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Cooking at Home as We Get Older

Last week, TGB reader, Elizabeth Archerd contacted me with a topic suggestion for Time Goes By:

”...can we talk about how to manage home cooking as we age?

“...My eating habits are great, according to every medical person I know, but whole natural foods do take a certain amount of cooking time. I've been looking for ways to simplify the process to save my damaged hands from pain, which I feel after every holiday meal and increasingly from daily kitchen work.

“I'm curious about how elders are managing food, not just those with my own preferences. What can we preserve, what will we have to expect to give up?”

“Duh,” said I, slapping my forehead while reading Elizabeth's email. More than a dozen years at this blog and it had never crossed my mind that cooking could become difficult as we get older either from waning stamina and strength or something more specific like arthritis.

This fact escaped me even though a few months ago, I bought a mechanical apple peeler to use when I make my monthly batch of apple sauce to freeze because my hand had recently begun cramping from holding the paring knife in one position for too long.

My first thoughts were practical in a general sense: most old people probably shouldn't be climbing onto chairs or ladders so it would be important to move all food, tableware and cooking equipment to shelves that are reachable without a kitchen ladder.

Sometimes food preparation, particularly for special occasions that Elizabeth mentions, can takes longer than feet or legs are willing to hold up. Here is an “angled perching stool” I found at Elder Store that takes the weight off your feet and also supports your back.

It turns out there are dozens and dozens of kitchen aids and gadgets for people who are old, disabled or recovering from surgery or accidents. A few of my favorites:

This one-handed vegetable brush, also available at Elder Store, makes perfect sense. Why didn't I think of that.

Here is what they call a rocking T knife - also known as a mezzaluna to most cooks - that makes it easy to cut fruit, vegetables, herbs or anything else with one hand. It is available at Active Forever and other online stores.

I really like this pan holder that you can find at many shops for elders. It makes stirring with one hand easy and accommodates different sized pots and pans. You can find this at several stores including RehabMart.

I love this. I don't have arthritic hands (yet) but tearing off plastic wrap from the roll is always a war between me and the box. At $9, this is expensive but maybe it's worth it. It's available at Elder Store.

There are a gazillion kinds of gadgets to help open cans and bottles but one caught my attention because it works with pill bottles too. You can find it at the Elder Store where it is called the easy open pill extractor.

Many of these items and others seem to me to be more expensive that they ought to be and I recommend checking for similar ones around the web at such places as Amazon, Google Shopping, Walmart, etc. in addition to the specialty stores I've linked above.

For those of you not in the United States, I came across Arthritis Solutions (don't take all these name too literally) in Australia and Living Made Easy in the United Kingdom. I'm sure there are more.

A couple of other ideas:

Most supermarkets carry already-chopped garlic and onions, fruits and vegetables, varieties of ready-to-use salad greens, etc. Personally, I am leery of packaged fresh produce; although it's been many years ago now, I recall an outbreak of E. coli caused from packaged spinach.

The meat and fish departments of supermarkets where I live are increasingly providing dishes that are dressed, flavored and ready to cook – stuffed peppers, for example, marinated steak, Asian chicken breasts, stuffed salmon, shish- and fish-kebobs, and so on.

To cut down on the amount of cooking, you can also supplement with meal services. My next door neighbor, during the years he cared for his invalid wife, used the local Meals on Wheels program not because he couldn't afford to cook but because it took too much time and effort away from caring for his wife.

Nowadays, there are growing numbers of gourmet home cooking food delivery services with all the fresh or frozen ingredients and instructions for making delicious meals without a lot of effort.

I have no idea if these services are useful or affordable; I haven't tried them. They appear to be expensive but that may not be so when compared to what you spend on food shopping now and whatever value you place on less time in the kitchen.

If, like me, you enjoy cooking but you have to cut back for physical or other reasons, you could combine sometimes cooking with delivery services or meeting friends for lunch or dinner. All of this, of course, depends on what is affordable.

