How to Plan the Perfect Senior Living Menu

Menu planning is an important task for professionals working in the senior living industry. In a senior living home, careful attention must be paid to the kind of food that is being served to the residents. It is important for the management staff to make sure that all residents consume their minimum daily nutrition requirements. However, planning a menu is much easier said than done. There are a variety of factors that need to be taken into account during this process. Here are some key factors that should be taken into consideration:


The preparation and serving of food is a large cost for most facilities. A monthly budget and menu planning are key to staying on track financially. Using tools such as shopping lists and production sheets are excellent ways to cut back on waste and excess spending. It is possible to create a balanced and healthy menu, but only if limits are set and planning is done beforehand.


Variety is another key factor to take into consideration while meal planning for residents. The majority of people will grow tired of foods that are repeatedly offered, which could potentially lead to decreased meal satisfaction and eating altogether. Therefore, a menu for a senior living facility should be diverse while still incorporating resident favorites. Different types of food, cooking methods and seasonal options are great ways to increase variety.

Main Food Groups

Understanding the five main food groups is important before planning the perfect senior living menu. Incorporating a variety of different types of food may add balance to a meal. The five main food groups are:

  • Dairy products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein foods

One may argue that there is a sixth food group: sweets and fatty foods. While these types of foods are recommended in moderation, it is important to add these items to the menu on occasion to maintain resident satisfaction. By incorporating a variety of food groups, it will be easier to ensure that residents are consuming adequate nutrients to provide the energy that they need.

Incorporate the Residents

If circumstances permit, it may be a fun idea to incorporate residents on menu planning decisions. Collecting ideas of favorite meals, things they would like to try and things that they absolutely will not eat can give guidance and assistance to those that may find themselves in a rut while creating a menu. Also, seniors may feel more inclined to eat if they know that they have a voice with what happens in the kitchen.

Seasonal Rotating Menus

Weekly rotating menus are a great way to simplify while still having enough variety to keep the menu interesting for residents. For example, Grove Menus runs on a 5 week rotating schedule. Another option Grove Menus offers is to update menus according to season. While most facilities choose to have two cycles per year (spring/summer and fall/winter), it is also possible to update to four cycles per year (a new menu for each individual season).