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Meal kits for seniors with dietary restrictions: Gluten-free, low-sodium, and more

Shot of a happy older couple enjoying a healthy lunch together outdoors
Shot of a happy older couple enjoying a healthy lunch together outdoors Yuri Arcurs / Getty Images

A healthy diet is important at any age, but sometimes new dietary needs turn up with old age. In a perfect world, we could eat whatever we want without consequence, and this would be a very short article. Since that's not quite the case, let's talk about how to keep things fresh and healthy for every body.

Avoiding certain foods – say, tempting dishes that contain gluten or dairy – can often apply to older folks trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A good home-cooked meal is the healthiest option when dinner time rolls around, but let's be honest: Sometimes, that's just more trouble than it's worth (even when it's worth a lot).

That's where meal kits come in. Delivery services that ship pre-portioned ingredients, or whole, premade meals, directly to your door, can change how older adults deal with dietary limitations.

Jennifer May, principle nutritionist and director of Sydney City Nutritionist and Food Intolerance of Australia, lays out some of the most important elements of a good meal kit for a restrictive diet. "[Look] for key words like 'gluten-free,' 'low sodium,' or 'all natural," says May.

Most meal kit companies label meals to make it easy to find the right recipes. The more variety in a meal kit company, the likelier you are to find specific labels (think vegan, keto-friendly, low-carb or low-sugar).

Then, take it a step further.

"After checking that it meets this goal, your next step should always be to check the ingredients and nutritional values" -- and, luckily, meal kit companies have excellent reputations for making this step easy and simple. So you can trust and verify with confidence.

We put together a list of our favorite senior-friendly meal kits based on these nutritional goal posts. We also double-checked individual recipes to see what they had listed, what customization options are out there, and more. 

Top five meal kits for seniors with certain dietary restrictions

It's important to know what healthy nutritional requirements look like for seniors; our bodies (and what they need to stay healthy) change over time. With that in mind, here are our picks for the best senior-friendly meal kits for different diets.

The best meal kit delivery services support plenty of eating habits. Kits that cater specifically to seniors (either with select meal plans or through their entire menus) are no different.

The meal kits we settled on as best for senior-friendly diets have a few things in common: A ton of variety of meal types (such as fresh or frozen) and the flexibility to work with any kind of restriction.

Best meal kit for any diet: SunBasket

Orange Chicken over Brown Rice with Carrot-Apple Salad
Orange Chicken over Brown Rice with Carrot-Apple Salad SunBasket

One of the most recognizable names in healthy meal kit delivery services, SunBasket is the perfect place to start for healthy recipes that cater to certain diets. Its wholesome dishes are made of USDA-certified organic ingredients, and any meat or poultry comes from farmers and ranchers that work directly with SunBasket.

For seniors who need to stick to a diet, there are plenty of clearly labeled recipes to choose from with SunBasket. You can find keto-friendly meals that are quick and easy to prepare, such as the Catalan Chicken with Green Romesco and Spanish Green Beans.

Seniors who want to avoid dairy or soy can select such enticing dishes as the Steaks the Chimichurri and Harissa-Roasted Sweet Potatoes. That dish is also paleo-friendly and free of any gluten.

SunBasket's weekly menu provides helpful tags with each recipe that can make it easy for seniors to navigate to the food they want. There are tags for speedy dishes, spicy recipes, sugar-free or low-carb meals, and more.

SunBasket prices start at $12 per serving

Best organic meal kits for seniors: Green Chef

Salmon with Piccata Sauce roasted beets & bell pepper, sautéed kale with walnuts
Salmon with Piccata Sauce Green Chef

When it comes to organic meal kits, Green Chef stands out. It's a reliable source of nutritionist-approved meals that cater to a number of dietary restrictions. (Or, if we're being fair, just dietary preferences.) It's the first meal kit delivery service to be certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) foundation.

Seniors looking for a healthy dose of whole fruits and vegetables will find plenty of meals, such as the picture-perfect Spicy Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry or the low-calorie Cauliflower Couscous Bowls. Each quick and easy recipe comes with pre-measured ingredients for easy, breezy cooking.

While its meal kits are priced higher than some of the other companies on this list, Green Chef is no stranger to savings. At the time of this writing, the company is offering an impressive $155 discount on first-time orders, which would be spread out over your first five boxes.

This bumps down the price per serving to just over $5 a piece, so don't wait to see if Green Chef can save you money with its healthy and organic meal kits!

Green Chef prices start at $12 per serving

Best meal kits for certain health conditions: Magic Kitchen

Close up of a single serving of Mac & Cheese
Close up of a single serving of Mac & Cheese Magic Kitchen

Seniors who are tired of limited options are in luck with Magic Kitchen. This meal kit company puts older adults first with homestyle frozen meals that require next to nothing when dinnertime rolls around: Just heat up your dish (in a microwave or oven, dealer's choice) and you'll be sitting down to eat in no time at all.

Thanks to Magic Kitchen's unique Flex Subscriptions, seniors don't have to worry about complicated meal plans that are hard to get out of. They simply call a rep with Magic Kitchen to discuss dietary preferences, health needs, and how many meals will be shipped out each month. Shipping is free and you pay as you go, making Magic Kitchen a top choice thanks to its reliable customer service.

There are a number of main courses, soups, side dishes, and desserts that can be mixed and matched for every order. Complete meals usually come with a main course and two sides, but there are plenty of other options to consider: Older adults looking for single-serve meals can order à la carte, while others catering to more than one person at the dinner table can opt for the family-size portions. 

