Do you struggle to prepare food due to a disability? So do I. My Cerebral Palsy makes it hard to complete two-handed tasks, but here are some work arounds.
As many of my followers know, I have right hemiplegia—a type of Cerebral Palsy that affects my right limbs. When many tasks in the world are made for the average two-handed individual, you really have to get creative when you have a disability and can only use one hand as a result. This ranges from how you have your hair, how you dress and how you prepare food.
Here are some of the things that I use for cooking, and yes, many of them are already prepared food.
Buying frozen food is actually really common now, so I am surprised how much stick I have got from people in the past when I have told them that I use frozen vegetables.
Yes, that does happen and it used to happen quite frequently. Mostly, because they have this pre-conception that fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier than frozen.
What they don’t realise, and in many cases, don’t want to believe, is that that is a myth.
Frozen food is healthier
Yes. It is a myth that fresh food is healthier than frozen food. I am sure you can find this online if you wanted to. I discovered this when I was watching TV in my living room. There was a documentary that discussed the difference between frozen and fresh vegetables.
The documentary showed how fresh vegetables use their vitamins within minutes from being plucked, and by the time they are put in the store and sold to you they are at least 3-4 days old, meaning they have lost many of the benefits you are meant to get with the vegetables.
However, the frozen vegetables lost very little vitamins, the vitamins that they start to lose while they are still fresh, and maintain all the benefits that we need from them.
So, the fresh vegetables aren’t actually that fresh but the frozen ones are! Don’t feel ashamed for not using fresh ingredients.
It’s not just the vegetables that I cook from frozen either. My freezer contains frozen meat that is already sliced or diced up. Roast Potatoes that are the perfect size and many other items that are useful to me.
Mashed Potato has recently been added to this list. With no strength to make mashed potato from “fresh” potatoes, I have always had to use alternatives. It used to be instant mash, but that was hard to get the texture right. Sometimes I would make it as runny as sleet, other times it would be as hard as one of Hagrid’s Rock Cakes…
So dad and I decided to try frozen mashed potato. It looks strange, like chips but.. chips that don’t stay solid. You put them in the microwave for 5 minutes and you have mashed potato. It tastes nice too!
Iceland is your friend
So, if you are like me and you struggle to cut and chop ingredients, definitely make use of your closest Iceland (it’s usually cheaper too).
However, there is a downside to this. With most of my food in the freezer, if the freezer breaks down, there is a chance that a months worth of food just goes down the drain, as Lizzie and I found out in the LAST week of our halls…
it wasn’t worth getting any frozen food for that week as it is very difficult to make a variety of food with a week’s worth of frozen food… it’d be the same meal or 2 for the whole week. Nope, our last week was expensive in takeaways and microwavable food!
Don’t worry though, insurance paid out! And we charged for the food too.
Tins, Jars and Instant Food
Of course, not everything can be frozen. When you cannot chop food up, if it’s not available frozen, then it must be available in tins and jars, right? Most of the time, at least.
Honestly, I would not be able to live independently if frozen food, tins and jars did not exist. Even so, when you have a disability, there is always going to be that one person who judges you for your methods.
Anyway, when I need something that I cannot get frozen and cannot make myself due to my inability to cut things up, I turn to food that has been stored in tins and jars. This is great as I am able to get them cheaply and just follow the instructions on the container while cooking. It probably saves a lot of time compared to cooking with fresh ingredients which is rare in the world of disability where everything usually takes much longer.
The only issue I tend to have with tins and jars is getting them open. I do have a post that I have written with various suggestions if you re looking for a jar opener, and I am currently in the process of writing a post for tin openers so be on the look out for that.
I don’t really use instant food much, but I used to use it for the mashed potatoes and it does help with some foods, such as stuffing and gravy. The principle is really simple and as long as you can hold your jug or mixing bowl still (or place it on something that can) then it is really easy to use.
There are many instant items from stuffing, mashed potato, gravy and, apparently a student favourite, noodles. So lots of things to choose from really.
Now, this is one method that does cost more. In the past, I have used preprepared microwavable vegetables, though not often. But one food item I do have no other choice than to microwave and that is Rice.
You can get a bag of microwavable rice from Sainsbury’s or similar for £1 a packet and it serves 2-3 people. I find this a bit annoying as you can also get a box of 6 packets that contain rice which you boil in bag for the same amount and each of those packets also serve 2-3 people. So I have to pay 6 times as much because I cannot boil rice. Ah well, at least the other methods are cheaper.
microwavable rice only takes 2 minutes to… bake? in the microwave.
I often combine all three of these methods when I am cooking and when I prepare food. Especially if I am cooking a curry. I add the meat and the veg into the pan with the sauce that is in a jar and put the microwavable rice into the microwave.
I hope you have found this insightful and it has helped others who are struggling with some items. Have I missed something or is there something I can add? Please let me know in the comments.
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