7 'Spoon-Saving' Gadgets for Cooking With Chronic Illness
I’ll be the first to admit it: Cooking with a chronic illness is hard. Add food allergies to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I can’t tell you how many times I have hungry-cried in the kitchen because I just have no energy to make the food my body desperately wants.
Thankfully, I have found a few gadgets that save both my spoons and my time in the kitchen. Some of these also help to decrease my pain levels overall, which I consider a huge win.
I have personally tested all of these products in my own spoonie kitchen, and I want to share with you my top spoon-saving picks!
1. Pressure Cooker
My pressure cooker is my new favorite substitute for the ever-popular slow cooker.
Pressure cookers can be used as a slow cooker, but they can also speed up the process, making slow-cooked meals in as little as 15 minutes.
I have made soups, stews, meats and even cakes in my trusty pressure cooker. I frequently cook large batches of meals to store in my freezer for the low-energy days on which I can’t cook. It consolidates all of the cooking into one pot, which decreases the amount of cleanup as well.
I love being able to cook my entire meal at once by just dumping ingredients in and pushing buttons.
My Pick: Instant Pot
2. Food Processor
I have a love-hate relationship with my food processor. I don’t like the clean-up, but it does save my hands from chopping things like spices, vegetables and other fresh ingredients.
Along with chopping and slicing fresh ingredients, food processors can mix things like cookie dough or bread mix and save your precious spoons for other things.
I really like that they come in several different sizes, and a smaller size would be great for folks who struggle with muscle weakness.
My Pick: Food Processor
3. Food Dehydrator
I just recently purchased a food dehydrator with my wedding money, and it has become one of my favorite tools. With it, I have made my own snacks that are gluten-free and gastroparesis-friendly.
Some recipes take a lot of preparation, but a lot of delicious things can be made by simply turning on the machine and adding ingredients.
One of my favorite things to make is fruit jerky, and all it takes is a pouch of fruit baby food dried for 24 hours in the dehydrator. I can set it, forget it and have a week’s worth of snacks to have on hand.
Dehydrators are also helpful for saving fresh ingredients. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are about to go bad can be salvaged by turning them into chips. This is a huge money-saver for me, since I tend to lose energy for cooking the things I have planned and let my ingredients sit for too long.
My Pick: Food Dehydrator
4. Jar Opener
Especially with neuropathy and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), opening jars can quickly drain my energy; sometimes, I can’t get them open at all.
When I don’t have someone around to help me, this can be extremely frustrating.
One thing I have found to help is a jar opening tool. These tools provide more leverage and grip on jar lids to make them easier to open. I prefer the manual version so I don’t have to worry about batteries, but I’m sure an electric jar opener would work just as well and maybe save even more spoons!
5. Electric Can Opener
Electric can openers might seem “lazy” to some, but for those of us with chronic illnesses, the energy they can save can allow us to cook more or even cook at all.
This is one tool I truly can’t live without. Spending an entire day slowly opening a can to avoid pain is absolutely ridiculous, and that’s what I would have to do without one!
My electric can opener saves my hands from nerve pain and weakness due to my neuropathy and EDS, which is well worth the cost.
My Pick: Electric Can Opener
6. Grabber Tool
A grabber tool can help throughout the house, not just in the kitchen.
It can be used to pick things up off the floor, reach boxes or spices in the hard-to-reach cabinets, and even shut doors or put items away without exerting much energy. Instead of bending over and causing more dizziness or climbing into the cabinets and wasting spoons, I can just use the grabber to get what I need easily.
At first, I found it silly, but after a while, I realized just how much energy I waste by having to reach for things that are just out of reach.
My Pick: Reacher Tool
7. Rocking Knife
Cutting and slicing things with neuropathy or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can be extremely taxing and painful.
I used to avoid recipes I knew would require dicing just because I didn’t want to be in pain or exhausted. Now, if I just need to cut a few things for a meal, I like to use a rocking knife.
Rocking-knives allow me to use both hands while cutting and cut at a different angle, which is easier on my joints. Spreading the work between both hands leaves me with much more energy and much less pain.
My Pick: Rocker Knife
I know cooking can be stressful and hard, and I hope that by sharing a few things that help me, you can find it a little bit more manageable.
Do you use any special tools in the kitchen?
A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.
Photo by juro_zmatek on Reshot