Handy Hints

Arthritis can sometimes make cooking a bit of a challenge. Swollen fingers, painful wrists and feeling wiped out are enough to put off even the most enthusiastic cook. But, there are things you can do to make life easier:

Chopping,cutting and mixing
  • A stick blender and a food processor are brilliant if you find chopping difficult. You can also get little mechanical choppers that you just push down on (with a forearm or palm) and they chop up onions, herbs, nuts etc.
  •  If you find grating a challenge try some gadgets! There are some nice rotary graters where you just crank the handle and a grating drum rotates.
  • A milk frother is very lightweight and great for beating eggs for omelettes or mixing sauces and marinades
  • Pop a cloth under your bowl to stop it sliding around so you can use both hands to mix
  • Get a friend to hammer a couple of rust proof nails into a chopping board for you – you can then spear potatoes on it when chopping or use a carving board
  • Try a mezzaluna – it's a knife that you rock with both hands and is great for chopping herbs, nuts etc
  • Soften vegetables by partly microwaving or baking whole before chopping up. Try piercing the skin of a butternut squash in a couple of places and then baking for 45 minutes before cutting up
  • Check out the no-chop recipes here

Pans and draining
  • Lighter pans with double handles are easier to use
  • Learn to love your microwave – you can easily steam vegetables and fish, make porridge and reheat things in the microwave without needing to mess around with boiling water and pans
  • Get a sieve that hooks over the sink or a colander that you can stand in it
  • Try fishing veg out of boiling with a draining spoon then letting the water cool before you empty the pan
  • Slide pans along the work surface rather than lift them


Baking and roasting
  • Try silicone bakeware for an easy to clean and handle alternative to heavy tins
  • If your grip isn’t very strong, put cake pans on a baking sheet and use that to transfer them in and out of the oven
  • Roast joints of meat in foil pans, you can pop them in the dishwasher to clean and they are very light to lift
  • Keep a liner sheet at the bottom of your oven so spills don't lead to hours of scrubbing

Be prepared
  • Cook up extras of your favourite dishes and freeze them for when you are worn out and don’t fancy cooking from scratch. I often do double quantities then put the leftovers in disposable foil containers (like those you get from the takeaway)
  • Ready-meals aren’t evil if you pick carefully: try to pick ones lower in saturated fat, salt and sugar and aim to have at least one portion of vegetables alongside them
  • Prepared vegetables are really handy but more expensive: try cutting up veg when you are feeling well (or set your significant-other/teenager/ food processor to work) and then bagging them up for the freezer. Carrots, squash, leeks etc all freeze well
  • Shop online. It is quick, easy and saves lugging about bags of groceries
  • Keep a well stocked cupboard full of basics for when shopping is tricky and use light canisters with easy to remove tops
  • Arrange your kitchen so it suits your needs – it’s amazing how many of us have things in awkward places just because that’s where they have always gone. Put heavy things in the mid height cupboards so you don't need to lift them too far and make sure anything you use frequently is easily accessible
And, most importantly of all, don't be too hard on yourself. Cups get cracked, sauces spilled and biscuits burnt. There will be days when it is all a struggle but there will also be days when you will be cooking with arthritis and enjoying every minute of it. If you have a great tip, please do share it in the comments section on this page.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the ideas. I use an egg slicer to cut small things up. It's really easy.

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  2. Hi Clara, that's a good idea. Does it work for things like onions or only softer things?

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  3. Hi Kate,
    Have just read the Daily Mail article. I have severe RSI and tennis elbow problems, which have really affected my right hand in particular (I am right handed so this is problematic!). I really struggle to cook and cannot chop, stir, handle pots and then use a knife and fork to actually eat what I have cooked! I really miss cooking and baking and have not been able to do it for several years now. I love these tips!!
    I have a special kettle which does not get too hot on the outside so I can pick it up with both hands, it was worth the extra money.
    cheers,
    Jemma in Twickenham

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  4. Hi Jemma,
    Thanks for stopping by. So sorry to hear about your right arm, it must make things very difficult (I wish they had a better name than tennis and golfers elbow!). I hope you find some tips that help and I love the sound of your kettle.

    Kate

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  5. I, too, have psoriatic arthritis, and have found a good pair of kitchen shears works wonders. I cut plastic bags open, meat packages open, herbs into small pieces, etc.

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  6. I have Psoriatic Arthritis also, have very little strength in my hands. Also have torn rotator cuff in left shoulder, so can't reach up to get, or put away dishes in the second shelf of cabinets. So I hand wash most cups asnd bowls and flatware and store them in the dishwasher. Sounds crazy, but otherwis it would take a week to accuulate enough to run them in the dishwasher.
    I use the microwave all the time, seldom use a burner on the stove. I saute chopped veggies in the microwave, they never get burnt and then they are ready to add to omelets, soups, stews, whatever. I have a mini-chopper I use for the veggies. Also use it to chop chicken to make chicken salad, or to add it to soups, salad, whatever. I could go on and on, have just changed ways of doing many things to make it easier for me. I buy a few prepared, frozen meals for times when I just can't make a meal. Good luck all, don't give up!
    Loret, in USA

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Loret, these are great tips and ideas for people. Thanks for sharing them. I love my microwave too - it makes veggie cooking so much easier.

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  7. Hi I have osteo-arthritis which began very young as a side effect of the very loose joints caused by my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. When cooking things that will need draining, such as pasta or potatoes, I use 2 small pans instead of one big one, and drain half at a time. Also, I find sawing with a serrated edge like a bread knife easier than a straight edge. Great site Kate, thank you.

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