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Cooking for 50 Senior Citizens


CaliPoutine
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I sent Randi Copies of our menu from work so she can see what sort of things we cook here (longterm care facility).

Some of you are correct in calling this lowest denominator cooking. We do use short cuts such as instant soups and margarine. However, I have 5. 43$ Cdn a person per day to provide breakfast, lunch (including soup, main course and dessert) dinner (including a roll or bread, main course, dessert) and 2 snacks daily. Randi's buget seems luxurious to me!

The main thing to remember is that by the time most of you end up in a care facility you will most likely either be on a minced or pureed diet, or somewhat affected by dementia.

We are making an effort to change our cooking - we do a "theme day" each month where we explore various cuisines of the world. I know egg rolls and fied rice arent really Chinese but for a lot of our residents that is very foreign and it takes a lot to get them to try it.

Trends are changing. We do cook lots of things from scratch and do our best to meet the needs of our residents.

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Thinking of the foods my grandmother ate -

stuffed cabbage

stuffered peppers

meatloaf

pork cutlets (breaded & fried) - serve w/red cabbage

Chicken croquettes

beef barley soup/stew

When I worked at a diner the most popular dish among the seniors was liver and onions.

How about quiche or omelets?

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For those not yet familiar with the trials and tribulations of how our older generation are eating and living let me offer my experiences. My mother and father were great lovers of food and a lifetime of gourmet magazine and a room of cookbooks. When they reached there 80’s they moved into an assisted living facility where they had their apartment and their food provided in the dinning room. It’s a beautiful place and it started out at about $40,000 a year for both. Now after 7 years and my father, now a widower, pays $47,000 a year just for him. The food is fairly creative and passable. Only two weeks ago we reached another milestone and he is going to have someone make sure he takes his medicine and takes care of normal hygiene…an additional $7,000 a year. One would think that you could have your own personal chef for that kind of money. God forbid you don’t have a very sizable nest egg when your time comes, and it will come. If you’re going to be living on Medicaid you can expect the type of menu being discussed here.

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"The main thing to remember is that by the time most of you end up in a care facility you will most likely either be on a minced or pureed diet,

Not true. Seniors are fed that kind of diet because it is cheap and in today's world the bottom line of the balance sheet is what determines what comes out of the kitchen or in most cases a huge commercial catering company such as Cara.

"or somewhat affected by dementia."

You have a some what narrow view of long term care. Many who can no longer manage a home - shopping, cleaning, cooking and or repair - on their reduced income in this era of low interest rates, opt for a home of some kind. Many opt for a "home" for companionship. There are many kinds of facilities, yours in only one.

Not everyone in the "senior" catagory is in a home or facility. Many live in their own homes and I bet in Randi's case they are members of a seniors group in a church and the twice monthy meal serves a number of purposes such as fellowship and providing some companionship to others in their age group. These seniors will have a lot to share with Randi if she asks.

"Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh

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"The main thing to remember is that by the time most of you end up in a care facility you will most likely either be on a minced or pureed diet,

Not true. Seniors are fed that kind of diet because it is cheap and in today's world the bottom line of the balance sheet is what determines what comes out of the kitchen or in most cases a huge commercial catering company such as Cara.

"or somewhat affected by dementia."

You have a some what narrow view of long term care. Many who can no longer  manage a home - shopping, cleaning, cooking and or repair - on their reduced income in this era of low interest rates, opt for a home of some kind. Many opt for a "home" for companionship. There are many kinds of facilities, yours in only one.

Not everyone in the "senior" catagory is in a home or facility. Many live in their own homes and I bet in Randi's case they are members of a seniors group in a church and the twice monthy meal serves a number of purposes such as fellowship and providing some companionship to others in their age group. These seniors will have a lot to share with Randi if she asks.

Of the 240 residents in our facility - 80 of them are on some form of texture modified diet. Not for cost reasons but because they either canot chew or cannot swallow. It is more expensive for us to make these types of diets than the regular food.

About 50% of our facility have cognitive impairments.

Maybe we are confusing the issue with the names of facilities?

I work at a Nursing Home, for people who need heavy care (feeding, dressing, just getting out of bed.) this is not assisted care living. We are the end of the line, most care you can get - no going back kind of place. Retirement or assisted living places are different and you can expect a different level of food service.

For this type of care you can expect to pay in the order of 2-3000$ a month. Because I am in Canada it may be different here than in the States.

Edited by Pookie (log)
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Randi, I wish you all the best in your new job and I hope you are able to keep your diner's happy but it is a tough call.

This has got me thinking hard about saving up more for my own old age - and I do hope I get to see one, but only if I can eat well!