Magic Kitchen prices start at $5 per serving

Best plant-based meal kits for seniors: Splendid Spoon

Vegan Chick'n Parm Dish with red lentil penne & green beans
Vegan Chick'n Parm Dish Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is a health-focused meal kit delivery service that serves up dozens of plant-based meals. Each recipe offers a healthy mix of protein, fats and carbs, making this an ideal choice for older adults (and anyone, really) that want to make the switch to better eating.

Whether it's being prepared right out of the box (and ready within minutes, at that!) or stored in the fridge for use throughout the week, each meal is satisfying and nutritionally complete. Alongside meals like the Roasted Tomato Risotto Dish and the Creamy Butternut Squash Noodles, you can also find hearty soups, stews, and grain bowls.

Splendid Spoon also offers smoothies that are as tasty as they are healthy. Add a Blue Majik Smoothie with dates and cinnamon to your order as an added treat, or get your daily dose of fruits with the exotic Pineapple Passion Fruit Smoothie with sea buckthorn berry and tocos.

With prices starting at $9 per serving, Splendid Spoon can be more budget-friendly than other meal kits that are entirely plant-based. It also offers a number of different plan options to choose from. Interested in ordering breakfast and lunch options alongside your weekly dinner recipes? Want to fill your fridge for the week with a bulk assortment of soups, grain bowls, smoothies, and more? Splendid Spoon has you covered.

Splendid Spoon prices start at $9 per serving

Best meal kits for lean eating: Trifecta Nutrition

Overhead view of eight various single serving meals showcasing a mix of proteins, vegetables, and rice
Overhead view of eight various single serving meals showcasing a mix of proteins, vegetables, and rice Trifecta Nutrition

Trifecta Nutrition offers meal kits with a lean lifestyle in mind. In fact, it has it all: a registered dietitian to help you with your eating goals, personalized meal plans to match your fitness desires, and even a mobile app (available on Android or iPhone) for the tech-savvy seniors out there.

This meal kit company is a favorite among athletes, so there are few better choices out there for fitness-friendly eating. Trifecta Nutrition's weekly meals are macro-balanced and broken down into different diet-friendly plans: There are keto and paleo-friendly options, as well as high-protein vegan and vegetarian.

Trifecta Nutrition is perfect for seniors who are passionate about sticking to a lean diet, so its weekly offerings are less about meal variety and more about meeting daily and weekly nutrition goals. Older adults looking for lean diet options should start here.

Trifecta Nutrition prices start at $11 per serving

How to choose the best senior meal kit for restrictive diets

There are a number of things worth considering when considering meal kits for a particular diet. You want a reliable meal delivery service that balances satisfying and interesting meals with plans centered around clean eating and healthy living.

The first step is to figure out your dietary needs. Do you need to avoid certain foods? Are you interested in switching to a plant-based diet? Each meal kit company approaches dietary restrictions a little differently, so know your own wants and needs before comparing different companies.


Some things to keep in mind when checking out different meal kits are:

  • Preferences and restrictions: If there are certain foods you avoid for health-related reasons, start there when comparing meal kits.
  • Substitutions and alternative recipes: Keep an eye out for meal kits that let you swap out default meals for a plant-based version. If you wanted to swap out the protein in a dish for a meatless alternative, for example, is there an easy way to do that?
  • Meal plans: The best meal kit delivery service will have multiple options that cater to a number of dietary preferences and restrictions.
  • Organic ingredients: Choose meal kits that advertise their meals as made with certified organic ingredients to ensure a healthy and nutritious meal every time.

How meal kits can help seniors with restricted diets

Following a restrictive diet can be difficult for anybody, but the struggle can be worse with older adults.

"If you're a senior living on a restricted diet, it can be tough to find delicious and nutritious meals that don't involve gluten," dietitian Reda Elmardi says. "Fortunately . . . there are many different gluten-free meal kit options available." 

Elmardi went on to list some easy and flavorful gluten-free ideas: banana nut muffins, vegetable curry rogan josh, and black bean burrito bowls. Green Chef has that last one covered with a black bean and corn burrito bowl recipe you can try today, plus there are several variations and similar dishes to vegetable curry josh out there (like this Coconut Vegetable Curry from Blue Apron). You can find more nutrition, fitness guidance, and general health expertise on Elmardi's own website,  

Another reason to consider senior-friendly meal kits, like those listed above, is the variety of dishes to choose from. Seniors that live alone or who don't (or can't) cook for themselves may be tired of repeat meals and food that starts to all look the same, so switching it up with a meal delivery service can really liven things up come dinnertime.

How we compared senior meal kits with certain dietary needs

When taking a look at what each meal kit company has to offer, we focused on a few key things. Easily navigated menus, a straightforward signup process (with wiggle room for order pauses and easy cancellations), and clearly indicated recipe ingredients were all high on our list of priorities.

A few more important things we considered:

  • Variety: We looked for meal kits that catered to all kinds of diets and restrictions, with weekly menus that offered plenty of satisfying recipes.
  • Organic ingredients: Every meal kit company on this list is committed to shipping sustainably sourced, organic ingredients with every delivery.
  • Customer service: Sometimes, part of the hassle of sticking to a diet is the ordering process itself. We made sure to highlight companies that are easy to navigate – and more likely to offer a representative for additional help when you need it.
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