And don't forget cooking ahead. When you have the energy, set aside a morning or afternoon to cook and freeze ready-to-eat meals. I do this most frequently with soup in the winter. I really like seeing the rows of two-cup containers of home-made pea soup, tomato soup, squash soup and others lined up in the freezer. All I do is keep one in the refrigerator defrosting for when I'm too lazy or busy to cook.

Which brings me to you, dear readers. This is the perfect story for crowd-sourcing.

What kitchen gadgets and supplies do you find most helpful nowadays?

What changes in preparation and techniques are you making as you grow older?

What have you given up doing in the kitchen and what have you maintained?

Have there been accidents or other incidents that compelled you to change how you work in the kitchen?

And so on. Give us you best advice on this subject – and thank you Elizabeth Archerd for a terrific idea.

Comments

Thank you Ronni, for the links to resources to help us age more comfortably, especially at home. These items you've highlighted, and others, along with links to where they can be found, are very much appreciated. That cat pill bottle opener is very clever and cute.

Thanks for another great topic, and resources! I'm someone who does love to cook, but have almost given it up not due to the physical constraints, but just the lack of interest. I have for several years been cooking once a week and made lots of left overs which could be microwaved for later meals. Then I would put off until necessary doing the dishes. The clean up from cooking was my bugaboo. I just hate it. And so I've found eating the local senior meals provided by the Council on Aging at the senior center nearby gives me a balanced lunch. I admit to not eating everything served, however. Then a salad or something light for dinner rounds out my diet. I still do frozen meals occasionally. I put cutting boards on the stove and just use it as more counter space most of the time.

1. I cook in three stages: I set everything up--ingredients, pots, utensils and get the prep work done. Then I rest. Next I do the actual cooking. Then I rest. Last is the clean up and filling individual serving containers for future meals. Then I rest. I can't stand for long and breaking it into steps with rest in between works well for now.

2. I get help. My husband is in charge of all chopping. He has never been a kitchen person but he is learning and seems to enjoy it. (Probably should have started this year's ago!)

3. We eat out or get take out once a week.

I am definitely going to look into those resource websites you listed. Thanks!

Great new topic! I love to cook and have been at it since Julia Child days, but now that I live alone I do less of it. Also, I don't have a dishwasher in my senior facility apartment, which means a lot of mess that takes up counter space and is generally a pain. Wielding my good-quality but heavy pots is harder too.

I often make things that last for several meals, like good soups. And I season more, since taste buds seem to get less sensitive. But I still love having people for dinner, though fewer at a time!

Like Florence, I rest between steps. I can still do chopping, but for bigger jobs, I like to use the blade attachment on my food processor. I love it for shredding carrots for salad., for instance.

I wash produce, but I almost never peel anything, including the peels from apples when I make applesauce. I also like using a slow cooker whenever possible. In fact, I prefer slow cooking, or oven cooking to stovetop cooking whenever I can manage.

I make us a lot of one dish suppers. Starch in bottom of bowl, then veggies, then protein.

I like raw veggies better than cooked, in many cases, and they require less work.

Husband grills and is in charge of clean up.

I prefer less processed food. I don't like buying prepped food. But we've discovered the joy of take and bake pizza, from time to time. Thin crust and no tomato sauce for me, please.

For cooking veggies, I usually choose microwaving. And I've perfected a way to poach a single egg in the micro. There are always easier ways to do kitchen things.

I have more trouble with jar lids, than any other thing., though.

A great topic and timely for me. I very much appreciate Florence's tips above: resting at various stages. I need to do this now, as standing for a long time does my back in. I've always loved cooking, always from scratch, and generally double and treble up the quantities to put in the freezer for future days.

Many thanks Ronni - another winner.

Thankfully I do not need any gadgets for help in the kitchen. Being a recent widow, cooking for myself has become more of a chore vs a joy. So I roast a huge pan of all kinds of veggies, a chicken, a small pork/beef roast , once a week and I am done. All can be reheated or eaten in salads or used for quick throw togethers i.e pulled pork sandwich. Winter it's soups that are frozen. Last but not least I never say no to an invite to dine out -:)

What thoughtfulness and usefulness are contained both in your article, Ronni, and in the accompanying comments.

