In the past five years, aged care menus have seen a significant change. The Royal Commission into Aged Care, Aged Care Quality Standards, and the implementation of ID DSI Framework have all helped chefs in aged care do a fantastic job trying to keep up. We asked Rosie Mohr, an Aged Care Dietitian from Nutrition in Queensland, for her advice on how to prepare an aged care menu that meets all of the criteria.
How do chefs create a menu for aged care that is appealing to everyone?
Talk to the residents about what they would like. If they don’t eat it, food won’t add nutrition to their diet. One place I frequent loves party pies. It’s not the healthiest food. We include them on occasion, even though they wouldn’t eat them all the time. It’s important to ensure that the menu is representative of the local culture. Communication with residents is key. You can adapt your menu to fit their tastes by learning about the traditional and common foods they eat.
What should be on a daily meal plan?
The three main meals of each day are breakfast, lunch and dinner. All aged care menus must offer these six meals throughout the day. To ensure that they get enough protein and energy, it is important to eat smaller meals more often.
How do chefs create menus that offer options and reduce food waste?
Most menus are rotated every four weeks. Residents and their families can have the complete menu in one place. Because people can change their minds, they should choose the right option. They will eat more if it is closer to their mealtime. You may find options for breakfast in some facilities so that the kitchen can plan how much food they will prepare.
International standards now apply to ‘textured’ or pureed food. These foods can be made more appealing by chefs.
Visual appeal can make it more likely that the meal is eaten. It can be very helpful to be able see the food because we eat with our eyes and all other senses. It can sometimes be difficult to tell what the vegetable or meat is on a plate because it has been all puréed. We recommend using color. You should not serve chicken with cauliflower and white potatoes. You should have a variety of colors. Food molds are a great strategy. The food should be cooked and then placed in the food mold and frozen. They then put the food onto a plate and steam it. It doesn’t matter if you use piping bags, or present it on a plate. Make sure it is thought out. It is important to see how it looks on the plate.
What can be added to pureed foods?
People who eat textured modified diets are at greater risk of malnutrition. It can be mistaken for baby food. We recommend texture modified foods that are fortified with more protein and energy.
How can food fortified?
It is a great idea to add milk powder. It contains the same amount protein as commercial supplements. In recipes that use milk, I recommend using enriched milk. You can add extra milk powder to your milk. You can add extra cheeses, fats, creams, cream, butter, or sour cream to the milk.
What are some other foods that should be included on an aged care menu.
The focus of chefs should be on protein. As we age, our protein needs increase. A resident who loses weight tends to lose muscle mass. A hot breakfast is a great way to increase your protein intake. Also, make sure you have a meat-free or vegetarian option for lunch. You can also add protein to your soup. For people older than 70, the requirements for dairy are more stringent than for younger people. Make sure that desserts at lunch and dinner contain at least half of the dairy. This could include custard, yoghurt, custard or milk in a panna cotta, as well as rice pudding. Sandwiches are quite popular. Sandwiches are very popular. Omega 3 is also important. We recommend that fish be included on the menu at least once a week.
What can a chef do to increase the success of a menu?
To keep your menu fresh, add variety. You can change it according to the seasons. However, you shouldn’t stick with a fixed menu. Avoid repetition of main protein foods such as chicken for lunch and chicken for dinner. Try a different protein dish.