My mum has quite bad arthritis and this makes using cutlery increasingly difficult - there are so many things caterers need to take into account.

Anyway for summer I wonder if you can do some nice chilled vegetable soups and even when it is warm I quite like to eat baked potatoes filled with tuna fish mayo and served with salad. Potato salads with lots of fresh herbs are lovely too. Perhaps you could serve cold boiled beef or cold roast shoulder of pork.

The diabetic friendly desserts seem hard to do on a budget - so often the 'good' desserts need to have quite a lot of low fat dairy or plenty of fruit which can be expensive, especially in the winter months. My MIL has diabetes and uses a lot of those sugar free instant jellies but I really do not like them. Dried apricots seemed to be one of the things on her list as ok and they can be good plumped up and served with a bit of yogurt and a small drizzle of honey.

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Have you thought about buying from a commercial supplier?  Most foodstuffs are much cheaper that way, and they deliver to your door.  That will free up time for you to cook, no?  It would also make it easier to plan meals rather than "waiting for the ads".

My experiences are very different. I've used suppliers over the years (still do on occasion) and more often than not, ingredients are less expensive at a wholesale club or even the grocery store.

Randi, I can't really think of suggestions that haven't already been offered up to you. We used to do a weekly dinner at a seniors residence and the food for the local (kosher) meals on wheels - but we had more money to work with and fewer restrictions.

The only things I can think to add at the moment are meatballs (chicken, beef, pork, a combo.) in a variety of sauces - and something like a kielbasa or other sausage (sorry for my ignorance of non-kosher meat prices, but I'm assuming this would work) cooked up with a bunch of onions and peppers.

Good luck!

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Today I did some grocery shopping for Thursday. I previously bought 50 bone in chicken breasts and stored them at the agency. They don't have the room to defrost them by Thursday so I picked them up and took them to my other job. We have a walk in there and the breasts can defrost slowly.

I'm supposed to shop on the morning of the program, however, I needed to go to the store today so I picked up the non-perishables so I can get those out of the way. I wanted to see how my budget was shaping up as well.

To recap, my first menu is

Greek Chicken( baked bone-in breasts), I'll remove the skin after cooking. I don't have to debone these because there is 1 large bone, unlike chicken legs.

Greek rice( basmati rice cooked pilaf style with onions, garlic, canned tomatoes and frozen spinach( sprinkle of feta on top, not sure if I'll do this)

Greek salad( romaine, cukes, tomatoes, green peppper, red onion,black olives and homeade viniagrette)

frozen veg( probably green beans)

rolls( bought at a bakery)

tomato juice

and Pineapple Manadarin cake.

I previously spent 71$ on the chicken, 10 bucks on a jug of Olive oil and 4.00 on 4 cake mixes. I'd much perfer to make a homeade cake, but time and cost will allow that( at least this time anyway) Btw, I shopped at NO Frills, one of the cheapest grocery chains in Ontario.

Today I spent 31.81.

It's broken down like this:

4 boxes of chopped spinach .97 each = 3.88

2 boxes of low sodium chick broth = 2.47 each 4.94

2 lbs of hot house tomatoes 99 cents lb 1.94

3lb bag of red onion 1.29

3lb bag of spanich onion 1.29

colavita red wine vinegar 1.69

cider vinegar( for my next meal) .99

4 cans of mandarin oranges .69 each x 2.76

2 cans of crushed pineapple .97 each 1.94

4 boxes of instant pudding .97 each 3.88

1 box sugar free jello( for the diabetics) .49

1 can ripe black olives 1.43

4 cans of tomato juice 4.00

I still need to get lettuce, green pepper, cukes, feta, coolwhip, butter and eggs.

I already bought some spices, the basmati rice and coconut at the bulk store.

I'm thinking about including a tzatziki sauce too, of course I would call it a yogurt sauce so they would eat it. Yogurt is on sale this week( 3 for 99 cents) and its balkan style as well. I ran that idea by the director and she said " It doesnt have too much garlic in it does it?. So, of course I'd have to cut the garlic way back. I'm still thinking about it.

I'll be sure to bring my camera along to get some pics on Thursday.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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You’ve obviously given a lot of thought to preparing not only an inventive menu, but also one that most should really enjoy. Given your restrictions I think you’ve come up with a winner. My hat is off to you…good luck.

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I've got my fingers crossed for yah. Think clean clear hearty flavors. Some people can't do salad without thousand island or ranch. I ran into that at my tearoom of all places. Salad was not salad with vinegar and oil.

If these pople are shy of garlic be careful with the feta, maybe serve it as an option on the side. I'm not trying to make you crazy. I do hope all goes very well, can't wait to see pictures and how it all goes!

