The Thriver’s Guide to Cooking: Accessibility During Meal Prep

May 10, 2015

We all face challenges of one kind of another and those challenges can change our lives in ways we never dreamed of.   My challenge is living with a severe physical disability due to multiple sclerosis (MS) and trying to make peace with how it has changed my life. Even though that diagnosis came 36 years ago, I still, on occasion, compare myself to my able-bodied relatives and friends.  Do they have any idea how lucky they are to have the freedom to be spontaneous, adventurous, and have choices?

Yet, every day I work hard to be as independent as possible, giving myself more time, perhaps two or three more times than it would normally take to complete even the simplest task.  Take cooking for example: I no longer have grand expectations for what I can accomplish.  Instead, I tackle small tasks, that when completed successfully, give me a sense of accomplishment and put a smile on my face.

Here are some of the ways I manage cooking in the kitchen in my three-wheeled, Amigo™ scooter:

  • I keep a clean dishtowel on my lap instead of struggling to put on a protective apron.
  • I use pots and pans that are within my reach and are easy to take out of the cabinet/drawer.
  • I make simple dishes: rice, couscous, hard/soft boiled eggs, quinoa, corn on the cob, etc. To fill a pot with water, I do it one glass of water at a time.  After filling the glass from the water dispenser on the refrigerator door, I roll over to the stove and pour the water in the pot.  I do this several times until the pot is filled. Then, I turn on the stove and bring the water to a boil.  I also set a timer for 10 minutes so if I get sidetracked, I won’t forget that the stove is on.
  • I use recipes with only a few steps. Nothing is complicated or involved. When cookbooks are too heavy to lift and keep open, I surf the Internet to find recipes with only a few ingredients. Sometimes, I check the pantry for items I already have and use those to create interesting meals and snacks.
  • To save time and energy, I purchase salad mix in a bag, squash that’s been cut into cubes, cut up pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, broccoli, and cauliflower.  I also purchase frozen foods to keep on hand, like chopped onions, grated cheese, fruits, and vegetables. Sometimes these foods cost a little more, but eating a well-balanced diet is of utmost importance when you live with chronic conditions and/or health issues that limit your ability to chop, dice, shred or otherwise prepare.

When I’m done, I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I prepare a dish “just the way I like it.” So, streamline your tasks, give yourself extra time, and move forward in small steps.

Have some other handy tips on getting around the kitchen? Tell us how y9u streamline food preparation and cooking in the comments below!

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