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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.
- 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.
- 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
- Funky Arthur, founded by an woman with RA, sells aids to help with disability or arthritis
- Karla loves this Easi-Twist jar opener from Organize World! Lots of cool gadgets
- Kay uses the Black and Decker jar opener “every day.”
- Disabled hands comes recommended by Jules
- Rhonda says: Pampered Chef sells a wonderful and affordable bottle/jar/pop top opener.
Links for Kitchen management
- How to arrange your kitchen by Dr. Akerkar
- Yes, I know this site is sponsored by a drug company, but this is a really nice page about cooking and Rheumatoid Arthritis with Sandra Lee
Links with an Overview to RA nutrition or healthy diet ingredients
- Excellent overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Nutrition by Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Very brief outline of the issues Rheumatoid Arthritis raises regarding nutrition from eHow.com
- In depth discussion of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Nutrition on WebMD.
- Lookup the Nutrition Data of any food or find lists of which foods contain nutrients. You can even look up fast food nutrition data.
- Which foods have anti-oxidants and how much is in there? WebMD has a long list.
- Jules sent this recipe link from Weight Watchers for Pumpkin soup.
- Emma sent me these soup recipes at Fine Living. Soup is usually a healthy one-dish meal.
- A list of five-ingredient healthy recipes and a list of four-ingredient semi-homemade recipes ; and a page of links for 400 five-ingredient recipes on About.com.
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.