Rootin' for yah!

L&P,

Kate

Maybe layer the jello with a tid tad of yogurt mixed into half so you can layer it similar the rainbow ones we've seen on here. Ok ok I'll shut up. :biggrin:

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My first thought was beef-veggie stew; you can use frozen veggies in it, and inexpensive cuts of beef go a long way, especially when cut into small, bite-sized bits. It is a bit prep-intensive at the beginning, but once simmering, requires little attention. Other ideas--

--Beans. Figure out what kind of legume is acceptable to your clients (red beans, navy beans, black beans, favas, blackeyed peas--surely some legume is familiar to them) and do a ham & bean soup, or ham-potatoes-n-bean soup. Just a little ham goes a long way for flavor, and you can still have other cooked veggies on the side.

--Egg salad and/or chicken salad bulked up with egg. Easy to prepare, easy to eat, familiar, and a traditional "luncheon" food, after all. Make some homemade yeast rolls to perk up the meal, folks can eat their rolls on the side or as a sandwich.

My mother-in-law dines twice weekly at the local Council on Aging's luncheon program. The food is prepared by Louisiana prison inmates some 75 miles away earlier in the day and delivered a few hours before the meal. Thus, everything is sitting around in its own juices & veggies are always quite soft. She says that most of their meals are okay, but she goes for the fellowship & convenience, not the cuisine. Typical entrees include red beans & rice flavored with sausage or ham, smothered chicken w/rice, spaghetti w/meat sauce, baked pasta like ziti or lasagna, and casserole-type dishes. Salads run toward iceberg lettuce w/hard tomatoes, or pasta salads. And she says there's always a piece of cake or a cookie or a roll.

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"The main thing to remember is that by the time most of you end up in a care facility you will most likely either be on a minced or pureed diet,

Not true. Seniors are fed that kind of diet because it is cheap and in today's world the bottom line of the balance sheet is what determines what comes out of the kitchen or in most cases a huge commercial catering company such as Cara.

"or somewhat affected by dementia."

You have a some what narrow view of long term care. Many who can no longer  manage a home - shopping, cleaning, cooking and or repair - on their reduced income in this era of low interest rates, opt for a home of some kind. Many opt for a "home" for companionship. There are many kinds of facilities, yours in only one.

Not everyone in the "senior" catagory is in a home or facility. Many live in their own homes and I bet in Randi's case they are members of a seniors group in a church and the twice monthy meal serves a number of purposes such as fellowship and providing some companionship to others in their age group. These seniors will have a lot to share with Randi if she asks.

Of the 240 residents in our facility - 80 of them are on some form of texture modified diet. Not for cost reasons but because they either canot chew or cannot swallow. It is more expensive for us to make these types of diets than the regular food.

About 50% of our facility have cognitive impairments.

Maybe we are confusing the issue with the names of facilities?

I work at a Nursing Home, for people who need heavy care (feeding, dressing, just getting out of bed.) this is not assisted care living. We are the end of the line, most care you can get - no going back kind of place. Retirement or assisted living places are different and you can expect a different level of food service.

For this type of care you can expect to pay in the order of 2-3000$ a month. Because I am in Canada it may be different here than in the States.

Yes - the US is different than Canada. My father-in-law's skilled nursing home cost almost $7000/month - and the price has increased since he died 2 years ago. And we live in a relatively inexpensive part of the US. We have assisted living places too - and they are less expensive. In general - the most frequent reasons for moves from assisted living to skilled nursing are 1) that the resident becomes incontinent; 2) that the resident can no longer self-administer medications (there are laws regarding what kinds of health and other care providers can and can't administer medications); and 3) that the resident needs medical care on a daily basis.

I've read this whole thread - and - so far - no one has explained who these "seniors" are (except that they are Canadian and live in a non-urban area).

How old are they? Seniors can be 65 - or 85. My husband and I are 60ish - and my father is 88. Big difference.

So what is the nature of the group you're trying to feed? Range of ages? Range of physical ailments? How many people need to be on restricted diets (salt - fluid - sugar - etc.) for one reason or another (heart problems - diabetes - etc.)? How many have dental issues and have problems chewing? I assume you won't be dealing with people with serious health/eating issues - like people who need thickened food to swallow properly. You're not dealing with a large group. Take a poll. I suspect if you're dealing with a pretty old group - your most common problem will be cardiac issues - and in that event you should be working with a "heart healthy" diet - like low salt. It is easier for people who can eat a lot of salt to add it at the table than for people who can't to take it out.

