Kitchen Management Tips and Really Helpful Links

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RA Kitchen Management tips

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Really Helpful RA Kitchen tools 

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RA Kitchen Management Tips

  • Use a mini food processor / bullet chopper and you’ll only ever have to roughly cut. Pulse with a little soapy water to clean.
  • Buy frozen vegetables which are all prepped for you. Even green peppers and onions come pre-chopped for use when you cannot cut or do not have someone to chop for you.
  • Grab help when it’s available – even if it’s for a future meal. If someone is in the kitchen to make coffee, ask him to open a can, slice the tomatoes, or peel the onions you need later.
  • Leave a medium / large multi-purpose pan on the stove so don’t have to get it out. Buy one you think is pretty and easy to lift.
  • Team cook: You play executive chef. Let family members be sous-chefs to chop, peel, open cans, grate…
  • Always “cook” at least enough food for 2 meals. Cuts the number of times you have to really “cook” in half.
  • Use a lightweight jelly-roll pan with easy to grab edges underneath any pie pan or pan that’s hard to grab onto.
  • Get a large counter-top oven / toaster oven if your large oven is not at a good height for you to lift pans in and out.
  • A wheeled utility cart can help move heavy things around.
  • If you cannot dump a hot pot of boiling pasta to drain it, turn the water off 30 seconds early and use a screen scoop or slotted spoon to remove pasta from pot.
  • Keep a pair of comfortable scissors in the kitchen to open packages and bags. Don’t try to pull them open.
  • If you want to cook, have someone get out all ingredients & tools for you ahead of time. It is incredible how much strength (both constitutional strength & hand / arm strength) you can lose with this pre-cooking work. If there is no one to do this for you, you can do it for yourself ahead of time. When it’s time to cook, it is almost like you had help.
  • Instead of buying flaxseed meal, you can buy the seeds whole which last longer on the shelf. To grind them, pulse a containerful in a coffee grinder.
  • Consider not peeling potatoes, carrots, etc. Scrub off with scouring pads in warm water. Thepeels are healthy anyway.
  • One dish meals and casseroles are back in style.
  • Folks have also left some good ideas on the RA Warrior blog here.

Kate’s tips:

  • Organization is foremost! My corner cabinets have turntables. The lower ones pull out.
  • Things are arranged by how I use them. If it’s rarely used, I put it on top shelves. Things I use every day are on the shelves I can reach.
  • In the refrigerator: its nuts if I have to pick up eggs to get the milk! I keep things I use most in front. Store less frequently used things in back and bottom.
  • I work in stages when I am able. I may prep for part of a meal at a time. I use prep bowls. If I have a particularly good day, I may do the prep for several days in advance.
  • I wipe up messes quickly before something hardens on to need scrubbing.
  • For baking: my husband collects my ingredients into a shopping basket. Then, when I am able, I can prepare dough and refrigerate it. I bake it later.

Shannon’s tips:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with easy to make dinner essentials. Pasta and jarred sauce can sit in your cupboard for months yet can make a quick dinner.
  • Use online recipe exchange sites such as http://www.allrecipes.com to save your favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. These also come in handy when planning ahead for meals.
  • Do your grocery shopping online! Many stores now deliver orders as fast as 24-36 hours for a reasonable fee. Some stores (such as Albertson’s) will assemble your order for you and have it ready for pick up at your local store.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you aren’t feeling up to cooking dinner! Occasional take-out is not going to ruin your family’s diet. Throw a blanket on the living room floor, have dinner delivered and enjoy an indoor picnic! To make clean-up extra easy, ask the restaurant to include disposable plates, napkins and silverware. Your kids will always remember the “indoor picnic dinner”, not the fact that you weren’t up to cooking dinner!

