A good meal is a source of energy, health, creativity and fellowship when you eat with others. But preparing one can seem daunting, especially when MS is in the picture. A meal won’t magically appear on the table by itself, but there are simple strategies to follow so you CAN prepare and enjoy your own meals.
- Plan ahead. Write out a meal plan each week. Organizing meals in advance gives you more control, helping you make healthier choices. And once a plan is set, it’s easier to follow through. Save energy by buying everything at the same time online or at the grocery store. Or have a helper shop from your list.
- Make more than you need. Refrigerate or freeze one or two extra meals to use on days when you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time.
- Keep it simple. Keep on hand old-fashioned oatmeal, cold cuts and frozen soups. Buy prewashed and precut vegetables and fruits. They cost more, but it saves valuable steps. Also try buying frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. This way you’ll have them on hand when you need them.
- When following a recipe, measure everything first and arrange ingredients on the counter in the order they’ll be used. That way, if you’re interrupted, you’ll know where you left off. Always rely on a timer when using the oven, and post a friendly reminder note next to the stovetop to turn off burners.
- Use electrical appliances. Can openers and mixers save energy. Food processors are great, but remember the time it takes to clean them up afterward. Try using a slow cooker. Just add pre-cut veggies, some meat and a dash of water in the morning, and at the end of the day, voila! A delicious meal awaits you.
- Use adaptive aids. Some adaptive aids for cooking include built-up handles for utensils, cutting boards with suction cups, one-handled tools, a wheeled cart, and color contrasted stove knobs. You can find many of these online (see Resources). Or try medical supply stores and hospitals with rehabilitation departments in your area.
- Pace yourself. Break up cooking tasks throughout the day, such as 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the early afternoon. As for cleanup, soak dishes and pans in the sink overnight, and put them in the dishwasher in the morning when your energy is higher.
- Try premade meals. Check out what stores in your area offer in terms of premade meals. They can be healthy and affordable, and just need a little time in the oven or the microwave.
- Be willing to make changes. A process may be different from what you’ve been used to, but the end results may be the same. With a little flexibility, you CAN be your own top chef in no time!
Author: Ann Mullinix, OTR, L, Staff, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis