Even if you enjoy cooking, both physical and other challenges can get in the way of your ability to whip up a quick meal. From tiredness to mobility issues to not knowing how to cook for one, your time in the kitchen may not be as easy as it used to be. Here are some common challenges and ways you can overcome them:
Challenge: Grasping a knife safely
Solution: Buy pre-cut veggies
Arthritis and other conditions can make it hard to use a knife well. If you find yourself struggling with cutting, you may benefit from buying pre-cut veggies. From broccoli and cauliflower florets to cubed winter squash to mirepoix (chopped onion, carrots and celery), there are plenty of options in the produce aisle to ease your cutting burden.
Challenge: Standing for long periods of time
Solution: Use a slow cooker or multi-cooker
Whether you have knee pain or just feel tired, recipes that require a lot of active cooking time can be too much. Instead, look for recipes that use a slow cooker or multi-cooker like an instant pot. For most recipes, you can toss in a bunch of ingredients, set it and forget about it until it’s time to eat.
Challenge: Can’t use fresh produce fast enough
Solution: Buy frozen
Frozen produce is a smart choice for a few reasons. It can often be cheaper than fresh produce, for starters. Nutrition-wise, it’s a winner—nutrient levels are comparable to those in fresh produce; some nutrient levels in frozen veggies may even be higher. But above all, you can use just the amount you need, when you need it. No veggies at risk of going bad; just put the ones you don’t need in the freezer for another day.
Challenge: Too many leftovers
Solution: Cook once, eat twice
If you’re cooking for one or for a smaller crowd than you’re used to, your favorite recipes may leave you with loads of leftovers. One option is to downsize your recipes. But if that’s too hard, you can also try making the same recipes and packaging up the leftovers for another day. Certain types of food like soups and stews freeze well; stash some away and you can have a few ready-made meals on hand for weeks to come.
Challenge: Clean-up is exhausting
Solution: Give yourself less to clean
Meals that use one main dish to cook mean you’re left with just one item to wash instead of a sink full of dishes. Sheet-pan dinners and slow-cooked meals are perfect for limiting your mess. Another strategy is to line baking sheets or roasting pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil; you can toss the dirtied liner rather than work hard to de-grease a cooked-on pan.