 

Really helpful Links for the RA Kitchen

Links for really helpful tools

Links for Kitchen management

Links with an Overview to RA nutrition or healthy diet ingredients

Recipe Links

 

Really helpful tools

  • The favorite pans may be too heavy now. Many decide that even beautiful French cookware is just not RA friendly. Find something that you are able to move off of a burner safely in emergencies.
  • A convection toaster oven is a wonderful all-purpose oven. Things cook quickly and it is easier to clean.
  • If you must peel, use a palm peeler. There is less strain on fingers.
  • Extra large oven mitts protect weakened clumsy hands.
  • A crock-pot is a great substitute for a Dutch oven which must be lifted from counter to stove to oven.
  • Kate loves her All-Clad pans because they are lightweight enough to lift, but “heavy duty enough for real cooking.” Non-stick, dishwasher safe.
  • Parchment paper and aluminum foil keep pans cleaner for less work.
  • Gel floor mats cushion painful feet. Home improvement stores also sell gray ones which are much cheaper. I’ve used these for over 10 years.
  • Vote for your favorite tool. Send in a suggestion.

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10 thoughts on “Kitchen Management Tips and Really Helpful Links

  • January 6, 2010 at 10:38 am
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    I found Corning Ware this past weekend…Corning Ware LITE!!
    I loved my Corning Ware and hate that all the things I had gotten as wedding gifts are sooo heavy and I can’t use them now. I’ve given a lot of it to my cousin when she moved into her apartment.

    Reply
  • March 25, 2010 at 10:35 am
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    I have had RA for over 20 years and hubby has extreme pain in his right shoulder and back. We both like cooking, but often don’t have the energy. Still, we need to eat! So we’ve developed some tricks to stay nourished when we aren’t up to doing much.

    I break up the kitchen/cooking tasks so I can do a little at a time then take a rest or switch to a different activity. It can make a huge difference!

    Roasts are great – very little prep work. We are very fond of slow roasted pork at 250 degrees for 8 hours or so, roasted over a pan of apple juice. Then we shred the warm meat and have oodles of meat for fajitas, tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.

    Any meat that I don’t have to cut up is a bonus. Chicken pieces, pork chops, steaks, shrimp (uncooked for recipes, tail off for ease), fish … you get the idea.

    We do a lot of shopping at Costco and I joke that we’ve gotten really good at eating from their freezer aisles. But I’m not joking. Frozen hamburger patties, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and hamburger buns (toast in broiler) = easy restaurant quality burgers.

    My latest discovery is Costco’s frozen chicken breast tenders. These are boneless and skinless white meat, in strips suitable for many dishes such as fajitas, grilled or baked with or without sauce or marinade, use for soups (I’m hoping to do a white chicken chili sometime soon). I like just pan frying them and dipped them with a fork in a garlic dipping sauce. Easier than shish kebabs, feeds like a meal but makes me feel like I got to snack. The strips are a little dry when baked, so try to use a moist cooking method or a marinade.

    Caesar salad is easy to make with the hearts of romaine packages, and even easier with the clear boxes of pre-cut romaine. Add Caesar dressing, grated parmesan (we love the real stuff, parmigiano reggiano – use a food processor to do the grating), and croutons and you are done and have fresh leafy vegetables in your diet. And you can also add those chicken strips, strips of steak or other lean meat, shrimp, fish, whatever and have a nice Caesar salad as a elegant and substantial meal by itself. Yum!

    Frozen meatballs also make easy meals. Add some into a saucepan with a jar of spaghetti sauce, cooks some spaghetti, and you have some old fashioned comfort food. You can also make sweet and sour meatballs, swedish meatballs, barbecue meatballs … almost any sauce will work. Serve with rice for a switch from pasta. Cook in a crockpot for low maintenance and to cook ahead.

    Steamed broccoli and steamed asparagus are a couple more green veggies that take little prep work to eat fresh.

    Instant mashed potatoes are far far easier than the real thing. It’s also easy to add all sorts of flavorings, like garlic or cheese or whatever suits your fancy. We also buy the bulk gravy mixes (chicken and beef flavors) so mashed potatoes and gravy are always easy.

