A few tweaks to your kitchen setup can keep RA from ruining your joy of cooking. Start by finding a sturdy stool that's the right height for sitting in front of your counter or stovetop. Now you won't have to stand while chopping or stirring.
Use a Toaster Oven
When possible, do your baking, broiling, and reheating in a toaster oven or countertop microwave. This will spare your joints the stress of stooping to use a traditional oven or reaching up to use an overhead microwave.
Hang Your Pots and Pans
Keep yourself from bending over by storing the items you use the most at arm level. Instead of crouching to dig pots and pans out of cabinets, hang them on wall hooks or from a ceiling rack.
Store Ingredients in Easy Reach
Keep cooking oil, seasonings, and other common ingredients on your counter or place on a lazy susan so they're always within comfortable reach. Store sugar, flour, coffee, and tea on the counter in containers with easy lift-off lids.
Switch to Ergonomic Utensils
A few well-designed kitchen utensils can make a big difference. An ergonomic knife with a large handle lets you use your body weight to slice instead of your hand or wrist. Padded handles make spatulas and other utensils more comfortable to grip. And two-handled pots and pans are a must. Distributing the weight across both hands makes carrying easier.
The repeated motions of chopping, mincing, or mixing can be hard on your joints. Let small electric appliances do some of the work for you. An immersion blender or handheld drink mixer can get your whisking done quickly and painlessly. A food processor is perfect for mincing and shredding. And an electric jar opener takes away the strain of twisting off lids.
Put Your Fridge on a Leash
If you have trouble opening the door to your fridge, tie a scarf or leash around the handle and knot it into a circle. Hook your arm through the loop and pull the door open with your upper body.
Fill Pots Cup by Cup
When you need to fill a pot, set it on the stove empty. Use a measuring cup or pitcher to transfer water from the sink in amounts you can manage. If your sink is far from your stove, set your pot on a rolling plant stand. Roll it up to the sink, fill it cup by cup, and then roll in back to the stove.
Use a Slow Cooker
Don't spend a lot of time standing over the stove to make meals. Let a slow cooker do the work for you. Add pre-sliced frozen vegetables, meat, liquid, and seasoning. Then you can be kitchen-free until your hot, home-cooked meal is ready.
Wash Dishes by Hand
Forget all that bending to load and unload a dishwasher. Hand-wash your dishes, and let the warm water soothe your joints. Set clean dishes in a rack to air dry, so you won't have to towel them off.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Whenever you cook, double the ingredients so you have a second meal to freeze. This gives you an easy solution for those days when your joints are particularly achy -- or when you just feel like a night off from cooking.