Casserole Club encourages healthier eating for older people

Casserole Club meals help combat many of the nutritional issues for older people highlighted in our new booklet.

by Jo Lewin, Public Health Nutritionist 

The Food Partnership have been working on a series of #EatWellAsYouAge projects including Casserole Club and we’ve produced an information booklet aimed to prevent malnutrition as people get older.

Through our work in partnership with Age UK Brighton and Hove around older people and nutrition, we found a general lack of knowledge about nutritional needs and how these change as people get older.  Older people may find it difficult to prepare complicated meals, have different nutritional needs and may find their appetites are affected by health issues.

Our meal sharing service called Casserole Club encourages neighbours to cook an extra portion to share with an older or isolated person.  We spoke to some of the diners who receive meals through Casserole Club about how home-cooked meals have helped their lives. They  highlight the nutritional issues affecting older people addressed in our booklet.

Cooking for one can be a challenge

Our participants’ say eating healthily can be a challenge when cooking for one.

Doris, 72 says she microwaves all of her food and eats mostly ready meals as they are quick and easy. She doesn’t have much interest in preparing food which takes a long time.

Casserole Club has helped her as both her cooks come when they say they will and they bring lovely tasty home cooked meals she can look forward to and it feels healthier than the food she makes for herself.

Longer term health conditions can be an obstacle to cooking.

Mobility difficulties or a sensory impairment for example, can affect a person’s ability in preparing food or getting to the shops.

Maureen, 72 says she tries to eat healthily but her arthritis affects her food choices. She picks things that are simple and easy to cook such as packet or tinned soup, fish cakes, veggie sausages and salads. She hasn’t had a roast dinner for ages because it’s not really possible and being less mobile has affected her appetite.

Maureen said; “If you don’t really do anything in the day you don't work up an appetite – and because I stay at home most of the time I eat quite small portions. This makes cooking difficult as cooking for one person when you eat a small portion is hard.”

Relying on ready-meals is repetitive

Supermarket ready meals have become an important solution for people cooking for one, however choices are quite limited and reliance on ready meals can get repetitive.

Elizabeth, 68 loves eating fresh fish but says it’s difficult when it’s just one person. She said; “I take fish out of the freezer and end up throwing half of it away because it’s too much to eat before it goes off and the portions are for two.”

She wants to eat healthily but because of her health problems finds sandwiches and ready meals are often the easiest options. Casserole Club is helpful for her as the meal is often enough to eat half the next day as well as she has a smaller appetite. It means she doesn’t have to cook as often.

Older people do less online shopping

Although online shopping has helped, many older people are still digitally excluded from this service.

Casserole Club is a bit like a home delivery service and diners report that as being one of its big benefits. Elizabeth, 80 says she loves the Casserole Club as her cook is Indian and she often cooks her traditional Indian food which she wouldn’t have had otherwise. She looks forward to her cook bringing something round every week as it adds more variety to her meals.

To find out more about Casserole Club please visit the website https://www.casseroleclub.com/about or call the Food Partnership on 01273 431700

You can download a copy of our booklet here:

http://bhfood.org.uk/eat-well-as-you-age or contact for hard copies.