    Eggs are inexpensive and quick to make. Scrambled eggs are the easiest; fried eggs are easy too. I love poached eggs, healthy and also easy (use a teaspoon of white vinegar in the water to keep the eggs from running). If you prep extra veggies, you can use them for omelettes, or just scramble with the eggs.

    I also like to have packages of sliced ham so I can have presliced ham and presliced cheese ready for ham and cheese sandwiches in a hurry.

    We do have an extra freezer so that helps a lot. I put four hamburger buns flat in each gallon size Ziploc bag and freeze them flat and stacked. (Ziploc bags are bought in bulk in freezer quart and gallon sizes, they have so many uses!) They thaw quickly on the counter or in the microwave if needed immediately. Four is a manageable unit for our small family, and the cost or the 24 pack is about what a good pack of 8 costs at the grocery store. Bonus – They don’t go bad sitting on my counter, and it takes awhile before we have to buy buns again.

    Using ziploc bags for marinades saves on dishes, as does using them for prepped food (cut onions, cut peppers, etc).

    By buying in bulk, we avoid having to shop as often and part of our shopping plan is to grab something easy for dinner (including takeout) so we can concentrate on the work of unloading and putting away the groceries. Refrigerated items and frozen goods get handled first; dry goods often sit for days before they get put away. The extra work is worth it when we don’t have to go to the store for anything except fresh milk. That saves us energy and time!

    I hadn’t meant to write so much, but I hope some of these tips help someone else!

    Reply
  • January 23, 2011 at 6:26 am
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    Another item I consider essential in my kitchen drawer is a pair of pliers. They help me grasp the tiny little pieces on the foil seal on things like the ketsup bottle, maple syrup bottle and on some medicine containers. If you have to puncture a hole in the medicine bottle protective cover you can also use the pliers to help pull that off, too.

    Reply
    • January 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm
      Permalink

      Good one. I’d like to find one w/soft rubber handles for emergencies. Sometimes they are too heavy but a great tool idea.

      Reply
    • October 6, 2011 at 12:07 am
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      Jill,
      for those seals, I use a seam ripper ($1 in walmarts craft department)
      i have one at every work station, and will often go for that than scissors.
      The handle can be enlarged with tube insulation from any hope improvement store and clued with hot glue, or if need be riveted onto a 90 degree handle.

      Reply
  • October 6, 2011 at 12:01 am
    Permalink

    Hello,
    My biggest help has been my drafters chair – it lets me sit at counter height and work. I am rather tall (6′) and sitting down doing the stuff in the kitchen makes it more likely to happen.
    An old family friend, now deceased, has RA while I was growing up, and she had a set of knives where the handle was perpendicular to the blade – she could cut by sticking hand in handle, and just move the knife back and forth. She had a drafters chair too, and an office chair for when she was at the dinner table.
    When I am frustrated by an obstacle, most frequently my old friend had a solution or at least a way to make things easier. Not all tools need to be expensive to work.
    My mandolin from Oxo (20 dollars) and my mini-chopper ($10 at walmart) and then giving my permission to not do a task are the most important tips I can think of

    Reply
  • December 18, 2011 at 8:36 am
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    Here’s another helpful tip. When the pharmacy forgets that you cannot open “child resistant” medication caps, (and you don’t have a child there to open it for you) put your Rx bottle into a sock and use a vice in the garage to crush the container. You will need a new container, but if you are like me, I’m sure you have an empty pill bottle lurking around somewhere.

    Reply
  • February 7, 2014 at 10:00 am
    Permalink

    Microfiber cloths and towels.

    I have discovered I can actually get most of the water out of these much more easily than conventional cloths. I use them in the kitchen and bathroom. Especially any washcloth.

    They dry much faster and if you can’t wring them out at all, they drip dry in half the time of a regular cloth.

    I hope this helps someone that was a frustrated as I was.

    Oh, if you throw them in the microwave and warm them up, they dry even faster.

    Reply

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