Filling Up My Dad’s Freezer

Well trying to fill 2-3 shelves anyway! It’s a huge freezer, not to mention it’s extremely ancient also - seriously maybe 55-60 years old, but running strong! Some sort of a miracle, or maybe just a relic of a bygone age when things were made to last.

Some of you may know that my old sweet daddy is 97 now, blind now due to advanced macular degeneration, and very deaf due to age and prior occupational hazards. (Air Force Pilot.) The amazing thing is that he continues to live on his own, despite offers to move in with us. He’s extremely inspiring in his advanced age, has his marbles, and is surprisingly spry physically. Also has chemo/immunotherapy every 6 weeks - go Dad!! Unfortunately his wonderful girlfriend passed quite unexpectedly the end of November, and he’s taking it hard. He used to spend a couple days a week at her care center, and they’d have meals together in the dining room. So, I knew he was eating well, and in good company, at least part of the time. As well, he can feed himself sufficiently at home, BUT I feel he’s grieving/depressed and is feeling a loss of purpose. So, H and I have been cooking comforting winter type foods we know he loves, plan to drive it over tomorrow, and spend some good quality time cheering him up, taking him out for errands, and whatever he needs. Sorry for the extra long post. Here’s what we’re taking:
3 quarts ham & bean soup
2 containers sloppy Joe meat mix
4 glazed mini meatloaves
2 quarts tortellini soup
4 containers Greek style meatball wedding soup w/orzo
3 containers Greek Stifado
There will be a chicken casserole he loves, and hopefully some mini banana breads and pumpkin loaves, depending on how much energy I have left today.
Would love to hear from any of you who have cooked for elderly others - what works and what doesn’t.


Great post! Thanks for sharing. Hope my kids are as great as your turned out. I hope he gets over his loss. You’re certainly a great help. Sounds like a great man.


My dad’s taste buds changed dramatically in his later years
From distictly savoury to everything sweet
I think best you ask your dad, or maybe check with the girlfriends care home what he really liked.


If I was your father, I would want a fridge full of children like you.


That’s an awesome sentiment.


Love this, @Lambchop. Good for your dad, and good on you.

What does he do on those days now? Are you close enough geographically that they could be meals he has with you?

For the freezer-stocking, given his constraints, I would suggest portioning only 1-2 meals at a time so he doesn’t have to deal with leftovers in the fridge or defrosting a large batch of something. For something like meatloaf, would be great to have an entire meal (meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veg) in a single container.

During the pandemic, when we were cooking so much all the time and sharing often with elderly neighbors and friends, we discovered it was easier for the older folks when we packed a whole meal in a takeout container than when we gave them separate containers of each component.

So we ordered flat (reusable) takeout containers from Amazon, and started using those (I like the small ones and ones with dividers like these and these, or for soups and stews, these or these depending on his capacity).

In terms of other food choices, might be nice to ask him what he’d like that you don’t already have on the list (maybe something from the care center or elsewhere), and the list is heavy on soup/stew items (but maybe that’s intentional). My dad can’t eat very much anymore, but he likes a variety.

Consider adding something pasta-based (baked ziti / meat sauce pasta / pastitsio / portioned lasagna or roll-ups) and rice-based (spinach rice / risotto), plus some individual proteins for when he’s assembling a meal himself but could use an add-on (portioned chicken breast / steak / souvlaki, or even a broken-down rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken pieces).

Bite-sized desserts and snack-size chocolates – like @badjak both my grandmothers and now my dad developed a sweet tooth in old age.

Good luck, what you’re doing is wonderful


Very Soylent green of you, lol


The last time I had surgery, I prepared a bunch on single serve meals (in advance) in quart freezer bags. I would just cut the bag open, put the contents on a paper plate and heat it up in the microwave. Some of my favorites were:
(1) Rice and hamburger with Mr. Yoshida Sauce
(2) Kraft Mac and cheese with hamburger
(3) Onion and carrot casserole (cut into single servings)
(4) Mac and cheese with chopped broccoli.
(5) Egg fried rice with vegetables.
(6) Lentil, rice and vegetable skillet.
Does he like Chorizo??
I’ve mixed ground chorizo with rice, mac & cheese, noodles, mashed potatoes (basically anything) and very much enjoyed it.


How wonderful that you are doing this! Of course everybody has their food preferences, and I have noticed those preferences become more particular as folks get older. It’s whatever the person will actually eat—at least that’s been my experience.

Your Dad is so lucky to have someone like you who is attuned to what he likes and can manage. A good meal and a big hug is everything, right?


