Dietitian-Approved Menus and Processed Foods


Many dietitian-approved menus incorporate processed foods.

Dietitian-Approved Menus and Processed Foods

Although that’s probably what you expected to learn, processed foods have a negative reputation – and undeservedly so. Almost every food is processed in some way. You could even say that anything that isn’t served in its original form has been processed. And, by that standard, simple, healthy options like applesauce and olive oil qualify.

Of course, not all foods are processed to the same degree. Some products, like potato chips and candy, should only be enjoyed in moderation; however, “processed” does not automatically equate to “unhealthy.”

Let’s look at which types of processed foods fit into healthy, dietitian-approved menus.

Minimally Processed Foods

Dietitian-approved menu plans often incorporate foods that are minimally processed. Roasted, chopped nuts and coffee beans frequently fir this description, as do washed and packaged fruits and veggies, such as bagged salad and pre-cut apple slices.

Foods Processed at the Peak of Freshness

Fresh is preferable for some produce, but canned, frozen and pre-packaged single-ingredient options are available all year long. And, the minimal processing locks in nutrients at their peak. Assisted living facilities often rely on jarred, canned and frozen fruits, veggies, beans and meats for their food menu preparation.

Foods Processed with Ingredients to Boost Flavor and Texture

Some pre-packaged foods combine specific ingredients to enhance flavor and texture. Many of these food options – including spice mixes, salad dressings and pasta sauces – can make dietitian-approved meal planning and preparation easier for adult care centers.

Ready-to-Eat Foods that Need Little to No Preparation

Ready-to eat foods can be high in salt, fat and calories. However, some options fit well with healthy residential care menus. Assisted living centers frequently serve breakfast cereals, nut butters, jams, crackers, yogurt and many other ready-to-use food options.

Foods Packaged to Save Time

Pre-made meals like frozen pizzas, casseroles and pot pies can save adult care centers time. But, unless the meals are made using healthy recipes that feature whole ingredients or those that are minimally processed, many facilities avoid these food products.

Using Processed Foods in Dietitian-Approved Menus

Generally speaking, dietitian-approved menus aim to keep most ingredients for meals as close as possible to their natural state. Heavily processed foods with long lists of unpronounceable ingredients are best avoided whenever possible.

Serving nutrient-rich meals using only the right types of processed foods can provide many health benefits for residents of adult care centers and assisted living facilities. However, planning meals to meet everyone’s dietary needs can be a challenge – and that’s where Grove Menus comes in.

With our cost-effective suite of user-friendly food menu program tools, creating nutritious meal solutions is an easy and cost-effective process. To schedule a complimentary, no-obligation demonstration of the Grove Menus meal planning system, including dietitian-approved menus, contact us today.