Yes, at a 85 I find myself having to sit down along the way as I cook, if it's anything more than boiling a few eggs. (By the way, somebody refresh me on how to cook these so they peel easily later?)

The pain I get from cooking is in my back, and it does tend to take the joy out of it for a while. I admit to occasionally taking an Advil or other "pain pill," but it's not a big habit.

I no longer do much baking (as of cookies, pies, etc.) and I do miss it, but as you all know, some things have gotta give when the years pile up on us. I do appreciate it whenever God gives me the strength to cook a good meal or so and today I'm doing some marinating before roasting for the first time. We'll see if the meat is tender as it should be--if so, hip, hip hooray! And if not, I'll wish myself better luck next time.

Best to all, Barbara

Thanks for all these links! Don't need them now, but who knows??? I'm trying to keep it simple, healthy, and in batches, because cooking a whole meal every evening is too much. And yes, seeing good soups in the freezer is a delight.

Trader Joe's! You get the convenience of not "really cooking" because so many things come in microwaveable form, yet the economy of "eating at home." If you never loved cooking, this is a great option a few nights a week.

Hate to cook for one so I do a slow crock pot meal once a week & get the salad bar at the grocery store once or 2x during the week. Also drink lots of V-8 for my veggies!!

Many thanks to Kate for the roaster meal idea. That I will give a try. Never bake, never did after the kids were gone from home. Occasionaly will buy a small pack of cookies & I do love my yogurt to which I add shaved almonds. Like having dessert! Thanks for this great post. Dee:)

Gratefully, I have no difficulty with cooking other than the desire to do so. I rarely entertain and people seem to have so many different problems with food - allergies, likes and dislikes etc, that it's too much of a chore...easier to meet for lunch or dinner.

To Barbara- I found that steaming the eggs is the best way to cook them for easy peeling. Just google 'steamed eggs' for the info.

Thanks Ronni, for the important links, I'll pass the information on to friends who have some difficulty with kitchen chores. I hope there is a special place in Hades for the person who invented the "pull-top" can with never a thought to how difficult they are for many of us, especially those with arthritis. The first time my husband tried it opening a can of cat food he sliced his thumb quite badly and he was wary of them since then.

Dear Ronni....I hate to cook. There are many out there like me. If it didn't make me fat and lazier, I would eat out every meal or buy frozen foods. Since that doesn't work with my pre-diabetes, I cook very simple things at home most nights. Yogurt for Breakfast. Usually cottage cheese for lunch, and mostly protein for dinner.

Tools. My old three pronged forks don't work with the modern pot coatings, I use them anyway. The best new thing I have in my kitchen is my Bosh dishwasher.

We have been subscribing to one of the delivery services you mentioned so I thought I would share why we use it. Each week we get three meals for 2 delivered for $59. (no additional tax or shipping and the first week is around $10 to try it out. ) We chose the "omnivore" menu (one seafood, and two with chicken, pork, beef) but there are other options (vegetarian, etc.) and you can skip a week or two whenever you choose. The seafood is sustainably caught and veggies are organic. The food arrives chilled but not frozen.

We appreciate the variety of recipes from various types of cuisine, a lot of African, Mediterranean and Asian influences. But the main thing is: we don't have to buy a huge bunch of parsley if we only need a tablespoon or a package of steaks if we need one. Portions are reasonable and around 650-700 calories. We provide olive oil, salt and pepper, everything else is included. Lots of chopping and zesting but with the right cooking tools, I got better at it over time and can prepare a gourmet meal in 30 minutes.

For a single person, you could easily eat the remaining portion for the following day's dinner or hearty lunch. Many recipes could make 3 lighter meals. I bought it for my single daughter when she was between jobs and she loved it! Some meals can be spicy so I am careful to use less than what is provided. This week's menus: Roasted Pork (Bao) Steam Buns (yummy!) with spicy cabbage slaw, Spicy Chicken with Harissa, Dates and Chickpeas, Seared Salmon and Fall vegetables. I would NEVER try all these unusual ingredients unless I got them through this service. We were getting bored with my same old, same old dishes! Consumer Reports just did a great article comparing some of the major meal delivery services.

