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Nutrition

10 Easy Kitchen Updates to Make the Room Arthritis-Friendly

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Try these organizing and prep tips.

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When you have osteoarthritis, even everyday tasks like making dinner can be painful and complicated. No matter which joints are affected, OA can impact food prep—from not being able to get a good grip on a knife to slice an onion, to being uncomfortable standing at the stove to cook a soup. But as with other aspects of a healthy, active lifestyle, osteoarthritis doesn’t have to stop you from doing—and eating—the things you love. Managing your kitchen environment can go a long way toward making it easier to prep, cook, and clean up after your favorite meals. Watch the video above to learn some ways to organize your environment and streamline your routines to make it easier to get in the kitchen with osteoarthritis, and read on for even more tips!

Invest in a rolling bar cart: Not only are these stylish home accessories good for storing your pretty glassware, they also make excellent kitchen assistants. Small enough to stay tucked against a wall when not in use, and available at every price point, a rolling bar cart lets you easily bring ingredients from fridge to counter—and later, bring leftovers from counter back to fridge.

Keep knives sharp: The sharper the knife, the more effortlessly it slides through tomatoes, raw chicken, or anything else on your cutting board—and the less work your hands have to do. An electric knife sharpener makes it easy to keep blades in top-chef shape.

Fill (and empty) pots at the stove: Boiling water for pasta? Rather than filling the pot at the sink and carrying the heavy vessel across the kitchen, place the empty pot on the burner, then use a measuring cup or pitcher to carry water from the sink to the pot. Once the pasta is done, use a large stainless steel skimmer tool (also called a “spider”) to remove pasta from cooking water, one scoop at a time, into a lightweight serving bowl or onto your plate.

Put spring-loaded scissors to work: Instead of chopping herbs like basil, parsley, and mint with knife in one hand and other hand trying to corral tiny leaves in one place, snip the leaves into pieces with spring-loaded kitchen shears, which are easier on the joints. Bonus: they’re also useful for cutting pizza and flatbread into slices or thin-sliced meats into bite-sized pieces.

Choose two-handled cookware: From stock pots and saute pans to baking dishes and muffin tins, look for cookware with two sturdy handles, not just one, to give you a more even grip.

Keep heavy items at waist level: In cabinets and the pantry, organize canned foods, jars of sauces, and other heavy items on middle shelves for less bending and straining. In the fridge, adjust shelves so that larger beverage containers are within easy reach.

Automate what you can: A food processor can be used to shred, slice, and chop cheeses, produce, nuts, and more—all at the press of a button. It’s an appliance worth giving up some counter space to permanently. Making soup? An immersion blender can puree it in less than a minute. And a stand mixer is good for more than just baking: use it to shred cooked chicken, whip mashed potatoes, or stir together a salad.

Retrofit corner cabinets with turntable inserts: Even if your cupboards didn’t come with Lazy Susans, you can get rotating cabinet organizers in many different sizes at home improvement and organizing stores—and eliminate having to reach into the dark, far reaches of a cabinet for a key tool or ingredient. They also come in a range of price points, so no kitchen reno necessary!

Shop the salad bar and pre-cut produce section: Sliced cucumbers, cubed butternut squash, and spiralized zucchini may cost a bit more, but the pain and aggravation you’ll save by not prepping them yourself will make it worth it.

Use storage containers with snap-lock lids: Look for containers that have lids with latches that snap-lock to open and close. These require less dexterity to remove than a standard plastic container lids, which can be hard to grab hold of with your fingertips and remove.