several top choices.

Community-based programs

A good place to start is to find out if there’s a senior home delivery meal program in your dad’s area. Meals on Wheels is the largest and best-known program, but many communities offer senior meal delivery programs sponsored by other organizations that go by different names.

To find services available in your dad’s area, visit MealsOnWheelsAmerica.org, which offers a comprehensive directory, or call the area aging agency near your dad. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to get the local number.

Most programs across the U.S. deliver hot meals daily or several times a week, usually around the lunch hour, to seniors over age 60 who have problems preparing meals for themselves, as well as those with disabilities. Weekend meals, usually frozen, may also be available, with special diets (diabetic, low-sodium, kosher, etc.).

Many of these programs typically charge a small fee (usually $2 to $9 per meal) or request a donation, while some may be free to low-income seniors who qualify for Medicaid. There are also some Medicare Advantage plans that cover limited meal service benefits.

Meal-delivery companies

Another great option is to order your dad some pre-made meals online from a delivery service company. These companies provide a wide variety of tasty meal choices and will usually post the nutrition information on their website.

Most companies will also cater to a host of dietary and medical needs, such as low-sodium and low-carb meals, diabetic meals, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options. Plus, the ordering process is simple.

Depending on the company you choose, the food arrives fresh or frozen, and most deliver all across the U.S. Prices generally start at $8 to $13 per meal, plus shipping, but many companies provide discounts or free shipping when you order meals in bulk. And most companies work with Medicaid and some Medicare Advantage plans to help reduce costs.

Some of the best meal delivery companies for older adults, as rated by Verywell Health for 2023 include:

Best variety: Magic Kitchen (magickitchen.com)

Best value: Mom’s Meals (momsmeals.com)

Best for nutrition consultation: BistroMD (bistromd.com)

Best plant-based meals: Mosaic (mosaicfoods.com)

Best gluten-free: ModifyHealth (modifyhealth.com)

Best chef-prepared: CookUnity (cookunity.com)

Best for customization: Snap Kitchen (snapkitchen.com)

For more information, visit VerywellHealth.com.

Grocery stores and restaurants

Depending on where your dad lives, he may also be able to get home-delivered meals from local grocery stores or restaurants. Some grocery stores offer a selection of pre-cooked meals and foods, including roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh soups and salads. Contact the grocery stores in your dad’s area to inquire about this option.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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