I don't know what is wrong with trying to prepare meals that people enjoy. No matter how boring that job may seem because of the peoples' lack of culinary sophistication. The job isn't to educate some 90 year old. It's to give him or her a meal that he/she enjoys - one that won't cause an episode of congestive heart failure. So what do these people really like to eat? ASK THEM. Again - a poll would be a good idea. Because my father-in-law had congestive heart failure and because his skilled nursing home was kosher - his treat for the week was a breakfast out with 2 slices of bacon. He loved those 2 slices of bacon :smile: . As well as his weekly lunch out for a cheeseburger.

I find nothing wrong with eating frozen foods. In fact - when it comes to certain vegetables - like peas - frozen is usually much better than fresh (unless you're getting English peas in the spring in a high class restaurant). I would try mightily to get a large freezer you can use on a regular basis so you can take advantage of sales on things that are or can be frozen. You know what people at my father-in-law's nursing home loved? Ice cream. Except for the diabetics and the people with bad congestive heart failure - they ate tons of it.

Do you have access to any kind of "club" - like Sam's - or Costco? If you do - even if it's an hour away - you can use it to stock up on things cheap. And you can buy institutional packages of condiments - so people can do things like dress their salads to taste.

In my opinion - the worst thing you can do to older people is to take away their dignity - and you do that by implying that what they really like to eat is garbage. Robyn

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"The main thing to remember is that by the time most of you end up in a care facility you will most likely either be on a minced or pureed diet,

Not true. Seniors are fed that kind of diet because it is cheap and in today's world the bottom line of the balance sheet is what determines what comes out of the kitchen or in most cases a huge commercial catering company such as Cara.

"or somewhat affected by dementia."

You have a some what narrow view of long term care. Many who can no longer  manage a home - shopping, cleaning, cooking and or repair - on their reduced income in this era of low interest rates, opt for a home of some kind. Many opt for a "home" for companionship. There are many kinds of facilities, yours in only one.

Not everyone in the "senior" catagory is in a home or facility. Many live in their own homes and I bet in Randi's case they are members of a seniors group in a church and the twice monthy meal serves a number of purposes such as fellowship and providing some companionship to others in their age group. These seniors will have a lot to share with Randi if she asks.

Of the 240 residents in our facility - 80 of them are on some form of texture modified diet. Not for cost reasons but because they either canot chew or cannot swallow. It is more expensive for us to make these types of diets than the regular food.

About 50% of our facility have cognitive impairments.

Maybe we are confusing the issue with the names of facilities?

I work at a Nursing Home, for people who need heavy care (feeding, dressing, just getting out of bed.) this is not assisted care living. We are the end of the line, most care you can get - no going back kind of place. Retirement or assisted living places are different and you can expect a different level of food service.

For this type of care you can expect to pay in the order of 2-3000$ a month. Because I am in Canada it may be different here than in the States.

Yes - the US is different than Canada. My father-in-law's skilled nursing home cost almost $7000/month - and the price has increased since he died 2 years ago. And we live in a relatively inexpensive part of the US. We have assisted living places too - and they are less expensive. In general - the most frequent reasons for moves from assisted living to skilled nursing are 1) that the resident becomes incontinent; 2) that the resident can no longer self-administer medications (there are laws regarding what kinds of health and other care providers can and can't administer medications); and 3) that the resident needs medical care on a daily basis.

I've read this whole thread - and - so far - no one has explained who these "seniors" are (except that they are Canadian and live in a non-urban area).

How old are they? Seniors can be 65 - or 85. My husband and I are 60ish - and my father is 88. Big difference.

So what is the nature of the group you're trying to feed? Range of ages? Range of physical ailments? How many people need to be on restricted diets (salt - fluid - sugar - etc.) for one reason or another (heart problems - diabetes - etc.)? How many have dental issues and have problems chewing? I assume you won't be dealing with people with serious health/eating issues - like people who need thickened food to swallow properly. You're not dealing with a large group. Take a poll. I suspect if you're dealing with a pretty old group - your most common problem will be cardiac issues - and in that event you should be working with a "heart healthy" diet - like low salt. It is easier for people who can eat a lot of salt to add it at the table than for people who can't to take it out.

I don't know what is wrong with trying to prepare meals that people enjoy. No matter how boring that job may seem because of the peoples' lack of culinary sophistication. The job isn't to educate some 90 year old. It's to give him or her a meal that he/she enjoys - one that won't cause an episode of congestive heart failure. So what do these people really like to eat? ASK THEM. Again - a poll would be a good idea. Because my father-in-law had congestive heart failure and because his skilled nursing home was kosher - his treat for the week was a breakfast out with 2 slices of bacon. He loved those 2 slices of bacon :smile: . As well as his weekly lunch out for a cheeseburger.

