An adult woman experiencing PsA pain and fatigue but refusing help in the kitchen regardless

9 Kitchen Hacks for Life with Psoriatic Arthritis

When I buy groceries, I do it with such a sense of optimism. This week, I’m going to cook all of our meals at home and we’re not going to order out! My ambition lasts until the idea of an afternoon nap inserts itself, and then next thing you know, I have opened up the Grub Hub app on my iPhone.

We all know that it’s healthier to eat food that we have prepared at home, but the reality is that it is hard to find the energy for cooking when you are dealing with pain and fatigue from psoriatic arthritis.

Yet another thing that pain interrupts

Here's a common dinner scenario at our house: I bought some fresh salmon, fully intending to cook it for dinner that night. But in the afternoon, I fell asleep in my recliner and woke up with terrible pain in my knee, hip, and the back of my shoulders.

This is partnered with a sense of guilt knowing that I would probably order take-out and the fresh salmon would get tossed. Sometimes my husband, Scott, will save the day and prepare the salmon with fresh veggies. We both enjoy the healthy home-cooked meal so much more than take-out.

But with his work schedule and his own chronic health conditions, he's not always available to prepare a meal, so the fresh food would often be wasted. Does that sound familiar?

Modify your approach to meals

These days, there are very few times that I can deal with cooking a big meal. I take shortcuts and cook things that are quick and easy. If I tried to cook from scratch, I would likely quit halfway through because of pain. I’d end up with a big mess and nothing to eat!

Here are a few tricks that allow me to get through simple meal prep more often.

Anti-fatigue mats for my kitchen floor are a must for me!

It’s more difficult for me to stand still than it is to walk around. When I’m preparing food in the kitchen, I need something to cushion the floor.

I have two mats – one in front of the sink and stove and another in front of the counter. These mats allow me to stand a little longer than I can stand on the bare kitchen floor, just long enough to cook a quick meal.

The Instant Pot

This might be a kitchen trend that has come and gone for some, but in my kitchen it's part of a committed long-term relationship. I love that I just dump my ingredients into the pot, walk away and come back a few minutes later to a fully cooked meal.

The blessed air-fryer

When people start talking about a time-saving product, I want to know all about it!! My friend Caroline told me that she cooks all of her meals in an air fryer, so I bought one the same day. Similar to the instant pot, it’s a quick and easy way to cook, plus I have easy cleanup.

I open up the drawer, pop in some chicken wings or cauliflower, and then the drawer comes out for easy cleanup. I can even put it in the dishwasher!

Making clean-up easy

I do everything I can to make cleanup easy. Scott uses every dish in the house when he cooks. But I make a game out of using as few as possible. I’m always thinking about how to make life easier. My favorite way to do this is to line my baking dish any time I use the oven.

I don’t ever want to clean up a messy baking dish, so I always use aluminum foil or parchment paper before I put any food inside.

The beauty of pre-chopped veggies

Sometimes it feels therapeutic to chop veggies, with the mindless repetitive action. Other days, my wrists and fingers hurt way too much to consider chopping. I like to have pre-chopped veggies on hand for those days. I can always find veggies that have been chopped in the produce department of major grocery stores.

I like to keep a bag of frozen chopped onions on hand, just in case. And they'll keep a while in the freezer, so on the days when I can chop, I do!

A fancy new jar opener

I used to have a hand-held jar opener, but using it took as much energy as opening the jar with my hands, so it was no help. My sister bought me a cabinet-mounted jar opener for Christmas a couple of years ago and I use it all the time. It makes me feel more independent in the kitchen, and I love not having to ask Scott to open jars for me!

Separate it out

A gallon of milk can be too heavy for me to pick up when my wrists hurt, but sometimes that's how much milk we need. If we have a gallon of milk, I have Scott separate it out into smaller containers so it is easier for me to manage.

A salad is still a meal

I like to keep a couple of bagged salad kits and chicken in the kitchen. If I’m not up for meal prep, at least I can cook up a chicken breast, open up a bag of salad and mix it all together. It’s a legit meal without dialing the number to the local pizza joint.

Save your energy!

Meal prep begins at the grocery store, but a trip to the grocery store will wear me out for the rest of the day. The hard tiled floors have no give, so an hour pacing up and down the aisles can be torture on a body.

I take full advantage of online grocery ordering and delivery services. I do like to select things like fish for myself, but I keep that trip short to save my energy for the preparation.

Let’s face it. Cooking is not my favorite thing to do even on the best of days. But, when I am in pain, it is very nice to have some shortcuts up my sleeve so we can still eat healthy and delicious food.

This or That

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