Meals and meals services
If you are experiencing health problems and are struggling to get out to the shops, or to prepare healthy meals for yourself at home, there will be ways in which you can overcome these difficulties.
If you are struggling to get to the shops, or to prepare food, you may be struggling with other things too. With the right help and advice there is a good chance that you can become more independent - take a look at the following pages for ideas:
On this page we have provided some suggestions on how you can continue to access a healthy, balanced diet, and to enjoy your food, even if you find it hard to get out and about, or are no longer able to prepare a meal for yourself.
There are a whole range of gadgets and devices which have been specially designed to allow people with disabilities and health problems to be more independent in the kitchen. You may find that these can make all the difference in allowing you to prepare food for yourself rather than relying on others to do it for you.
Go to our Equipment to help at home page to see what's available.
If you are finding it difficult to prepare a hot main meal for yourself, and you are able to use an oven or microwave, you could consider buying ready meals.
These meals come already made up and simply need cooking or heating up in the cooker or microwave. They come chilled or frozen and you can buy them from any supermarket, online or even over the phone (see below).
Ready meals cater for people with all dietary needs. These can include diabetic, low fat, low salt, low sugar, gluten free, vegetarian, and egg free meals.
Although ready meals can be very handy, you should always read the label to make sure you're maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
If you are having trouble getting out and about there are ways to ensure that you get the food and other shopping which you need.
Community shopping and other transport services
Many councils run a Community Shopping Service which will help you to get safely to and from the shops.
Help from your supermarket or local store
Many of the big supermarkets will help you shop if you have difficulties - either by escorting you around the supermarket if you are using a wheelchair, or by collecting the products for you. Contact the supermarkets direct to find out more.
And some local food shops will deliver food to your home for a small charge - give them a ring and see what they say.
Alternatively most of the big supermarkets have a home shopping delivery service which you can access on-line:-
- Marks and Spencer
(Sainsburys also have their Assisted Shopping service)
Deliveries from local restaurants
You may be aware that many local restaurants will deliver take-away food to your door.
Getting someone else to help
Don't be shy of asking trusted friends or neighbours to collect shopping for you; many will be very happy to help and will be pleased to be asked.
Or you can arrange for someone to go with you to the shops, or to do your shopping for you - see our Support in your home page for information on how to arrange this.
The following are just some of the companies found online who can deliver batches of frozen meals to your door:
- Sodexo can deliver frozen meals, hot daily meals, and daily tea-time snacks across Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea.
- Wiltshire Farm Foods can deliver batches of frozen meals to your home on a regular basis, and provide a wide variety of options for people with different tastes or dietary needs
- Appetito deliver hot daily meals, or frozen meals in batches, to your door.
All these companies offer special diets for people with food allergies and intolerances.
Hammersmith & Fulham now offer a £2 a home meal service for it's older residents. To see if you are eligible to apply for this, please contact H&F Advice.
If you are unable to heat up frozen meals yourself, and have no-one to prepare meals for you, you may be able to receive assistance from your local council's meals service (often called 'Meals on Wheels'). These meals services will bring a pre-prepared hot meal to your home at lunchtime each day.
Depending on the overall level of support that you need you may be eligible for a meal service following an assessment from your local council. If you are eligible for a meal service, there is a charge towards the cost of the meal.
Meals services from your council offer special diets for people with food allergies and intolerances, and people with specific medical needs, and often have special menus for people with particular cultural or religious requirements.
If you are living alone and are isolated from family and friends then the people who deliver your meal will keep an eye for you, and can let others know if you are experiencing any problems.
Food poverty, social isolation and unemployment are sadly affecting a lot of people across the UK at the moment. Some people end up being unable to afford to buy food for themselves and their loved ones. There are some organisations out there who can help if you find yourself in this situation.
The Trussell Trust foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK.
Foodbanks in the local area include:
FoodCycle is a UK charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.
The Food Chain exists to ensure people living with HIV in London can access the nutrition they need to get well, stay well and lead healthy, independent lives.
They deliver meals and groceries, offer cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities to people living with HIV in London and their dependents.