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When you live with chronic pain or any chronic illness, cooking can be challenging. Having to stand in the kitchen for prolonged periods can exhaust you and brain fog can also make it difficult to remember or follow a recipe. So instead we say f**k it and order a takeaway instead.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, that’s why I’ve put together a list of helpful cooking hacks that will make cooking easier and cause less stress.
12 COOKING HACKS FOR PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC PAIN
1. PLAN AND PREP YOUR MEALS
Meal prepping is really useful, the idea is to plan and prep your meals ahead of time, and you can do it in different ways. Whether it be fully cooked meals for the week, partially preparing meals or doing the prep work for meals.
Meal prepping can be really beneficial for those of us with chronic pain, and it’s one of my top cooking hacks. The whole idea is, rather than scrambling to find something to eat whilst you’re in agony, have it already prepped and avoid making your pain worse by forcing yourself into chef mode.
Meal prepping is great, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Be mindful of your pain and don’t overcomplicate things by giving yourself too much to do.
You don’t have to have a three course meal for dinner every day, you can choose to have a simple pasta dish that you eat for lunch for a few days in a row, that’s totally fine! Or maybe you only meal prep your lunches, that’s okay too, do whatever will benefit you the most,
Don’t overstretch yourself!
Remember to pace yourself for the prep, cooking, and grocery shopping. It may sound like a headache preparing all of your meals for the week in one go, but there are ways to make things easier and benefit you in the long run.
- Use a meal planner – Meal planners are really handy and they come in all different varieties. Whether it’s an app, a notebook or meal planner sheet, there are so many options. Having a meal planner of some sort will allow you to write and remember your meal plan and will also help you create an accurate shopping list.
If you think a meal planner will make things a little easier for you, download my free weekly meal planner.
- Meal prepping saves time and money – You can buy only what you need, meaning less waste. You can save a lot of time by choosing one day out of the week to prepare your meals, so all you have to do is heat them up and enjoy.
- Choose healthier options – When you’re amid a flare-up and don’t have the energy cook, takeaways and fast food seem to be the next best option to keep hunger at bay, but it isn’t the healthiest option. Meal prepping will allow you to plan out some nutritious meals to avoid UberEATS every day. You’re much less likely to choose the unhealthy option when you have a healthy meal already prepared.
2. ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE
Who doesn’t love the convenience of online shopping?! No ridiculously long queues or having to drag yourself around the store when you feel like crap.
Grocery shopping when you have chronic pain is exhausting. It takes up so much energy walking around the store, trying to remember what you need to buy or having to sit down every few minutes.
It’s important to preserve as much energy as you can, so take advantage of the wonders of technology. Take advantage of online grocery shopping or click and collect, it will benefit you in the long run.
3. COOK SIMPLE MEALS
Chronic pain can make it really hard to focus or remember things which, as I previously mentioned, can make it hard to remember a recipe or think of something to cook on the spot.
Go online and have a look at cookbooks or YouTube for some simple and quick meals to make. Choose quick and easy meals to prepare, I try to cook things that won’t take any longer than 30-40 minutes.
Having a prepared list of recipes or meal ideas will help you pace yourself and save time, but will also help you stick to your meal plan.
4. HIRE SOMEONE TO COOK FOR YOU
If you have some dosh to spare, hire someone to come and cook for you or drop off meal preps for the week.
5. FREEZE WHAT YOU CAN
One of my favourite cooking hacks is making use of my freezer!
When doing your grocery shopping, buy things like frozen fruit and veg to avoid the hassle of having to wash and chop them yourself. You can even buy your own fresh veg, wash and chop them and put them in a freezer bag.
6. COOK ONE-POT MEALS
One-pot meals are a lifesaver! Not only are they easy to make, it also saves on all of that washing up!
Here are some delicious one-pot recipe ideas that you may like.
One-Pot Breakfast Ideas
One-Pot Lunch Ideas
One-Pot Dinner Ideas
7. INVEST IN THE RIGHT TOOLS
Investing in the right kitchen gadgets and tools can make life so much easier when you have chronic pain. Nowadays there are a lot of cool gadgets for the kitchen that make preparing meals so easy.
Slow Cooker – Investing in a slow cooker will allow you to prepare a one-pot meal without having to constantly check the stove.
Rice Cooker – There’s no explanation needed for why buying a rice cooker is a good idea, what’s not to love! Get delicious fluffy rice without the hassle.
Electric Can Opener – An electric can opener is a little fancy, but if like me you often feel weak, an electric can opener is a lifesaver.
Good Set of Knives – Trying to chop things with dull knives can put so much pressure on your hands and wrists. If you have pain in your hands and wrists, a good set of sharp knives is essential.
Sandwich Maker – If you like a nice toastie or panini, a sandwich maker is for you. No more having to grill or stand for ages at a frying pan.
Keurig/Coffee Maker – If you’re a coffee lover, you need a keurig! They are super simple to use aND give you coffee shop quality coffees without having to leave your house.
Air Fryer – Not only are air fryers the healthier way to fry food, it also allows you to chill out whilst it does its thing. No need to stand for ages over the stove, meaning more rest for you.
8. CLEAN UP AS YOU GO ALONG
One thing I despise about cooking is the cleaning up! Not just because I’m lazy, but because I have to be on my feet for longer than I can sometimes manage.
Instead of letting things pile up, clean up as you go along and stop burning yourself out by cleaning everything up in one go.
9. SIT DOWN
Cooking requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time, which can be a challenge if you’re living with chronic pain.
So, keep a chair or stool nearby so if you need to pace yourself and take a quick pause you can easily do so. You can also sit down at your dining table or island to do the prep, such as chopping veggies and seasoning meat.
10. PACE YOURSELF
Pace yourself by planning, resting and prepping no matter how much longer it takes to do things. If you have decided to meal prep everything for the week on a particular day, be sure to schedule rest in between each stage of the prepping, cooking and portioning.
11. PUT THINGS IN EASY TO REACH AREAS
Make your life easier by making things easy to access. One thing I have found is that bending too low is really painful, so I’ve made things I use regularly such as pots and pans, knives and containers easy to reach, by putting them in cabinets at eye level.
Do whatever will make things easier for you, whether that’s labelling things, putting things on a lower shelf or reorganising your entire kitchen.
Having things organised and accessible will prevent you from using unnecessary energy to find things and will make cooking a more enjoyable experience.
12. ASK FOR HELP
If you live with other people (who are old enough to cook), ask for help and share the responsibility. It’s really hard to ask for help and if you really enjoy cooking, you might not want to, but you should.
Perhaps make a cooking rota or assign each person a task. For example, you may be better at prepping and the other person may be better at actually cooking. Or maybe you prefer to cook and the other person can do the tidying up.
Or if you have a flare up or just don’t feel very well, let them know and ask them to step in. If you live with people who genuinely care about you, they’ll be happy to step up and offer a helping hand.
OVER TO YOU…
I hope you found these cooking hacks helpful and hopefully they’ll help you get back into the kitchen a little more. What cooking hacks do you use to make cooking easier with chronic pain, I’d love to know?
Don’t forget you’re free weekly meal planner !