I went through a Rachael Ray infatuation stage about 5 years ago. I never could get one of her 30-minute meals done in under 30 minutes, but I learned a lot. At the time I was still walking so it was fairly easy to get around the kitchen. Navigating a kitchen in a wheelchair is definitely possible with the right setup, but my place has a dry kitchen area (no running sink, except in the bathroom) so I stick to basics. It’s easier to control what you eat and find a nice balance between prepared foods and healthier fare. Here are 7 easy cooking tips I’ve come up with along the way:
1. Paper plates / Plastic silverware / Plastic Cups
I don’t have access to a dishwasher but even if I did I don’t see myself wanting to deal with one. Washing dishes by hand is irritating if your arms don’t work well. I buy the bulk package of paper plates, bowls, and silverware from Sam’s Club and I’m set for months. I also have a huge package of disposable plastic cups for beverages and that works great too.
2. George Foreman is your friend
It’s super easy to grab a frozen chicken breast, steak, or fish filet and throw it on the George Foreman grill. The grill is fast, easy to clean, and healthy. It’s also simple to grill vegetables like zucchini and squash.
3. A toaster oven works wonders
If you don’t want to mess around with a big oven, a simple table-top convection toaster oven is easy to manipulate and allows you to leverage your arms on the table/counter to maneuver things in/out if you have trouble with your arms like I do. I can make personal pizzas (see #6) and bake things and make mini-versions of anything that usually requires a full oven.
4. Kraft instant macaroni and cheese + ?
Instant mac and cheese by itself is a bit plain, but super cheap (18 servings for about $6 at Sam’s Club). However, I have kicked up instant mac and cheese with anything from tuna to tomatoes to leftovers to chicken. One of my favorite tips is to drain a can of fancy soup and pour the guts (meats/veggies/etc) into a freshly prepared dish of instant mac and cheese. Then you’ve got something more substantial without having to chop meats and vegetables.
5. Eggs aren’t bad in the microwave
I like to scramble eggs, throw them in a disposable bowl and cook them in the microwave with pepper or other spices. Sometimes I even throw on some extra cheese. On occasion I will put a few strips of pre-cooked bacon on top and let it sizzle into the eggs. You can also make an easy omelet this way. Lately I’ve been putting a small tortilla into a bowl such that the tortilla becomes a mini-bowl itself. Then I just crack an egg into the tortilla and microwave until the egg is done to my liking. Throw on some cheese and spices and it’s a breakfast burrito in under 2 minutes.
6. Toaster oven pizzas are easy and can be healthy
I could eat pizza all day. This is one reason I like making individual pizzas in the toaster oven. I can make them with whatever I want and then I’m limited to eating just the individual pizza instead of a whole box of delivered pizza. I like to buy thin flat-breads like FlatOut to use for the crust. It crisps up quickly and is lower in calories than prepared pizza crusts. Then I just dump regular jarred spaghetti sauce on top, sprinkle some cheese and add whatever toppings I want. Leftovers make great pizza toppings too. I have made BBQ-pulled pork pizzas, leftover bratwurst pizza, and even macaroni and cheese pizza.
7. Instant coffee is fine with some doctoring
I like coffee but don’t want to mess around with a coffee pot or mugs. So I have a package of disposable hot cups and a jar of instant coffee. Then I add whatever flavorings, milk, or sugar I want to and I don’t have a coffee cup or pot to clean up. I simply microwave the water in the cup and I’m set.
Do you have any handy kitchen tips that might help out someone with a disability?