How To Meal Prep Before Planned Surgery

fruits and veggies

Meal prepping is one of the best things you can do to prepare for a planned surgery like a knee replacement or cardiovascular surgery. It’s an easy way to make the transition home from the hospital or post-hospital rehab center a little smoother.

If you or a loved one will be having surgery soon, here are some meal prep tips to help improve the recovery process.

What To Eat After Surgery

Post-surgery diets depend on the procedure that you go in for. Check with your doctor to see what you’ll be allowed to eat. If there are any foods that you should avoid, they’ll be able to provide you with some guidance so you can plan ahead of time.

Additionally, if you’re going to be taking any prescription medications, be sure to ask your pharmacist if any foods will interact negatively with your pills. For example, some common foods that interfere with medications include grapefruit juice, leafy green vegetables and salt substitutes.

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid processed foods post-surgery, as they tend to have a lot of fat, sugar, salt and chemical additives. Eat plenty of fiber to prevent constipation, a common after-surgery complaint. You can get the necessary fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereal.

How to Meal Prep: The Basics

New to the world of meal-prep? You’ve probably heard of it before as the practice has grown in popularity in recent years, but perhaps you’ve never tried it yourself. If that’s the case, here are some tips to help you as you prepare meals for the week:

  • Start by making a calendar to plan out your meals for the week. Use your favorite recipes—there are some special recipes for easy meal-prep that you can find online, but there’s nothing wrong with using your old favorites.
  • Pick one day to make all your meals for the week. Most people prefer Sunday.
  • Try making big batches of recipes that can be incorporated with other things. For example, chef and cookbook author Pamela Salzman recommends making chili, then using it through the week either “spooned over baked sweet potatoes, on top of tortilla chips with avocado and radishes for quick nachos, or layered with corn tortillas and cheese for a Tex-Mex lasagna.”
  • While your main dish recipes are cooking, chop fruits and vegetables to use as sides or snacks.
  • Divide each part of your meals in compartmentalized, air-tight containers to keep them crisper and fresher.
  • Make time go faster with audiobooks. Check with your local library, as most allow you to check out CDs or have apps for your smartphone to listen to audiobooks for free.


Related: Ask the Expert: Types of Post-Hospital Therapy for Seniors


Meal Prep Ideas for Older Adults


Cereal can get a little dull day after day. Add some fruit to liven things up, or make a batch of breakfast egg muffins (you can find three different recipe variations here). Pancakes can also be made in advance and frozen — they reheat very well in the microwave.


Try making sandwiches or wraps and include healthy sides like salads or sliced fruit. You could also make sides like fried rice, roasted veggies or soup and spread them throughout the week.

Pasta can be a versatile meal prep tool. You can make a batch on Sunday and use different sauces to keep things interesting during the week.

And remember, meal prep works best when you use the different ingredients in multiple ways. So, for example, you could take the roasted veggies that you’re using as a side and mix them with the pasta for one meal, or take some of the fresh veggie sides and throw them in with the rice to make stir-fry.


Chicken is a popular meal-prep meat as it can be used in so many ways. If you start the week with roasted chicken, you can enjoy it on its own, use it for a sandwich, or throw it in a soup.

It’s also a lean meat, which makes it a healthy choice for your post-surgery diet. Other lean meats include turkey, pork and seafood.

However, the choice is yours. The most important thing is to cook meals that you’ll enjoy to help get your appetite back in the week following your surgery.

Some meal-preppers plan out their dinner recipes, then incorporate them into lunches. You can find a wealth of meal-prep friendly recipes online or stick with your tried-and-true favorites. You can also check out these quick and easy recipes you’ll love that we recently shared.

Making Post-Surgery Plans

We hope these meal-prep tips help improve your recovery experience. If you have a scheduled surgery coming up, there’s a lot you can do to prepare for it.

For example, if your surgery will require some therapy during your recovery, did you know that you can schedule a stay at a post-hospital rehab center? If you would like to learn more, contact us today.