Working with Rheumatoid arthritis

Tips For Cooking & Entertaining

Cooking and Entertaining+

Preparing meals - even simple ones - can be a challenge when you are living with arthritis. The thought of cooking for larger groups or celebrations could feel daunting. Cooking and entertaining can be made a bit easier by following some of the tips below.

Lighten Your Load+

Using heavy cookware or appliances with fiddly attachments can put strain on your arms and wrists. If it is affordable, have a think about investing in some new kitchenware:

  • Lighter pots and pans. These can lighten the load on your joints. It can also make washing up easier.
  • Cookware with two handles. These allow for better grip and put less strain on your arms and wrists.
  • Look for appliances with user-friendly buttons and levers rather than knobs.
  • Crock pots can make one-dish meals, cutting down on the amount of moving around needed to make a meal. Ceramic interiors can be heavy though, so have a look for ones made of metal.
  • Pots with pasta strainers built in allow you to strain food straight from the pot, so you don’t have to lift and pour pots heavy with water.

Have a Seat+

Some people find it easier on their joints to sit while doing day-to-day tasks:

  • Sit down to mix, stir or chop while cooking.
  • Many DIY tasks can be done sitting down, such as cutting, measuring, sawing, or using a power tool.
  • If your work surfaces are tall – such as in the kitchen or in the garage – keep a barstool handy so you can sit while you work.
  • Find appliances or furniture with adjustable heights so that you can sit, such as an adjustable or table-top ironing board.
  • For times when you really need to be standing place a cushioned mat on the floor. The cushioning can help take some of the stress off your feet, ankles and lower back.

To Chop... Or Not+

Food preparation - particularly chopping – can be hard on stiff or sore joints.

  • Look for pre-packaged, pre-cut food. Meat, vegetables and even some fruits come pre-chopped these days. You can also use fruit or veg from the frozen food section at the supermarket – they are generally pre-chopped and have almost as many nutrients as fresh ingredients.
  • Use a food processor for grating, mincing and stirring.
  • A rocker knife or pizza wheel can give you better control when cutting and chopping.
  • Arthritis-friendly recipes are available on the internet. These recipes are designed to reduce movements like chopping, which can be difficult for people with RA.

Plan Ahead+

As arthritis can be unpredictable, it can be good to plan your meals ahead of time so that you are prepared if you are having a flare. It can also be helpful to have meals ready in the freezer for your not-so-good days.

  • Create a grocery list on your home computer of items you buy most often. You can adjust the list each time you go shopping, but you’ll also be less likely to forget any of the ‘essentials’.
  • Cook more than you need and freeze the leftovers. You’ll then have a stockpile of frozen meals ready for your not-so-good days, or days when you’re pressed for time.

Buying Groceries+

Do you dread the thought of grocery shopping because the bags are just too heavy? There are ways to make this essential task easier. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Use a shopping cart instead of a hand-held basket or your hands. It's easier on your body to push a cart than to grasp objects or carry heavy loads. If it's hard for you to grasp the cart handle, bring a towel or other cloth object to wrap around the handle for added grip.
  • Invest in your own collapsible shopping bag on wheels. You can then use it to buy your groceries and take them comfortably to the car.
  • Bring a reacher (a tool with a long handle and a gripping mechanism) to help you grab hard-to-reach items.
  • Many larger supermarkets provide electric scooters equipped with carts for customers that have difficulty carrying items or pushing a cart.
  • Most major supermarkets offer online shopping with home delivery. This may be an option if going to a supermarket is difficult for you.

Party In Style+

If a few friends are coming over or you’re having a dinner party, here are a few ideas to make things a bit easier for you:

  • Start cooking and tidying up a few days beforehand so that you can take things at a comfortable pace.
  • Ask friends and family for help, or organise a ‘pot luck’ dinner so that cooking is shared.
  • Use disposable plates, cups and utensils to save on washing up. You can also use disposable covers for your tables.
  • Set some time aside to have a rest before your guests arrive.
  • Remember, it’s all about spending time with your friends, not about being perfect.
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