There will be challenges aplenty as my eyesight continues to decline. I'll get some advice and help from the Dept. for the Blind, but shopping and cooking will become radically different.

I now live in an indempendent living senior cooperative. There will be oppotunities to share cooking/dining with neighbors.

When I was choosing the decor and appliances for my unit, I upgraded to a front controlled glass top stove. I was astonished that the default stoves in this senior living situation were all rear control units. It's not only dangerous to reach across a hot cooking surface to change settings, but with failing eyes, seeing the control settings is much easier with front controls.

My husband does his own cooking. He scoots around the kitchen on a roller stool like those used in Drs offices etc. His legs are not reliable and his balance is precarious, so the stool works great for him. But he is also losing his ewyesight. We are quite a challenged pair.

Ronni, thanks for the links to resources that might be useful to us. I use a head worn LED light to illuminate the preparaton area. Hubby has raised dots stuck on his stove and microwave controls.

In case there's some confusion about our dual situations, we live in the same building but have our separate apartments. We decided that we would be much happier as captains of our own ships and we are.

Cat Food Cans - I use a spoon to lift up the pop-tab

Grocery shopping - I love Aldi, and hope everyone on a limited income gets one soon. I don't buy their meats, and they don't have everything I need, so I also shop at my local Co-op grocery. (it's an IGA) They package meats in small servings, for 1-2 people, but also have the larger family packs.

Slow cooker - I use it to develop flavor in chowders, stews, and sauces, especially spaghetti sauces.

Leftovers - I package in mason jars, for easy portioning. They freeze fine if you leave room between the food and the lid.

Back pain - I have a few conditions that make it impossible for me to stand up for more than 2-3 minutes, but I love to cook! I got a simple wooden bar stool from the thrift store for $7 and since I have a small galley kitchen, I can perch with my stove at my right hand, my prep counter in front of my, and my sink a swing around 180 degrees. I too do all my prep a few hours before I actually cook, and I find it make me more thoughtful about spices and "how can I use this leftover ____?"

I recently bought a swivel stool for the shower, and I love it. I asked the manufacturer if they make one in counter-height for use in the kitchen, but unfortunately they don't. I think it would be a big seller, since if you can't stand up in the shower, you can't stand up too cook. I'm not sure their marketing department is seeing behind the stereotype of "old and feeble" and into "active elders with a few hitches in their giddy-ups."

One other cooking tip - I have watch "Chopped" with devotion since it first aired. The premise of the show is that 4 contestants are given a series of 3 baskets full of ingredients that don't seem to go together. The cooks must create appetizers, entrees, and desserts in a set time period. It has been an invaluable to help me get creative with a mish-mash of leftovers and a couple-days-til-the-check-comes-in pantry raids...i.e. applesauce, cream of mushroom soup, frozen raviolli, and day-old bread. It's not all professional chefs - sometimes panels of cafeteria ladies, grandparents, teens, or caterers.

Finally - Breakfast for Dinner! An easy quiche can last 6 meals, pancakes with fruit, or hash.

Opening jars can be frustrating for me, so I keep an 8" x 2" long piece of that rubberized shelf liner (net type) in my 'utensils' drawer. Generally a couple taps with the blade or handle of a standard metal table knife along the outer edge of a metal lid, and gripping with the rubberized piece does the trick. If push comes to shove, I have an oil filter remover out in the garage that will grip larger jars and the handle provides the leverage to get the job done.

The plastic wrap annoys me too, but why not use a razor scraper or paring knife to slice along the edge of plastic wrap that's been pulled out. Anyone with a glass top stove has a razor scraper somewhere handy.

I'm with all you soup lovers, and will do a 'kitchen sink' style soup with whatever needs using in the fridge. A splash of wine in the sauteing veggies or meat, and lots of spices will make anything delicious. In a pinch, a packaged Taco seasoning mix is a sure fire seasoning.

I love macaroni and cheese, but I never bake it anymore. Just make a white sauce, dump in the shredded cheese to melt and stir it into the pasta.

