Everyday Living with MS: Meal Preparation

Community Member

Hey good looking, whatcha got cooking? We are going to be talking about cooking and meal time preparation today. I know you are wondering what Merely Me makes for dinner. Reservations of course Bah-dum-bum. Seriously folks I want to get a discussion started about kitchen tips for those of us who have Multiple Sclerosis. It can be difficult to prepare meals when you have this disease. I find that I am Miss Fumble Fingers in the kitchen or else I am doing things like pouring orange juice in my cereal. It is quite the culinary adventure to cook when you have MS.

What I am going to do is to present some hypothetical problems we all may share when trying to prepare a meal and offer some solutions and links to handy gadgets to make your life easier.

Hypothetical problem # 1: I get tired when trying to cook because I am going from one place to another trying to find things I need.

Solution: It is time to get organized! A lot of energy can be wasted when you are hunting and gathering in your own kitchen. Stream line the process by getting everything you need from a certain cupboard or pantry shelf at once. Place those items together on your counter. Try not to waste energy by duplicating steps back to retrieve items from the same places.

Organize your kitchen so that it makes the most sense for you. Which items do you use the most? Have those items stored in a central location closest to where you cook. Have similar items grouped together. For example I have a baking center on wheels where I store most items needed for baking including cake and muffin pans, baking mixes, flours, sprinkles, etc.

Have your most used spices in a spice rack easy for you to see and reach. Don't have your most used spices mixed up with the spices and seasonings you rarely use.

Get rid of things in your kitchen you are not using. Those things are getting in the way of you finding the things you do need.

Sometimes convenience is worth the expense. For example the bags of pre-cut lettuce for salads can save you the time and energy of finding the items and prepping. It may save time in the end to make your own prepackaged baking mixes. While you have all your baking ingredients out make large baggies of the dry ingredients needed for muffins, cakes, or cookies and tape the recipe onto the bag. Store them in your pantry until you are ready to use them.

Recruit one of your family members to be your sous chef. Have this person cut and prepare needed items such as sliced up veggies for a stew or salad.

**Hypothetical Problem # 2:

**I can't open jars any more.

Solution: I hadn't realized how many devices there now are to help with this problem. I have no stock in the items I suggest here. I have found good consumer reports on these or else I saw them recommended on either MS or arthritis sites.

One item I found highly recommended for people who have trouble opening jars is the Black and Decker Lids off Jar Opener.

If you don't own this book already you simply have to get it. It is called, "Multiple Sclerosis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier" and author Shelley Schwarz highly recommends the Open Up cordless jar and bottle opener which you can find here.

Of course I always use the trick my mother taught me and that is to run very cold water and then very hot water over the lid causing things to expand and contract and then beat the lid with a butter knife. Okay maybe that trick didn't always work so well.

Hypothetical Problem # 3: _ I am afraid to cut things with a knife because of my weak grasp._

Solution: Even before my diagnosis with MS I was a little timid with knives. But now there are specially made knives which can make you feel a little safer when slicing and dicing.

There is the Oxy Good Grips Knife which has a pressure absorbing handle they say is good for people who have a limited ability to grasp.

There are also cutting boards which may help such as the Swedish cutting board which has a vise for holding larger items and a spike insert which holds fruits and vegetables in place for cutting.

Of course there is always a wide range of food processors to help with chopping, mincing, shredding, and even kneading.

This is a topic which I could go on forever about but I will stop here and ask for any other tips and suggestions you might have for making cooking, baking, or meal time preparation easier for those of us who have Multiple Sclerosis. I will be continuing this series identifying other self help skills for discussion. If you have a particular topic you wish for us to delve into for this series please do not hesitate to let us know.