This article is part of a series; for the rest of the series, visit Food and MS.
There are many of us with MS who still like to cook. Our general health is important and food is a big influence in our health as well as that of our family. It is time to talk about preparing easy meals with food that is both enjoyable and good for us. Let's start cooking!
There was a time when I was a pretty good cook, and quite adventuresome, too. I bought into those myths that said food is better if prepared "from scratch" and the microwave is great only for "reheating." When following a recipe, I would sometimes add an ingredient, just to add a special kick to the dish. I often cooked Sunday afternoon for the following week. I packaged it in the refrigerator and the family had their weekday dinners already prepared.
Cooking was part of everyday living. It was especially important to plan because I worked all day, and I had two teenage boys who liked to eat. Grocery shopping was quite a project, from planning to completion. It was fun when a new or even experimental dish was a hit. It was gratifying the first time one of my boys prepared a meal for the family and it turned out tasty. Cooking was a lot of fun and not too difficult. Times have changed.
Cooking has still remained part of everyday living. However, I have MS, and, as it progressed, I went through all of the stages of awkwardness and my kitchen habits changed. I soon stopped believing "from scratch" was always the answer. I learned to prepare meals even when my MS had made it difficult to balance. If I reached to pick something up, I might miss it all together or it would slip out of my hand. I read and reread recipes or instructions repeatedly throughout the preparation. Now that I am sitting, new challenges have been added to the list.
My boys are married, and there is a man in my life. We still have to eat, and we may as well enjoy it, too. I have changed my cooking and eating habits. I’m guessing some of this applies to you, too.
This series of articles is about how to prepare healthy, tasty meals. Preparation of each meal must accommodate awkward movement, gait, balance, and even cooking from a chair. Some days, you may not have the time or energy, and those are the days when these practices and little tips really come in handy. Using pre-packaged mixes and even canned foods, you can prepare a nice meal without too much time or effort. You need to eat, so you may as well get ready to cook something you really want to eat.
To be ready, set your attitude to positive. Take a deep breath, smile, and get started. Here are some things for each person with MS to keep in mind when preparing a meal:
It cannot take long
“Long” means different things to different people. To me, it means meal preparation cannot take longer than half an hour. You have to decide how much time is too long for you.
It has to be easy to prepare
For me, easy means I must be able to do it in my wheelchair. Details, workspace, and lifting have to be limited. Again, easy is a personal measurement. If something is too hard for you, either find another way or do not do it.
It has to be easy to eat
Of course, it should taste flavorful (Isn’t that the whole idea?) but it has to be easy to eat. You decide what that means for you, maybe not too easy to spill, no rigorous cutting and for some even rigorous chewing.
It has to be easy to clean up
Along with ease of preparation goes ease of completing the task. So, it is important that preparing an easy meal includes an easy cleanup.
It has to be inexpensive
Like many people with disabilities, I have a fixed income. I guess this concern could have been titled “It has to be easy to pay for” because that is the idea. You decide how much you can spend, and do not spend more.
It may not win any gourmet cooking awards...but maybe it will
You should eat something good and good for you. You can include some winning meals while focusing on planning and preparation.
We will be covering points about nutrition, diets designed specifically for MS, as well as tips for preparing a meal. Next, we will begin with getting your menus, your kitchen, and yourself ready for cooking.