I also love a simple quick meal of microwave baked potato (poke with a knife, wrap in paper towel and zap for 4-5 minutes) broiled or fried steak or meat patty, and quickly steamed zucchini.

Keep it simple is the rule for me now. If it isn't simple it better feed me for 3-4 more meals (enchiladas, yum!).

Thanks to Lola for the tip about steamed eggs. Peeling hard boiled eggs drives me nuts.

Sulibran (and everyone else), the very best tool I've found for opening jar lids is the Lee Valley Jar Opener from Lee Valley Tools (Google it). It releases the vacuum, and then the lids open easily. Yes, it costs $ 9.95, but it is worth its weight in gold. No more needing two people to open a jar of applesauce, pasta sauce, etc.!

Apropos cooking, I'm doing less and less of it.... I do love to make a big pot of soup and have it in the refrigerator, often freezing a carton or two, also, for later. It's harder and harder to find interesting variety, though, since I am on an anti-inflammatory diet for MS and thus avoiding dairy, gluten (and preferably all grains) and sugar.

I really *should* simplify things enough to get items off the top shelves in the kitchen, so I don't have to climb on a chair or stool. I'll try to do more of that. Problem is that even the next to the top shelf is too high for short me to reach without a stool.

My husband does most of the cooking, so I'm the reheating and creative combination leftover person, plus clean up. However, a recent week of family house guests when my husband was sick meant I had to cook too. I received a padded floor mat as long as my counter (in 2 pieces) as a gift, so I can stand comfortably for longer periods of time. I recommend it. It has slanted sides and a liner that keeps it from slipping, so I've had no problem with tripping. I prepare simple foods, sandwiches, salads, some things from the freezer such as roast beef. Desserts are fruit, usually grapes or sliced apples (unpeeled, and I have an apple corer/slicer that is easy to use). I have a couple of different gadgets for opening jar lids, I have an expensive hand-operated can opener, the knives are sharp because they cut and peel with less effort. I steam eggs also, using our rice steamer which came with instructions for that; I find older eggs and plunging the eggs into very cold water and cooling them quickly help make peeling easier.

My favorite accommodation, however, is a good meal out, bringing part of it home for the next day.

I don't really "cook" much. Quick and easy is the rule, which means mostly one-dish stovetop and microwave cooking. Works well when cooking for just one.

The only problem I've really had so far is getting some jar lids and various twist-off caps off. Bought one promising looking gadget, but it slipped on the lid and on the counter and was useless. The cheapest, most effective solution I found was something I already had -- those little flat textured rubber "pancakes" that I've had around for years. Perfect. They provide a good grip, never slip, and work on any size cap or lid. Plus, they take up no room in the drawer.

Good topic...we do not eat meat, dairy, nor eggs. For the past 5 years we have had a plant based diet.....also no oil since husband had quadruple bypass surgery 3 years ago and he is very careful about oil when we eat out. Our choices are limited but we like our soup/salad place and Vietnamese Pho that has selections with vegie broth and tofu. One can blend good salad dressings from ripe avocados, tofu, etc.

I like to cook but keep it simple.... we eat lots of brown rice and beans, lentils, split peas, veggies and potatoes. I roast veggies in the oven too. It is easy to make beans in the pressure cooker, or the slow cooker. Trader Joe's has a vegetarian pizza with no cheese or tomato sauce so we add lots of fresh veggies, and no oil spag sauce to those and they are delicious. Most prepared foods and canned foods have too much sodium so we try to avoid them but sometimes use them. I rinse canned beans.

My husband makes a huge bowl of salad periodically...I prefer arugala so have been eating that for my salad, sometimes with beets.

I buy pkg fresh garlic cloves from a big box store that I keep in the freezer. I do have arthritis in my hands and feel it after chopping a lot of veggies, but prefer fresh to frozen - only use canned beets, and art. hearts, and corn.

I need to make soup today.

Wow, these are great resources, Ronnie! I also found a device at Amazon called the Instant Pot. It is an electric appliance that combines the functions of pressure cooker (multiple safety features so it is never dangerous) slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and you can sauté in it before moving on to the cooking setting. The key for my hands is that all cooking steps happen in one pan and there is only one light stainless steel pan to pull out and clean.

