Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Quick and Easy Meals
Chronic pain can make preparing meals challenging and time-consuming. Pain and fatigue increase when shopping for groceries, opening jars and cans, slicing and dicing ingredients, lifting heavy pots and pans, and standing for long periods. However, several steps can be taken to make meal preparation faster, simpler, and more enjoyable.
Six tips for quick and easy meals include the following:
- Purchase kitchen tools that are easy to use. Examples include “rocker” knives, electric food processor, electric can opener, and items with easy grip or non-slip handles. Lightweight pots and pans with two handles are good alternatives for heavy and bulky cookware.
- Buy pre-cut ingredients. If you have weakness or pain in the hands or wrists, chopping ingredients (e.g., potatoes, squash, carrots, fresh fruits, etc.) is difficult. Purchasing pre-cut items from the produce department or frozen section of the grocery store prevents additional pain, while saving time and energy.
- Sit on a stool while preparing and cooking meals. Standing at the counter or stove for long periods of time increases pain and fatigue. Sitting on a stool takes pressure off of joints, making cooking easier and more relaxing.
- Use a slow cooker. Slow cookers are great for hands-off cooking. Many slow-cooker meals involve simply adding all ingredients to the cooking pot and setting it to a low temperature to cook over a period of time.
- Consider doubling the amount of food prepared. Foods that freeze or store well can be doubled to make an extra batch for later. Leftovers and frozen foods are great options for days when pain levels and fatigue are high.
- Think about clean-up ahead of time. A challenging part of mealtime is the clean-up process. Purchasing dishwasher-safe cooking tools, dishes, and utensils is beneficial. You can also minimize clean-up by placing aluminum foil on baking sheets, using cupcake and slow-cooker liners, and cooking one-pot meals.