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Cooking with Chronic Pain

Suffering from chronic pain changes everything about your life. You can’t focus on what you want to do, instead, your life feels as though it’s controlled by what your pain will allow you to do. Plans may be changed, you may be unable to do common, everyday tasks, and many people may also suffer from chronic fatigue. Being able to cook is an important part of homesteading, but when you struggle with chronic pain, cooking at home can seem impossible. However, with a little adjustment, planning, and carefully selected appliances, you can be successful at homestead healthy menus that you have cooked yourself!

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Both Grammie and I suffer from chronic pain that affects our ability to work around the house, including cooking and cleaning. These are all tips and solutions that we use in our home and that have worked for us.

How to Cook with Chronic Pain

Get the Right Equipment

Successfully cooking with chronic pain relies heavily on the right equipment. One of the biggest changes to make is to use pots and pans with two handles. This is important as it balances the weight of a pot or pan between both of your hands and wrists, rather than straining one with all the weight of a single-handle pan.

Secondly, invest in some choice appliances such as a food processor or mini food processor, an electric can opener, crockpot, and an electric mixer. You want to make sure that each of these appliances will be useful for you, however so you don’t overdo it.

Best Chronic Pain Kitchen Appliances

  • Food Processor/ Mini-Food Processor: Eliminates shredding and chopping
  • Electric Can Opener: Big cans, small cans… an electric can opener removes the twisting motion from a manual can opener
  • Crockpot: Allows you to make big meals with little preparation in one big pot. Plus you can make extra for later in the week.
  • Electric Mixer: Whether you go for a countertop mixer or a hand-mixer, this tool is great for everything from mashing potatoes to shredding pork and chicken. It’s a must have for a chronic-pain kitchen.

Invest in some high-quality food storage containers. This allows you to increase meal sizes so you can put half away or start batch cooking so that you have ingredients for later in the week. Batch cooking and meal planning are important for learning how to cook with chronic pain. They allow you to cook ahead so you can pull something already prepared out when you are in too much pain to work from scratch.

Use a stool. Find a stool that is comfortable to sit in and at a comfortable height for working in your kitchen. It will change your life for the better. Just do it.

Use aluminum foil, baking sheet liners, crockpot liners, roasting bags, and parchment paper to reduce cooking messes and scrubbing when cleaning dishes. Yes, they may take up your grocery bill by a little, but overall your food expenses will drop and you’ll be feeling better because you’re eating healthier meals.

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Making the mental adjustment to cooking with chronic pain is just as important as the physical adjustments. Small changes, like crockpot liners and parchment paper, can make a huge difference in how much cooking you’re able to do. Every now and then I think about cutting them out to save a few dollars on our grocery budget, but inevitably the extra dishes send my pain level up and we have to eat out for the next few days.
Moral of the story – a few dollars now can save you a lot of dollars later.

Buy a set of covers for bowls in the microwave to prevent messes. The last set we got had three different size covers and they are a huge mess-prevention. Cleaning the microwave is the worst – avoiding the messes, to begin with, is the way to go.

Make the Right Changes

Take some time to evaluate and then re-organize your kitchen when cooking with chronic pain. The way your kitchen is now may not be the way it needs to be for the way you are. Put pots and pans somewhere they are convenient. Try to eliminate as much bending and twisting as you can – put things you rarely use in the harder-to-reach places.

Get in the habit of creating a meal plan and prepping food ahead of time – especially when you feel good. This is definitely an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” solution. Pre-cook and freeze things. Chop up your veggies at the start of the week. Check out options like FreezEasy and Erin Chase’s other great meal-prep options. Remember that many cheap meals are full of inflammatory foods that can make things worse or start a flare-up. Especially when you feel good, get some things knocked out for those high-pain days.

Check out Erin Chase’s FreezEasy Store and all her meal plans here! Or Sign up to get regular meal plans right to your email every month here!

Frozen foods are amazing. You can get almost any fruit or vegetable you can think of in frozen, pre-cut, or chopped form, in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store.

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Invest in grocery pick-up or delivery. We opted for a Walmart+ membership this year so that we don’t have to pay to have our groceries delivered. It has been life-changing in the best possible way. I never realized how much energy I spend going to the store myself.

Getting Help for Cooking with Chronic Pain

If you still struggle to get meals made for yourself don’t despair. Check places like facebook and craigslist and see if there is someone that could come help once or twice a week or month to get everything prepped. You can put up a notice, explain your situation and there will inevitably be someone willing to help.

Not comfortable with the idea of a stranger in your home and kitchen? There are many healthy prepared meal kits that will deliver to your home and companies, like Schwann’s that will bring healthy, prepared meals right to your door.

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