Cooking has been a favorite part of my life since I was a toddler. Some of my favorite early memories revolve around learning to cook with my grandma. We spent a LOT of time in the kitchen throughout my childhood. She taught me how to make recipes ranging from quick and easy recipes to very long and in-depth meals. We baked pies and cakes. And even spent an entire summer baking different kinds of bread and trying to perfect the look of our rolls. As I grew up and moved out on my own I continued to enjoy cooking, and loved getting a recipe box from my grandma that held many our favorite recipes that we made together. Sadly, when my health started decline and my chronic illnesses got worse, my time in the kitchen also declined. It became harder to cook and became something that was much more trying. Over the years I have found some tips and tricks that make cooking with a chronic illness easier. And today I want to share those with you.
- Plan ahead - Over the years I have learned that the more unhealthy I eat the more aggravated my fibromyalgia is. So I've tried all sorts of different ways to plan ahead so I can eat healthy. I have found that what works best for me is to prep my meals for week ahead of time. On a day when I'm feeling well I will order my groceries, pick them up and do what I can to prepare for the week. Whether that's marinating meat, grilling chicken, precooking ground beef for tacos or spaghetti or chopping veggies. I do whatever I can that will make cooking later in the week easier. I haven't tried it personally, but I have friends that will pre-package their smoothie ingredients into freezer bags, so they can just grab the bag from the freezer and dump it in the blender.
- Keep meals as simple as you can - I love looking for new recipes on Pinterest. But I can't click the back button fast enough when I see a list of 15 ingredients or requires more than 45 minutes to prepare. And I no longer care to make sure that each meal has a certain amount of protein, veggies and starches. As long as it's not all fat and starches I'm good with it. Most of my meals these days are something slow-cooked or roasted. I try to do high protein, and low starches but I don't stress if that's not exactly what each meal is.
- Make bigger portions/more than you need - When you are preparing to cook, gathering ingredients and such you should think about making double or triple of the recipe. By doing this you have meals for now AND meals for later. I like to do this especially with soups and casseroles. If you &/or your family aren't big fans of leftovers then make more and freeze the extra. When you pull that dish out in a couple weeks it won't feel like leftovers.
- Get yourself a good crock pot or - I LOVE LOVE LOVE my crock pot!! I can not say enough good things about it. I love being able to throw a few things in it in the morning and having a meal 4-8 hours later. It doesn't really feel like cooking because I didn't have to do much except chop a few things and throw them in.
- Simplify grocery shopping - Grocery Shopping is such a pain. Literally and figuratively. Especially during cold and flu season. And it always just takes so much energy. My area is a little behind the times but about six months ago the Walmart closest to me started offering grocery pickup and it has changed my grocery shopping game. I can just go online order my groceries and just pick them up without ever leaving my car. This prevents all the extra purchases I might make because I see things as I'm shopping and decide I need them. It also prevents the fatigue that comes from Shopping and it cuts the chance that I will pick up any germs from anyone while Shopping eat down. So I highly encourage you to do some form of online grocery shopping. Whether it's through amazon, or instacart who deliver your groceries to your home. Or Walmart or Hy-eve where you have to go and pick your groceries up!
- Find a good memory foam rug for the kitchen - I had a friend suggest this to me several years ago and it really helped me. I actually bought one for the area in front of my stove and one for in front of the sink. I did that because those are the areas that I generally stand in place the longest while I am in my kitchen. But if I am doing prep work and chopping and have a lot of chopping to do, I will move one of the rugs over to where I am standing. You might think this one is silly. But you would be amazed at how much it helps to prevent some of the pain you would normally get in your feet in legs. I find that it also helps some to minimize the pain in my hips and back as well.
I love to cook and I hate that it's one of the things that my health has taken from me. So I have worked really hard to find ways to be able to continue cooking when I feel like it. I hope that you can find these tips helpful.
If you have any tips that you have found to be really helpful for you in the kitchen don't hesitate to leave them for me in the comments below!