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Putting healthy meals on the table means lifting grocery bags, opening jars with lids, dicing and slicing, and handling bulky pots. But all of those activities pose a challenge when you have arthritis. Fortunately, there are plenty of clever solutions you can use to make shopping and meal preparation easier. Here are seven tips for shopping when you have arthritis, followed by six tricks for preparing easy meals at home.

7 Shopping Tips When You Have Arthritis

1. Set Priorities for Shopping/Cooking With Arthritis

“One of the realities of life with arthritis is that you can’t do everything,” says Kate Lorig, professor emeritus at Stanford University and co-author of The Arthritis HelpBook. (Da Capo, 2005). “So it’s important to prioritize what you need to do and what you want to do.” If lifting grocery bags is very difficult for you, consider having heavier items delivered with a grocery delivery service. Then you can be free to shop on your own for items such as fresh fruit and vegetables. If you really love to cook, make cooking a top priority. If not, order in or take advantage of take-out options or the growing selection of pre-cooked foods available at many markets.

2. Make an Arthritis-Friendly Shopping List

By making a list of what you need ahead of time, you’ll avoid unnecessary trips to the store. A list can also help you plan how to move through the grocery store, thus avoiding extra steps and strains on troublesome joints.

3. Avoid Lifting Heavy Bags With OA

If you plan to do your own grocery shopping, shop often so you can buy only what you need in order to avoid having to carry heavy bags. Giant family-sized packages may save money, but lugging them to the car and into your home can be a problem. If you can’t resist the bargains available at big-box stores, consider enlisting a friend or family member to help carry larger items home for you.

4. Think Convenience for Arthritis

“The trend toward convenience foods has been a boon to people with arthritis,” says Kimberly Topp, PhD, professor and chair of the department of physical therapy and rehabilitation services at the University of California, San Francisco. Many markets stock pre-washed salad greens and other vegetables, pre-chopped cabbage for coleslaw, and even sliced fruit. Frozen vegetables are another great way to avoid chopping fresh vegetables. And because produce is typically flash frozen soon after being harvested, frozen vegetables are often just as nutritious as items in the produce section.

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