I find nothing wrong with eating frozen foods. In fact - when it comes to certain vegetables - like peas - frozen is usually much better than fresh (unless you're getting English peas in the spring in a high class restaurant). I would try mightily to get a large freezer you can use on a regular basis so you can take advantage of sales on things that are or can be frozen. You know what people at my father-in-law's nursing home loved? Ice cream. Except for the diabetics and the people with bad congestive heart failure - they ate tons of it.

Do you have access to any kind of "club" - like Sam's - or Costco? If you do - even if it's an hour away - you can use it to stock up on things cheap. And you can buy institutional packages of condiments - so people can do things like dress their salads to taste.

In my opinion - the worst thing you can do to older people is to take away their dignity - and you do that by implying that what they really like to eat is garbage. Robyn

Whoa there, I never said it was garbage. I said that I don't cook the way the previous cook did. I prefer to use fresh vegetables over frozen and limit my use of convience products. I dont use canned soups or 1 dollar a kilo margarine.

These are seniors that live in Grand Bend, Ontario( the majority of them). I've only been there one time before, but I'd gather the ages range from 65-90. The agency that is providing the meals is a local social service agency serving the senior community. They are not there to cater to everyone's health issues. They host a hot meal in 3 different towns ( mine is 2x a month, the others are every week).

I suppose I should have said that its not only the seniors that prefer meat and potatoes, its the whole area. I was in major culinary shock when I moved here( I'm originally from California). There is no fine dining anywhere in the area or even in London, ON for that matter. This is not a foodie area. I don't eat red meat nor does my spouse and when people around here hear that, they are shocked. How could we not eat red meat? What a travesty.

I worked at a pizza place for a few weeks helping a friend's sister out. She admonished me for blotting the grease off the fries. She said " you're wasting paper towels" " they like grease in this county".

I could go on and on, but unless you experience it first hand, its hard to understand.

I'm making a rice dish with spinach and tomatoes. I was originally told that I don't have to prepare a second veg, but then yesterday I was told I better get another veg so there are no complaints. Oy......

There is a costco and a Sam's in London, but like I said. I'm only getting paid for a 7.5hr day. I've probably put in a good 2 hrs already and I havent even cooked a darn thing yet. I'll be back at the grocery store at 11:30am on Thursday and I wont be finished at the church until 7:30pm. I've ordered a case of frozen veg from ( Eg member Pookie) and I'll have to drive to London to pick that up.

I'll report back on Friday.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Whoa there, I never said it was garbage.  I said that I don't cook the way the previous cook did.  I prefer to use fresh vegetables over frozen and limit  my use of convience products.  I dont use canned soups or 1 dollar a kilo margarine.

These are seniors that live in Grand Bend, Ontario( the majority of them).  I've only been there one time before, but I'd gather the ages range from 65-90.   The agency that is providing the meals is a local social service agency serving the senior community.  They are not there to cater to everyone's health issues.  They host a hot meal in 3 different towns ( mine is 2x a month, the others are every week). 

I suppose I should have said that its not only the seniors that prefer meat and potatoes, its the whole area.   I was in major culinary shock when I moved here( I'm originally from California).   There is no fine dining anywhere in the area or even in London, ON for that matter.  This is not a foodie area.   I don't eat red meat nor does my spouse and when people around here hear that, they are shocked.  How could we not eat red meat?  What a travesty.

I worked at a pizza place for a few weeks helping a friend's sister out.  She admonished me for blotting the grease off the fries.  She said " you're wasting paper towels" " they like grease in this county".  

I could go on and on, but unless you experience it first hand, its hard to understand.

I'm making a rice dish with spinach and tomatoes.  I was originally told that I don't have to prepare a second veg, but then yesterday I was told I better get another veg so there are no complaints.  Oy......

There is a costco and a Sam's in London, but like I said.  I'm only getting paid for a 7.5hr day.  I've probably put in a good 2 hrs already and I havent even cooked a darn thing yet.  I'll be back at the grocery store at 11:30am on Thursday and I wont be finished at the church until 7:30pm.  I've ordered a case of frozen veg from ( Eg member Pookie) and I'll have to drive to London to pick that up. 

I'll report back on Friday.

Well 65 to 90 is a pretty big range. You ought to get more specific numbers of how many people you have in whch age groups. Here in Florida - a "junior senior" is 65-80. A "senior senior" is 80+. The needs of the 2 groups can vary dramatically.

If you're cooking for seniors - especially senior seniors - you have to keep health in mind. I'd simply take a poll. Who has what wrong with them. E.g., if 75% of the people you're cooking for have to limit salt intake - then do it. It's hard to tell without knowing your audience.

