We hear from many of our clients about the frustrations of trying to cook in a standard-layout kitchen when using a mobility device such as a wheelchair or a walker. Many of our clients also have reduced stamina due to symptoms or treatment side effects, and standing for hours at the counter or stove just isn't feasible. Our nutrition and dietetics students researched and compiled the following tips that may be helpful for clients or others who have mobility limitations.
When making a grocery list, plan out the meals that you want to have for the upcoming week.
Try to purchase some ingredients for easy, healthy meals that do not not require a lot of additional preparation – For example, tuna salad on whole wheat bread.
Get GOOD microwave food – A lot of microwave dishes contain a lot of extra sodium. Beware frozen, prepared meals. Even those marked "healthy" may just be low in fat or calories, but be packed with sodium or preservatives. However frozen vegetables are in many cases as or almost as nutritious as fresh vegetables, and are easy to prepare using a microwave. You can also cook sweet potatoes and oatmeal in the microwave.
Use sources of protein that do not need to be cooked – For example, beans and nuts.
Stick with easy, grab-n-go snacks – yogurts, nuts, fresh fruit and protein bars are all good healthy choices but require no preparation and can be on-hand all the time! Also, cutting up raw veggies and fruits make for a healthy, fiber-filled snack!
creative Use of Appliances:
Use a toaster oven – Good for toasting bread, vegetables, and even meats!
Crockpots come in handy! – You can make a delicious one pot meal without using an oven. Often, crockpot meals can serve you for the whole week or last well when frozen.
Different types of ovens – If you're able to make more significant modifications in your kitchen, wall-mounted ovens with side opening doors are ideal for persons whose mobility is limited. Purchasing an oven with controls on the front of the oven is also helpful.
Cook food in bulk:
Cooking food in bulk is a good way to make sure that you always have some food on hand.
If you can, ask someone (like your Lori's Hands students!) to come over and help you prepare large batches of food that you can enjoy over the course of the week, or freeze for easy microwaving in future weeks. Your own home cooking, frozen, will almost always be a healthier option than purchased, prepared microwaveable meals.
Compiled and edited by UD nutrition/dietetics students: Emma Newell, Kim Whitbeck & Alexa Nichols