Thanks, all of you!

Nothing has changed in my culinary habits or processes, but I suspect that I may need to re-think a bit come the day I can no longer sling hefty Le Creuset cookware around with ease.

Thank you for this post. I am a widow...16 years...and I hate cooking for myself. One of the things that was a joy before is now a reminder of aloneness. I do however make things in batches like my favorite...Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup. Makes enough for 6 servings. Vegetarian Chili.....potatoe leek soup with bacon...all of these I freeze in mayonnaise jars.... And of course, since I was married to an Italian for 38 years, the old standby...spaghetti sauce...
I make these things in batches when I am in the mood and then I can just defrost and eat...

We got an electric kettle, with automatic shut-off, because we kept forgetting the kettle was on, and we burned out several kettles on our stove.

The slow cooker -- otherwise known as the crock pot -- is a godsend. You can do roasts with vegetables, beef or lamb stew, beef stroganoff, applesauce, oatmeal, all kinds of chicken recipes, soups, BBQ ribs, chili, beef and macaroni casserole, pulled pork, meat balls, califlower with cheese sauce, baked ham, any number of rice dishes, bread pudding, pudding cakes, and the list goes on.

You do very little except toss the ingredients into the cooker, set it for 4 or 8 hours and put the lid on. You can get several meals with one cooking. Store or freeze your leftovers in portion-controlled containers.

I'm a foodie. I love to cook. I use to collect cookbooks and read them like novels. I subscribed to Gourmet. I have RSS feeds to several cooking blogs on my homepage. I am one of those people who actually enjoys grocery shopping.

This said, I tire more easily now. I used to do batch cooking and still do, I don't like cooking every single day, but I now find the whole process from prepping to cooking to cleaning up to sometimes be physically tiring. Sometimes, I leave the clean up to the next day.

I have found recipes that are wholesome and tasty and easy to execute. I feel better nourished when I prepare my meals at home. For those times when I don't feel like cooking, I will pick up something from Whole Foods or Mariano's which have hot food bars.

BTW, Consumer Reports magazine recently did a review of 4 or 5 home delivery meal services.

Wonderful post and comments and welcome information.
I found that if I wait until dinner time to cook I'm too tired, arthritic, and uninterested and tend to snack instead of make a meal. Now I cook dinner in the morning, after breakfast when I am fresh, and refrigerate it until evening. I always cook enough for two or three meals when I cook so that I don't have to do it every day.

A few years ago my younger son gave me one of the best gifts I've ever gotten ... an electric jar opener! It pops those tops right off, slick as can be ... any size and darn near any height! My hands are not very big to start with and now I have painful arthritis in most of my figures. It's been a life saver!

The mezzaluna has been one of every cook's favorite tools for many years. It's wonderful for cutting cold butter into flour to make biscuits with .... etc.

The problem with the gourmet home cooking food delivery services is that they don't make low-sodium options. Most older folks would benefit from low-sodium choices and some can't do without.

I live in Midtown Manhattan, where one rarely has to cook, if like me (and many New Yorkers) you would rather not. I hesitate to post this in view of all the comments here by avid cooks!
There are 2 markets near me that offer hot cooked food (Morton Williams and Whole Foods) and Fresh Direct delivers meals, sides and salads...the meals aren't frozen but steamed and you just nuke them.
I prepare breakfast but buy soups and sandwiches for lunch at a nearby shop or deli.
If I do cook, it's usually pasta or baked potato or rice and veggies or I prepare salads (also available all ready to mix). When my family was growing (3 children) I cooked all meals 7 days a week, baked and so on...no more!
For holidays I ask family to help prepare food or order some of it out...last Christmas the turkey, which was supposed to be pre-cooked, wasn't, leading to much discussion about how long in the oven and so forth.
Obviously, this lifestyle is too expensive for families but suitable for a single person with a small appetite. And I haven't even touched on the restaurant delivery options. I have a kitchen stool but mainly use it as extra counter space.
One useful tip I read about is wearing rubber gloves to open jars (or screw top wine bottles) and it works.
All praise and admiration to TGB readers, and Ronni ( who remembers her NYC days) who can whip up soups and applesauce!