Cooking for anyone - especially in a "quasi-institutional" setting - isn't about cooking for "foodies". It's about giving people what they like to eat. Putting a smile on their faces - not trying to educate them. I am probably more sophisticated than the people you're cooking for - but I eat meat (although sparingly) and I hate feta cheese and yogurt. No reason to spend your limited dollars on things your audience won't like. FWIW - I live in north Florida - and I'm sure the food tastes here are more similar to your clients' than they are to yours. Plus - I travel a lot. There are more places (in terms of food likes and dislikes) like your current area and mine than parts of California.

FWIW - the average resident of my father-in-law's nursing home was a Jewish person in his/her late 80's (my father-in-law was in his early 80's and not Jewish). The Depression generation. Talk about meat and potatoes. And braised meat - or burgers like hockey pucks - because rare meat with a drop of blood is out of the question in a kosher environment. My father-in-law was the VP of the Resident's Council - and the #1 most common complaint about the food was that the potatoes in the potato salad weren't well done enough - they weren't mushy enough for most peoples' tastes. It's just a question of knowing your customers.

Did anyone tell you why you can't serve pasta? It is cheap and healthy and - if prepared in certain ways - nutritious.

BTW - I have an old cookbook I never use called the "Meat and Potatoes" cookbook. Sounds like you could use it - and I'd be glad to send it to you if you PM or email me with your name and address.

And you should have a fundraiser and buy a big cheap freezer so you can drive to Sam's or Costco once a month or so and stock up. In general - most staples are about 1/2 price there (unless you have local stores that sell lots of BOGOs).

Finally - I do not think of $3 and change as an impossible goal for a meal. We have lots of buffets here - like at Golden Corral - where all you can eat for lunch is about $6. Which includes food - cooking - employees - cost of restaurant - and profit. It isn't fine dining - but some of it - particularly the veggies - is pretty good. Robyn

P.S. I don't care for margarine - but it is a southern staple - and it's all you'll find in a kosher nursing home. Shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Edited by robyn (log)
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Did anyone tell you why you can't serve pasta? It is cheap and healthy and - if prepared in certain ways - nutritious.

I was told they don't like pasta.

Even though I consider myself from California. I grew up in S. Florida. I'm very familar with the elder population of Florida. My grandparents( 90 and 96) are still alive and they live in Sunrise, Florida. I'm do plan to limit salt, I'm only going to use the feta as a condiment on a greek salad. I'll probably only buy 8 oz for the entire quantity of salad.

I also plan on doing the survey. I thought that was a great idea.

Re: the Freezer. There is a large chest freezer at the location and I used it when I bought the chicken breasts 3 weeks ago. The current protocol is to shop the day before you cook. I asked if I could buy the chicken early because it was on sale. As I stated earlier, the senior rarely get chicken because it is so pricey here. I really dont want to, nor do I have the time( I have another job) to run all over London shopping in bulk. Additionally, I have to go to certain supermarkets where the agency has a charge account.

The prior cook had NO problems meeting the 3 a person budget, but my whole point of this thread is that I DONT want to cook like I'm cooking at an institution. I dont want to make casseroles with canned soup or use bottled salad dressings. I'd rather make a buttermilk ranch than buy a bottle full of chemicals.

With that said, I only have 7.5 hrs so I can't do too many labor intensive meals. I also only have 2 stoves and 2 large roasting pans.

For this meal, I plan to make the rice on top of the stove in 3 different pots and cook 25 chix breasts in each pan.

I spoke to the previous cook regarding the timing and she suggested I precook the rice and then mix it in with the tomatoes and spinach. This is what I mean about a different way of cooking. My plan is to cook it pilaf style using chix stock, some onions, garlic, olive oil, etc. I also bought basmatic. The previous cook would probably use minute rice. I'm sure the seniors would love the minute rice because that is what they are used to, but I don't feel good about serving that.

I've scoped out some recipes for the next few meals.

On my list is a ground turkey shepards pie from Rachael Ray and

Stuffed cabbage from America's test kitchen family cookbook.

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Here is the deal....

Additionally, I'm not allowed to cook chicken legs because someone previously chocked on the bones. 

.......

  I'll make a simple greek salad using regular black olives( not greek). 

And for heaven's sake, I hope you're using pitted olives! :rolleyes:

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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Cali I did Rest Home cooking for 2 years and these were my observations. Just bear in mind that what Kiwi's ( New Zealanders) like to eat can/will be quiet different from your group. :biggrin:

Bell peppers and cucumber were not wanted by the majority because of wind/heartburn problems they can create. Onions to a lesser extent, but Sausages in Onion gravy always went down a treat.