When my dad was widowed I used to visit him once a month and I used to take him home made soups since that was the meal he liked best. Lentil soup and potato leek soup were his favourite so I used to take him a couple of containers of each then throw in one extra type. He didn’t like pasta soups too much but pretty well everything else was fair game. I lived close enough I could wrap the containers in ice packs to keep the soups frozen for the 90 minute bus/train ride to dad’s house. I would also echo @Saregama 's suggestion of portioning out his meals in one or two servings.


What I used to make to fill my Mom’s freezer. Note - EVERYTHING was portioned into single serving containers - or in the case of small foil containers, a dinner and part of a small lunch.

Small foil containers of Mac & Ham & Cheese. I’d cook the elbows for 1 minute less than usual; make a homemade cheese sauce, pour it over the elbows and chopped up ham (from a ham steak OR pre-cubed packages at my local supermarkets), and let them cool down. A cover goes on; they go into the freezer. Defrost, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top, and bake at 350° for about 25 minutes until bubbly.

Beef stew (but you already have the stifado)

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew - this was a favorite of my Mom’s. I always served it on egg noodles, but she would forego the carbs and just make some baby carrots to go with.

Baked Ziti with meat sauce.

Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder - this was a favorite of Mom’s, and I make it for my sister and BIL with pureed corn mush, as he can’t digest corn kernels.

Mini Meat loafs - you’ve already got this.

Chicken Pot Pie - in small foil containers, with pie dough stretched across the top. Easy to defrost and heat on a tray in the oven.


My 91-year-old mother is a widow but well enough to still live in her own home and able to drive. She has never liked to cook, even raising 6 kids, and after my father died she married a guy who used to bartend and cook in the back of the house at a Chinese restaurant near Chicago. She hit pay dirt with that man. And now all these years later since he’s been gone, she has to cook for herself. I visit her a couple of times a year, and batch cook things to put in her freezer. I love and miss that woman.


Our city has a seniors centre with day programs (bridge, line dancing, choir, etc.) and they have a dining room that is open during lunch hour. If your dad is looking for companionship, particularly at mealtime, maybe there is something available where he lives? The seniors centre where I live also has prepared meals that you can buy to take home.


My godparents are 86 and 98, and I thought about bringing them prepared eggplant parm, lasagna and cannelloni, in small portions allowing for 4 servings, to make 2 dinners for each of them. I held off, because I don’t know how much space they have in their freezer right now, since they also have 2 grown children, 2 DILs and 4 adult grandchildren. I had visited an 80 yo friend recently, who broke her pelvis, and she mentioned people have been so thoughtful, bringing over refrigerated and frozen meals, but she and her husband don’t have the fridge or freezer space, and she can’t eat all the food that people are generously bringing over.

I decided to buy them dehydrated Italian soup mixes for the pantry instead. There are some nice dehydrated risotto mixes, too. I’m also a fan of some heat & serve canned cassoulets, as a treat.


My go-to is to say, “I made [name of dish]. Would you like some? It’s okay to tell me if that doesn’t sound good to you.”

I have been gently clued in that not everything will appeal. :grinning: And I want to respect that because my good intentions can sometimes miss the mark.


Good way to find out what works and doesn’t. I started by giving my Mom a Christmas “coupon” with a list of what dishes I thought would work in her freezer that she might like. She checked off which ones she wanted to try. Chicken & White Bean Chili was a no-go for her, but the others I mentioned were favorites.


My godparents are Italian, and my godmother is fairly particular and a purist, so I’m very careful about what I give them to eat. Even though I’m a decent cook, I’m a little scared to give her anything Italian that I myself have prepared. I was thinking of buying them lasagna from Eataly, that uses bechamel, etc… LOL.

  1. Packaging things in individual serving sizes worked best for me when I was preparing food for my mom.

  2. Is fresh food an option? My mother liked salads and cut up fresh fruit. When I would bring food over for the caregivers to serve, I would prepare a couple of days worth of individual salads (with no dressing) and fruit salads.

  3. Loaf cakes (e.g., yogurt cake, banana bread) can be sliced with each slice wrapped in saran wrap. They keep well in the freezer for a sweet treat. Muffins also freeze well.


Just a quick update to say we made it to dad’s house 800-900 miles I think, made it in 12 hours 40 minutes. Did run into some freezing rain over one of the passes, but rest of trip pretty much ok. I’m soooo exhausted for various reasons, and haven’t read your replies, but looking forward to doing so tomorrow. I was sure I could get a plethora of good ideas from you all! Looking forward to cleaning up his kitchen a bit tomorrow, taking a look in his fridge, and moving forward from there. Thanks so much! :two_hearts:


Frozen fruit salad also might work for some people.