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Job as a cook in a group home

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, thanks for viewing my thread.


I recently picked up a 5 day position in a group home that consists of 9 people that have mental disabilities. They're a great charismatic group, but they're seniors and some of them have conditions that limit their diets.

My aim is to sharpen my skills while I am here by gaining knowledge of food and creating relationships with vendors. Another aspect of course is the cooking, where should I draw inspiration for recipes for this many people? Most importantly, what sort of recipes should I be looking at? They're average age group is between 50-80, with the exception of one consumer being 27.

Three consumers have conditions that limit their diets, such as GERD and GOUT. So a lot of acidity is out, and some seasonings such as black pepper or paprika for these particular consumers. Also, the end result of the food has to be cut up into 1"x1" pieces. Does anyone have experience in this field?

post #2 of 5
Is this a traditional licensed home that receives federal and/or state funding for resident care?
If so you may be getting in over your head with these special diets.
Ask the owner to show you the doctor's orders and then ask for the name and contact number for the licensed dietician that they use for consults.
You should not be responsible for the actual menus.
Stop and think.
If one of those fragile elderly residents is on a low (2 gm or less daily) sodium diet and keels over from fluid overload who do you think is going to be held responsible?

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

I appreciate your concern and I will take it into consideration, calling the dietician is a great idea.


There is essentially a "menu book" that shows exactly what the residents should eat, how they should eat it, and it's very repetitive. EDIT: (I realized how ignorant this post sounds, but for years many of the cooks before me have ordered their own food, cooked their own food, and management has been 100% ok with it as long as it meets the criteria. So if I have creative control, I would like to use it)

Other cooks are terrible, I'm talking frozen lasagna for everyone. I'm just trying to do this the right way, in a way that also gives me some creative control.

Of course their conditions are taken into consideration by me, for example... If I'm making something simple like brown rice, brocc and carrots, and chicken, I would have to seperate

one of the residents food in order to not provide spices such as paprika or black pepper due to GERD. So chicken breasts baked with just some salt, dry/fresh herbs for example.


Regardless if I follow the menu or not, changes need to be made to accommodate the residents diet. We are already informed of their conditions, what they can and cannot eat, and we also do the ordering. I'm not looking to do anything fancy, just some ideas such as desserts, dinners or snacks that they could enjoy while also being safe to eat.


Ideas such as different kinds of yogurt, a lot of chicken/pork chops/salmon are eaten by the residents. Every ingredient that is ordered is usually low-fat, no sugar, brown/whole grain


Also please keep in mind that this organization is state funded, but it is a family organization and requires audits by the state to make sure everything is order. In other words, this organization is left to be funded by tax payers while state watches once a year. The residents are typically low functional but none of them have a problem eating their consistencies (ground, puree) Some of them are capable of eating food whole and cutting their own food. Worst thing that has happened to staff is having to apply the Heimlich, but I've never had that problem during a shift because all of my food is cut down to 1x1" pieces and usually lubricated with olive oil. Other than that, one particular resident may complain of stomach aches and another lethargic resident may actually not be able to digest the food, (which can result in death) resulting in enemas if not treated properly. However, this resident has an extensive past of a redundant colon as well as avoiding death multiple times... Not to say I'm being careless, their lives are also very important to me. My intentions are pure and my craft is significant in this situation so I'm looking to get some tunnel vision here.




Some of the things they eat often to give you a better glimpse:


Breakfast at 7am: (I don't cook breakfast, only lunch, snack and dinner)

Things like fritattas, cream of wheat, oatmeal, usually heavy in carbs

But mainly eggs I would say.


Lunch at 1pm: Lunch is usually a turkey/ham sandwich with cheese and mayo/mustard, left over dinner, egg/chicken salad, water bottle, maybe a snack they bought at the store. Basically things packed into containers in a lunch box for them.


Snack at 3:30pm: Usually a lot of fruits, strawberries rasp blueberries, watermelon, honeydew, etc Yogurt, green salads

( I was thinking maybe smoothies would be a nice snack during the summer, or some fresh yogurt with fruits )


Diner at 5:30pm: Ground turkey/beef, chicken breasts, salmon, lasagna (white or red), beef chunks w/ a carb and veg. Usually served with a green salad before the meal.

I've seen a few cooks create mother sauces for them without a problem.

post #4 of 5
Thanks Chef for bringing some clarity to your opening post (which came across a tad innocent and frankly a bit cavalier)...
Over the years group homes have gained a bad reputation with bad to no owner oversite being the norm.
As an ED case manager I saw some horrifying evidence of the above and am relieved to hear that someone has a handle on things.
Yeah bland and soft and colorless.
I am having to watch my sodium intake these days and wish I had someone with fresh ideas take the reins in my kitchen as I am running out of tricks lol.
I splurged on a slice of pizza last nite and wish I had saved my splurge for something else.
Good luck and yes keep a dietician on speed dial.

post #5 of 5

My experience with seniors is that many are unwilling to try new things. I had an uncle with a developmental disability and he was particularly resistant to change as he got older. My advice would be to make changes slowly and see how they are received. The resident's acceptance of sauces seems like a good sign that they may enjoy some variety though.

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