The favourite meals were: Roast dinners, Corned Beef with Mustard sauce, Liver and Bacon casserole, lightly curried Chicken and Apricots ( a choice of rice OR mash) Beef and Mushroom casserole, Macaroni Cheese ( they dont want pasta? Unbelievable), Shepherds or Cottage Pie as has been suggested, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Meatloaf, plain old Crumbed Fish with Tartare and oven wedges, Steak and Kidney with a suet crust, Pork, Pineapple and Kumara casserole, Irish Stew, Chicken or Beef Chow Mein.

These are all pretty basic but the group I catered for did not want any ' fancy' food!! They were surveyed once a month and asked for suggestions re upcoming menus.

This was also a rural community and we often had venison, rabbit or wild pork given to us. Duck was plentiful also and was always enjoyed. Probably because we have such a huge population of wild duck that the elderly had always had free access to them. Wild turkey was not appreciated!!

The casseroles were so easy to puree for those on soft diets. Vegetables were mostly served rather plain, with the exception of cheese sauce on cauliflower/broccoli etc. Salads were enjoyed by quite a few but certainly not all. Some had denture problems and leafy fresh greens caused havoc. Likewise coconut in anything.

Desserts included an awful lot of hot puddings such as Golden Syrup Pudding, a lovely self saucing Chocolate pudding, baked Rice pudding, meringue topped puddings, Bread and Butter puddings ( heaps of combo's there like Rum and Raisin, Chocolate and Banana, Lemon Meringue), Baked Apples etc.

Cold desserts included Spanish Cream, fresh fruit set in jelly, Pavlova Roulades or the regular round ones, Trifles, Jelllied Rice, mousses, fresh fruit salads, Creme Caramel, etc. Many of the desserts can be made with a sugar substitute.

Good luck and if I can help in any way, just let me know! :smile:

Edited to add: We made all of the meals from scratch, the dressings etc also. Used canned tomatos but that was about it!

Edited by Sentiamo (log)
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CaliPoutine - I lived in south Florida for about 25 years. We were probably there together at least part of the time :smile: . And my 88 year old father moved from south Florida to be near us last year. If you get down to Florida - you should come here and visit the skilled nursing home I mentioned. It is one of the best - if not the best - in the state. And I thought the food was pretty good (we used to eat in the cafeteria all the time) - especially considering all the dietary restrictions faced by the kitchen staff.

Maybe you can get volunteers to do some shopping for you in the big box stores? For example, rice in a lot of them is very good (even here in Jacksonville - because Costco has a large number of Chinese and Indian customers). And cheap. And sold in 50 pound bags! I don't know anything about prices in Canada. But here in our local Costco - they sell packages of boneless chicken breasts. Six presealed packs - two in a pack. 12 breasts for about $15. I use them all the time for stir fries. Etc. If you can somehow keep your food costs on the big stuff down - you can afford to spend more on little "flourishes".

Your situation reminds me of a big fight I had with a local outfit a few years ago. A reasonably large shelter for battered women/children. The state of affairs was that all the "country club women" (and I guess I'm one of them) would have luncheons and bring little baskets of stuff to donate to the shelter. Like one roll of paper towels - and 3 rolls of toilet paper - and a small container of cleanser - in an expensive basket topped with a big bow. All the stuff was bought at the highest possible price - and the basket cost more than the stuff in it. I suggested that instead of doing this nonsense - each woman should write a check for $25 - and we should use the money and buy a gift card to a big box store. And I was told this was a ridiculous idea - because then the country club women wouldn't have anything to do - like put together gift baskets and go to lunch <sigh>.

(As an aside - I note that they also asked me to address invitations to the annual fundraiser. I said sure - and I'll put the whole mailing list in Microsoft Word - with a fancy font - so you never have to address invitations again. I was told that I had to do it by hand. And that was the end of my relationship with that charity!)

But I hope you don't wind up in my situation. You're the new guy on the block - but I think if you have some good ideas and some extra pairs of hands - and the powers that be are willing to think a little out of their pre-existing "box" - that you can change things for the better. Robyn

P.S. One thing I haven't mentioned is the possibility of seasonal or holiday "themed" meals. I am sure I'm not unique in liking to cook/eat certain things once or twice a year because of a season or a holiday. Like red velvet cake for Valentine's Day (that's a southern thing). Or corned beef. Terrible for you but I make it once a year on St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps leg of lamb would be traditional for Christian people in Canada (I admit I don't have a clue). My FIL's nursing home used to have a birthday party once a month for all people born in that month. And special meals for every Jewish holiday (and there are many of them) - and every US holiday too. Plus things like summer BBQ meals (another southern thing - just no pork!). You get the idea.

