What can help - For days when we can't be bothered

We know that there are times when it can be difficult to choose what to eat, especially if we are not used to making food for ourselves, or we feel sad, unwell or unmotivated, or our appetite has become really small, or perhaps we are fed up of eating the same things again and again.

Sometimes at a time of loss, the thought of cooking food that we are used to eating with a loved one is too much.

When we are struggling with food and eating, be kind to yourself. On good days when you feel like cooking, make an extra portion to eat later (keep in the fridge or freeze). On days when it feels a bit more difficult, remember: eating anything is always better than eating nothing.

Try and make sure that you have three days’ worth of food in your fridge and store cupboard.

Ready meals, packet and frozen foods are fine.

Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked up with ready meals, small packets of snacks like sausage rolls or falafels; yoghurts; biscuits and cakes or chocolate bars; cereal; ready cooked rice; tinned vegetables, beans and pulses; and cheese and crackers.

Small packets or portions are ideal; we don’t need to worry about waste, or become overwhelmed by large packets and big portions. Supermarkets often sell ready-chopped fruit and vegetables in small packets.

Try and increase your appetite – eat little and often.

Try eating three small meals and snacks six times a day rather than three bigger meals.

Toast is a great help when our motivation to make anything else is poor. Serve it with butter or just as you like it.

Or you could try it with:

  • Peanut butter, soft cheese, jam or marmite.
  • Add smashed avocado and top with an egg.
  • Spread soft cheese and add sliced strawberries.
  • Spread with marmite or peanut butter and top with mashed banana.

Or what about:

  • Cheese on toast: Toast one side of the bread, turn it over, spread with butter and marmite or chutney. Cover with sliced or grated cheese and top with thinly sliced tomato. Grill until the cheese is bubbling.
  • Easy pizza toast: Toast one side of the bread, spread with butter and tomato puree or tomato sauce, add some chopped ham, sprinkle with herbs and grated cheese on top. Pop under the grill until the cheese is bubbling.
  • Scrambled eggs on toast: Whisk together two eggs in a bowl, and add salt, pepper and a little milk. Add a knob of butter to a saucepan on a low heat. When the butter is melted, add the egg mix, stir continuously and cook until they are as you like it. Serve with toast and butter.
  • Eggy bread – delicious dipped into tomato sauce. Cut up a slice of bread into quarters. Beat up one egg in a bowl and soak the bread in the egg. Heat up a knob of butter in a frying pan; add the egg soaked bread. Fry lightly on each side.

Doing some gentle exercise or getting some fresh air can help stimulate your appetite. Take a short walk or there are some simple chair-based exercise ideas here: https://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Documents/NHS_ExercisesForOlderPeople.pdf

There are more tips and ideas in our booklet, ‘Eating well in later life,’ which can be downloaded from our website (link) or you can request a hard copy by contacting us (link to contact us page).

We’ve also put together some of our favourite recipes. We’ll update these regularly with new suggestions so check back or sign up to our mailing list to receive updates.

Recipes

Fortifying foods

When you’re new to cooking for yourself

Vitamins in later life

Eating while in hospital