It’s Fab Friday (Saturday, oops), and this week I’ve rounded up my favorite kitchen gadgets that help make cooking easier for me as a Spoonie! Hopefully some of these suggestions might be helpful for others of you out there in the chronic illness/mental health community. Here are 13 Essential Chronic Illness Kitchen Gadgets!
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1. Food Processor
My family didn’t have a food processor when I was growing up, and neither did my husband’s family, but my mom encouraged me to register for one for our wedding, and I’m so glad I did! It slices! It dices! It mixes! It grinds! It can save you time and save you pain from chopping and slicing. I have a friend who makes cheesecake, both crust and filling, in his food processor, and it’s the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life. I have this mini food processor, which holds three cups and works well for most things, but if I had a bigger kitchen with more storage space and/or had a bigger family to feed, I’d get a full sized one in a heartbeat.
2. Ulu Knife
Speaking of slicing and dicing, an ulu knife is super handy when it comes to slicing, dicing, and mincing. It’s a curved blade that you rock back and forth to chop things. It’s easy to use one-handed, and it produces less hand fatigue than a standard knife. You want to make sure that you get one that comes with a curved wooden cutting board and a knife stand, too, like the set pictured above. Ulu knives are sharp, so you don’t want to just throw one into your cooking utensils drawer or something. Ours sits in its stand on the counter, sharp and ready to go.
3. Good Knives
And I guess while we’re on the topic of knives, my husband would chide me if I didn’t mention a good set of kitchen knives here. Good, sharp kitchen knives that actually fit specific food and preparation tasks are so helpful. Just make sure you keep them sharp–you’re more likely to cut yourself using a dull knife than a properly sharpened one (a dull knife is more likely to slip or cut improperly). We have the J.A. Henckels Zwilling Pro: S knives, which are great to work with, but they can be hella expensive (we got them as hand-me-downs). You can go mid-line and still get some good knives from Henckels, so that’s what I’d recommend.
4. Under Cupboard Jar Opener
I grew up with one of these in the kitchen, and it’s a life-saver! I have what can be considered at best “inconsistent grip strength” due to my rheumatoid arthritis, so this little device grants me independence in the kitchen. Before we installed one in our kitchen (you attach it under a cupboard), if I couldn’t open a jar it meant I couldn’t eat what I planned on eating. When all you’re trying to do is make a quick PB&J when your blood sugar is crashing, this little gadget can be the difference between taking care of yourself and having a meltdown. Get one and empower yourself! No jar shall vanquish you, you mighty human!
5. Electric Can Opener
There is no need to waste your strength opening cans manually. Let a robot do it for you!
6. Electric Kettle
I will never be without an electric kettle in my kitchen. Partly because I’ve been drinking tea every morning with breakfast since I was sixteen, and partly because they’re so useful and so much smarter than a stove top kettle. An electric kettle will turn off automatically when it reaches the right temperature, and some kettles even have warming features to keep your water at the temperature you want until you tell it to stop. My kettle holds pride of place on my kitchen counter because I use it every day.
7. Immersion Blender
Blenders are heavy and bulky and take up lots of space. An immersion blender is lighter, more compact, and tucks away in a drawer. It also can save you time and effort on dishes since you don’t have to transfer whatever you want to blend to a blender pitcher. I make potato leak soup pretty regularly, which requires some light blending, and I can blend it right in the pot. We bought this immersion blender because it can crush ice, and we have no regrets.
8. Stand Mixer
If you like baking, do yourself a favor and get a stand mixer! Mixing by hand will tire you out quickly, chronic illness or not, and even holding a handheld electric mixer can be taxing for a Spoonie. Stand mixers are awesome. These are the golden standard (pretty, powerful, and versatile!), but they are heavy. There are other great options out there that are lightweight and less expensive—look for one with a plastic body instead of metal, for starters. I have one similar to this one, and it’s still working great after nine years of use!
9. Pull-out Drawers for Cabinets
Cabinets are stupid; drawers rock. Seriously, if I ever get the chance to design my own kitchen, there will be no shelves in my lower cabinets. There will be drawers instead. In the meantime, you can install a system like this so you don’t have to get down on the floor and dig for the right pot lid. (That’s not just me, right?) Side note: the word “drawer” is really weird.
10. Lightweight Frying Pan
Speaking of pots and pans, they can be really heavy! If you are able to find a lighter-weight set, that’s awesome. My grandma gave me the frying pan from this set for Christmas a few years ago, and I love it because it’s super lightweight and non-stick, so it’s easy to use and easy to clean. I hardly ever reach for my other frying pans anymore. Here’s a similar one, weighing in at only 12 ounces! Also, you can’t see it in the pic above, but the outside of the pan is a bright and cheery yellow!
A stool might be helpful for anyone, really, but especially for people like me who are, well, a little shrimpy. I happen to have very very tall cupboards in my kitchen (four shelves, and I can only reach the second one. Half my kitchen cupboard space is inaccessible to me without using a stool.). This little stool is lightweight and easy to collapse and store away, if you need just a little boost (handy)! It’s also extra wide so you have better stability, and it can support up to 350 pounds. Being a small person in a tall kitchen, I need more than a little boost, so I use one like this, which has a safety rail to grip to keep me steady.
11. Fridge with a Freezer Drawer
This isn’t exactly a gadget so much as a full-blown appliance, but I can’t tell you what a difference this has made for me. Our top-freezer model fridge (this is similar to what we had) kicked the bucket two summers ago (while we were gone on vacation, of course), and my one goal in replacing it was to get a model with the freezer on the bottom. It’s nothing terribly fancy, but our new fridge (similar here) makes a huge difference since you don’t have to double yourself over every time you need to get something from the fridge. Plus the freezer drawer is way easier to manage that the cabinet style freezer we had before. Nothing can avalanche on you while you’re hunting for the Ben & Jerry’s!
12. Portable Dishwasher
13. Eco-Friendly Disposable Dishes
Sometimes even loading the dishwasher is too much, and that’s where disposable dishware comes in. It’s great to have something disposable on hand, except you don’t want to destroy the environment, so you should see if you can choose something eco-friendly! These plates are made from palm leaves and are compostable , recyclable, and even safely burnable (great for camping!), plus they’re a cool-looking upgrade from paper plates. You can find eco-friendly cups, bowls, and cutlery, too!
That’s a wrap for this Chronic Illness Kitchen Gadgets roundup! But what about you? Do you have any cool kitchen gadgets that would help a Spoonie out? Let me know in the comments!
Have an awesome weekend!
You might also like:
- Fab Friday: Sick Day Self-Care
- Fab Friday: Anxiety and Panic Attack Recovery Care
- Fab Friday: How to Make Your House Feel Like Spring