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Well, my first day with the seniors is over( thank gawd). I took a whole whack of pictures to share.

Here is the kitchen and dining room

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I went to the grocery store at 11:30am to pick up the last of the items I needed. I bought 4 packages of romaine hearts( 2 per pack) at 1.79 each

3 large green peppers 1.27lb( 2.43), 2 red peppers( 2.49lb), 1.95

Feta cheese 400g 6.49

4 1L containers of generic whipped topping 1.49 each 6.00

2lbs of butter 3.69 each

celery 99cents

3 field cucumbers 1.49 total

2 dozen large eggs 2.09 each dozen

Three 2lb packages of baby carrots 2.49 each

3 lemons 99 cents

2L of half and half( for their coffee) 2.99 each. I had over a litre left over for the next time.

In Total I spent 51.84 yesterday, 31.81 on Monday and 81.00 a few weeks ago when I picked up the chicken, oil and cake mixes.

More pics to come.......

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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So, when I got there, I unloaded the groceries and the million pots I schlepped there from my own kitchen and got to work. I made 4 finger lickin good cakes( recipe courtesty of the cake mix doctor). This cake is also known as pineapple mandarin cake.

Basically, you take a vanilla cake mix, add melted butter, eggs, a bit of oil and a whole can of mandarin oranges and mix it all up. Thankfully, I brought my hand mixer from home because I couldnt find one there. After they cool, you poke holes in the cake and pour pineapple juice over the top. The frosting is a mixture of cool whip, pistachio pudding mix, coconut and crushed pineapple. I chucked these in the fridge and freezer to chill.

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I also made 1 box of raspberry sugar free jello for the diabetics.

I received lots of compliments on the cake and one person even complimented me on the jello. LOL, she said she loved the flavor!!

A batch of volunteers came in around 1 to set the tables and help me in the kitchen. I set one lady to work on cutting up the onions and celery for the rice. Another lady worked on cutting up the salad ingredients. I made the dressing which was really tasty. Just some Olive Oil( not evoo), red wine vinegar, a touch of honey mustard, fresh pepper and dried oregano.

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I left around 2:30 to pick up the chicken at my other job. I had stopped there on my way back from the grocery store and I realized that I had no room to store the chicken because I had to chill down the cakes. I also forgot my thermapen instant read thermometer and pepper mill at home so I borrowed the ones from work. I brought the chicken back and set to work on it. I opened 25 packages of chix breasts, rinsed it and divided it up between the 4 pans that I had availble. I used some salt free seasoning blend, fresh pepper and an italian blend. I mixed up some olive oil, fresh garlic and the juice of 3 lemons and poured that over.

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I removed the skin afterwards. The chicken was very moist, but since I cooked it off way too early, I had to keep it in the oven and it dried out a tad( more on that later).

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Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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I love the pictures. I totally had the dining room pictured like that, kinda spooked myself : ) The kitchen is pretty nice all things considered.

But I can't wait any longer!

Did they like the rice??????!!!!!!!

I'm getting there. Some did, some didnt. One person said it was too spicy. Funny, because there was zero spice in it. I thought it was rather bland myself and I wont make it again.. I cooked such large quantities of it, that it didnt cook right and was more mushy than separate grains.

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So, I totally screwed up the timing of everything. I was finished cooking everything( except the carrots) way too early. The women volunteers said it was better for me to be done early than late and I kinda panicked on how much chicken I had to cook so I started it at 3pm. It was done by 4, so basically I kept it warm for over an hour. I turned the ovens down when the chicken hit 165f, which was probably a mistake. It was probably 185 by the time it was served. I had no complaints on the chicken, but I thought it was too dry. It was very moist when I removed the skin and cut each breast in half. The coordinator thought there might be 51ppl attending so she thought I should cut them in half so we would have enough. As it turned out, there was a lot left over.

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Here is my plate, I finally sat down to eat at 6:30. By this point, I kinda lost my appetite. I enjoyed the salad, the rice sucked, the chicken was dry and the carrots, well, they are just carrots. At least they were fresh and not frozen.

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I did get a lot of positive feedback, especially on the cake. As I said upthread, some ppl loved the rice, some ppl didnt. I need to learn to let complaints roll off my shoulders, because honestly, I'm not used to ppl complaining about my food.

I'm proud to say I used NO margarine in the entire meal. There was no salad or carrots left over. We had 7ppl buy "take outs". The leftovers are packaged up in divided foil trays that can be frozen. So, at least some ppl liked the meal enough to take it home.

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