10 Cooking Tips for People With Arthritis

Cooking can be difficult for people with arthritis who live with physical limitations, pain, and fatigue. We compiled 10 tips to make cooking easier.


Use Ergonomic Cooking Tools

Cooking utensils and food

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Arthritis pain, especially affecting the hands, fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, can make simple cooking tasks more difficult. Ergonomic, lightweight cooking tools that have easy grips and non-slip handles are very helpful for people with arthritis. There are many design selections for cooking tools and kitchen aids. Spatulas, spoons, ladles, whisks and other cooking tools which feel comfortable in your hand (i.e., ergonomic) can improve manual dexterity, reduce pain, and compensate for swollen and deformed joints.


Use Pots and Pans With Two Handles

Woman putting pot on stove

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Pots and pans can be heavy, clumsy, and hard to manage for people with painful, arthritic joints. Lifting pots and pans with only one handle can strain already burdened joints. If you have hands, wrists, or elbows which have been weakened by arthritis, trying to lift a heavy pot or pan can actually be unsafe.

Using a pot or pan with two handles will help you avoid a major kitchen accident or the risk of injury. The two-handled pan distributes the weight more evenly between both of your hands and wrists.


Food Processors Are a Necessity

food processor mincing something green

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Food processors are a necessity in the kitchen, especially for people with arthritis who have difficulty with manual cooking tasks like chopping, cutting, and slicing. The food processor will automatically chop, shred, or slice after you load it.

Be sure you choose a food processor that is manageable for you, considering physical limitations that you developed from having arthritis. Before you buy it, be sure you are able to change the blades easily and remove the plastic bowl and plastic lid from the food processor. Consider mini food processors for your needs as well.​


Rocker Knife or Specialty Knives Simplify Cutting

Woman mincing vegetables with a mezzaluna

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Too often, people don’t take the time to search for better cooking tools. There are more specialty cooking tools available than ever before. Useful for everyone, specialty cooking tools are even more beneficial for people who have physical limitations.

Rocker knives are an example of a specialty cooking tool. The two-handled design puts strength and control back into cutting and chopping. The rocker blade design has the motion built right in.


Pull Up a Stool

kitchen stools pulled up to a kitchen island

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A kitchen stool is as important to a cook who has arthritis as any cooking tool they own. Cooking can be a long process, depending on the complexity of the recipe. When counter work starts to increase the level of your arthritis pain, or when standing over the stove is wearing you out, be prepared to pull up a stool. It’s important to have a stool nearby. Don’t think about it ruining your kitchen decor. Think of the kitchen stool as part of managing life with arthritis.


Crockpots Offer Convenience

Slow cooker with stew inside

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It is helpful for people with chronic pain to be able to cook nutritious meals, but in less time or more simply. Crockpot recipes are just that—simple, one-pot nutritious meals.


Soup Is Simple and Soothing

Kabocha Squash Soup

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When someone is sick, they are often told to have some chicken soup. For whatever reason, soup really does help people feel better. Soup is simple to prepare and nutritious. Make sure you have canned soups available for when you are having very bad days or the ingredients to make soup when you feel up to cooking. Soup will warm you and soothe you.

When moving the soup pot, make sure you have a good grip on both handles of the pot. Use a ladle to pour soup into the bowl at the table where you will be eating, so you don’t have to carry a bowl full of hot soup across the kitchen.


Planned Leftovers

Lasagna in baking dish
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Make extra food and plan for leftovers. By doubling your recipe, you can create planned leftovers that you can freeze and have available for another day. It’s really not much harder to double your ingredients and produce twice the amount of food. You will be glad you have nutritious meals in your freezer on days you don’t feel well enough to cook. It is so convenient to do this, it soon becomes a habit to cook this way.


Store Foods Conveniently

Meal prep containers
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There are two important points with regard to food storage. First, make sure you have food storage containers that are easy for you to open and easy for you to stack. Whether you choose plastic storage containers with easy-open lids or Ziploc bags, make sure they are convenient for you. There is a wide selection of food storage products available, so you should not be wrestling or hurting your hands when storing foods.

Secondly, think about what you are storing. Prepare and store foods that you use often and have them in ready-to-eat condition. If you like to nibble on fresh vegetables, clean and cut them up to store in small batches so that they are readily available. Make it easy on yourself.


Make Kitchen Shelves Accessible

Kitchen with Simple Opening Shelving

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Your kitchen shelves should be easily accessible so that you don’t strain your muscles and hurt painful joints when trying to reach dishes or cookware. The best design is pullout shelves, which allow you to access kitchen items stored in the back with ease. If you don’t have that option, at least make sure you have your shelves set up conveniently. Have your most commonly used items closest to where you use them. Have infrequently used items stored farther away or higher on the shelves. Make sure kitchen items are not stacked precariously so that they can fall as you reach for them. Set up your kitchen with safety in mind and convenience too.

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.