Cooking a meal should be pretty straight forward, right?! For those of us who live with a chronic pain condition such as fibromyalgia, we must adjust how we work in the kitchen. Preparing a meal becomes very intimidating and exhausting. I have had to make several adjustments in the kitchen be able to get meals cooked.
Kitchen hacks for those with chronic pain:
1. Anti-fatigue mats. I have two of these mats in my kitchen. I was reluctant to spend the money on them, because I didn’t know if it would actually help me. Anti-fatigue mats help reduce fatigue on your legs and body. By reducing the fatigue, you prevent or at least minimize the pain levels. I found out how quickly these mats work. With the mat I am able to stand longer to cook or wash dishes then without the mat. If I do not use the mat my legs get weak, feet sore and my shoulders and back begin to hurt. I highly recommend the mats.
2. Food processor. I recently bought an electric food processor after having a discussion with an occupational therapist. This processor has made a huge difference for meal prep. Before I could not shred a block of cheese by hand. It would cause instant pain in my hands and wrists. The pain that throbs deep down to the bone. With the processor, the cheese is done being shredded in no time and I do not have any pain as a result. If you spend a decent amount of money on a processor, it will come with many different functions such as shredding, chopping and dicing. I even used my processor to slice potatoes. Again, done within a few minutes, and no pain resulted.
3. Electric can opener. I bought an electric can opener a few weeks ago. It is much easier than using an opener you have to manually twist. Another hack to avoid the wrist and hand pain.
4. Slow cooker/ crock pot. These are often recommended because you can cook a whole meal in it. I often cook a roast, potatoes and carrots – easy meal to throw in the pot and set the timer. No need to stand in front of it while it cooks. I often forget to pull my slow cooker out to use, but it would make life so much easier. There are so many recipes for slow cooked meals online.
4. Jar opener tool. I bought one of these from Amazon and it makes jars so easy to open. If you are like me, I no longer have the hand strength to open jars, so this tool comes in handy. People with arthritic hands could also benefit from using this jar opening tool.
5. Utilize sitting down to do meal prep. I often will take whatever ingredients I’m preparing and sit at the table instead of standing. It is less stress to my legs, back, neck and shoulders. Sitting and cutting veggies for a soup is much easier sitting down.
6. Rice cooker. Using a rice cooker instead of cooking rice on a stove top is so much easier. Add the rice, water, any spices you may add to your rice and plug it in and wait for the rice to cook. Rice cookers usually indicate when they are done. Mine clicks over to warm, but it clicks loud enough you can hear it.
7. Rocking knives. I haven’t bought one yet, but I have spoken to others who have, and they find these knives much easier to handle. Instead of a chopping motion, you rock the knife to cut. These knives are often recommended for people with arthritic hands too. I’ve been looking at the different brands on amazon, but I have yet to order one. Check it out!
8. Double handled pots. I’ve often seen pots in the store with a handle on each side of the pot. These would be ideal to use for people with hand pain. My pots only have one handle, but I often think buying a few extra pots that have two handles would be safer. I have a difficult time lifting pots off the stove to drain the water out. Having two handles would make it easier to lift the pot and much safer.
9. Mixing machine. I own a Kitchen Aid mixing machine. It comes with three different mixers which comes in handy depending on what you are making. These machines cut down the time it takes to manually mix by hand and make baking easier. The one good thing about the Kitchen Aid mixers – there are so many attachments you can purchase to go with the mixer – even a food processor. There are also handheld mixing machines that would also work- less stress on your wrists and lower opportunity for pain levels to go higher.
10. Cook extra food. When I cook meals such as spaghetti or soups, I will cook enough to be able to have left overs for the next day. This way I can have a break from cooking. On my good days where the pain is lower and fatigue is bearable, I will also do some meal prep and freeze these meals. The meals can be taken out and thawed on days that I can’t function enough to cook. I often make Shepards pie, chicken pot pie, and lasagna to freeze. By doing so, this gives me six meals to quickly take out to thaw and eat. Theres many meals you can prepare ahead and freeze them!
With the new counter-top cooking appliances coming out it becomes easier to cook one pot meals very quickly, even from a frozen state. I keep looking into getting a Ninja Foodi 6 in 1 appliance. This appliance can become an air fryer, pressure cooker, steam, bake and roast. It will remain on my wish list for a while as they are fairly pricy. Do you have any kitchen hacks to make it easier cooking with chronic pain?!?
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