A life hack is defined as a tip or strategy that can be used to make daily life better or more efficient. Hacking used to be confined to the world of computing, but now people from all walks of life use easy hacks to be more productive in all areas. Here are ten life hacks for cooking and eating with chronic pain.
1. Use a weekly meal kit delivery service when eating with chronic pain
While eating all of your meals out can get expensive, ordering the ingredients and recipes shipped to your door a couple times a week can be a more affordable way to take some of the pressure off of meal prep. Meal services are exploding in popularity, with many different options, including those that can be tailored to gluten-free or vegetarian diets.
Pro tip: If you are cooking for just one person, you can use meal kit delivery services for four, cook all at once, then freeze three extra portions for future meals.
2. Cook once, eat twice
Double whatever recipe you make and use the extras for lunches during the week or freeze for a quick meal later on. You are already in the kitchen, and doubling recipes usually takes no more time or space.
This life hack for eating with chronic pain works especially well if you have made a family favorite or you find a lot of a certain ingredient on sale and want to capitalize on that.
3. Go bigger: Cook once, eat all month
Spend one day a month (with helpers for chopping and organizing) to cook meals that will feed your family all for 30 days. This does require some planning, but it can save exponential amounts of time in the future.
Worried that your stereotypical crockpot meal is filled with artificial ingredients and aren’t pain-friendly? Try these 31 crockpot freezer meals that are gluten-free and dairy-free. There are some vegetarian options, and many of them can be made with vegetarian proteins, such as tofu or seitan. If you are not comfortable adapting a recipe, try these vegetarian crockpot freezer meals.
4. Use helping hands
Assistive tools in the kitchen can be a lifesaver for those with painful, swollen hands due to arthritis. Openers for bottles and special utensils for eating can help make all cooking tasks much easier and less painful.
5. Keep healthy snacks handy
One of the main reasons that people with chronic pain (and people in general) do not eat in a more healthy way is convenience. It is much easier to buy a burger than it is to assemble a salad.
Eliminate this as an excuse when you’re eating with chronic pain by immediately prepping all vegetables and fruits when you bring them home from the grocery store. Wash and dry a week’s worth of salad greens, cut up fruits, and pre-package serving sizes of granola and cut vegetables.
6. Make your lunch for the whole week
Are you sensing a trend? Unhealthy food is easy. Make healthy food easier by planning ahead. Mason jar salads are an easy way to go. Place a layer of grains or beans on the bottom of the jar and douse with dressing. Add greens on top, seal, and stash in the ‘fridge. Lunch is made, faster than the drive thru.
Lunch needn’t be salad-based. You can also prep several different kinds of wraps at the beginning of the week and place them in bags with a piece of fruit and a yogurt (or maybe some dark chocolate). Try garlicky hummus for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Adding plenty of leafy greens ups the vitamin content and provides sustainable energy for the day.
7. Set it and forget it
Even if you don’t use your crockpot for once-a-month meal prep, you can certainly pull it out during the week. A crockpot is a pain patient’s best friend when the family comes home at night starving, just when your energy is waning and the pain is starting to creep in.
8. Let someone else do the research about eating with chronic pain
Sure, there’s a lot of information online about eating with chronic pain, but which of it is really any good? One of our favorite cooking hacks for chronic pain is to rely on those who have come before us and done it really well. To that end, look to the work of bloggers who focus on gluten-free hacks or simply healthy eating. A great blog takes the guesswork out of cooking for a pain condition, a time-saving bonus that makes it one of our favorite hacks.
9. Rotate chefs
If you live with people over 14, chances are good you can rotate yourself out of the kitchen at least once a week. Meals can be very simple and easy to put together, like a simple sauce that can go on nearly anything. Guest chefs can even just pull out a pre-made freezer meal and heat it up while you put your feet up and relax.
Bonus: Teenagers need to learn how to cook, and this can be a great way to get them started. Even if they are just heating something you have already made, they are contributing to the process. This may spark their interest in cooking, making your job easier in the future. It’s a win-win.
10. Save time
Cooking can take up a lot of our precious time. With a hungry family clamoring for dinner, or kids running out the door in the morning, time-saving cooking hacks are a lifesaver. The geniuses at Kit Stone have put together an easy infographic of 50 different time-saving cooking hacks to make life in the kitchen so much easier. Easier, more efficient life in the kitchen translates into more home-cooked, healthy meals and fewer packaged snacks and dinners.
We eat better when food looks, smells, and tastes delicious. These life hacks can make cooking and eating with chronic pain much easier and more accessible to everyone.
What are your favorite cooking hacks for chronic pain?