So many useful comments and suggestions!

I've never had the slightest interest in cooking, and that hasn't changed with age. I lost a lot of weight in my 20s, and part of the "secret" to keeping it off has involved not returning to the foods of my youth. My husband's father was a master chef, who was continuously employed throughout the Great Depression feeding crews aboard the Alaska Steamship Lines. So, it's not hard to figure out who was far and away the best cook in our household. However, it's not something he likes to spend a lot of time on now, especially since we don't eat full-course meals very often.

During our working years we worked very different schedules, frequently ending late in the evening, so dinner was either takeout or catch-as-catch-can. Now we eat mostly prepared dinner salads--our supermarket has some very good ones--with an occasional break (chicken, a steak or lamb chops and fresh salmon when it's on sale).

Eventually we may try a food delivery service, and the comments in this post have been informative.

Great topic, great comments, thanks Ronni! Some good olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar drizzled over fresh or leftover veggies are a good addition. And that's my only addition to all this useful information!

I have one jar-opening tool so far that I bought at an antique store in Florida--couldn't live without it. Have to ask younger folks to open the water bottles when I'm out, though. I definitely will look into a few of your suggestions.

Just curious--is there a really good reason why you make your own apple sauce?

Carol Roberts...
Because I have some every day with my breakfast oatmeal and there is no such thing as good commercial apple sauce. It's all baby food - bland, no chunks or spices. Also, it's fun to experiment with different kinds of apples.

I loved cooking for many years and love not cooking much now. I'm a ovo(eggs, butter)pesce(fish)vegetarian, and fortunately live in CA where I can also indulge my preference for organic goods. CA also has higher standard for organic than the USDA.

My main shopping is done at the Farmers Market every Sunday and my most used kitchen item is a big ol salad spinner. Soaking all the veggies and cut up lettuces, etc., spinning them, then cooking some of them. Leaving a small amount of water in the bottom, I leave the lettuce and other greens(spinach, chard,kale) in the spinner and keep it in the fridge where it lasts a week and the greens stay wonderfully crisp. Also cook weekly amount of oatmeal and dole out daily amounts.

Also steam vegetables to last a week. Vegetable protein comes from tofu, black beans and rice together, or hummus with wholewheat pita toasted. So I barely need to cook. Also cook soups to freeze and freeze many fruits in summer.

Like Wendl I'm slowly giving up my good but heavy cookware and put everything except myself in the dishwasher.

Next project is to clean out kitchen of unused wares and placing daily used tableware, etc., in easy-to-reach spots. So far I'm able, but aware that my limitations will become the norm.

Thanks to all for valuable contributions!

I'm 75 and have arthritis but it's mostly manageable except when I do too much something. I enjoyed this article and comments very much, though. I'm tackling lack of interest in cooking. I wonder whether I was traveling so much so I could eat food other people fixed. So when I was in England last month I decided to cook some more interesting food. I bought a new cookbook too.

It's working well except for one thing I have to share with others cause too much frozen food is building up. I'm making carrot-ginger soup today but still haven't finished the wonton soup and sauteed chicken livers with greens. I took most of the muffins, though, to a meeting where they were well enjoyed.

I use a very small stainless steel pot for all my cooking. Morning its rolled oats in milk/water, sugar spooned on top.

In the same pot, mid-afternoon, its veggies (chopped: cauliflower, sweet potato, green beans) boiled in small amount of water with salt, switch off heat, and leave covered for say 10minutes. Add couscous to absorb extra water (optional). Or add previously cooked chickpeas, lentils, boiled eggs, etc for protein. Optional: add a few salad leaves, chopped tomato, leftover meat curry, etc. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce, freshly ground pepper and eat.

Dessert is yougurt, with nuts. Or small cup of chilled milk with heaped tablespoon good quality drinking chocolate.

In warm weather, I also make freshly squeezed juice with whatever fruit I have in fridge. My teeth get tart quickly so prefer juice to fruit.

just a little addendum for those who have difficulty peeling hard-boiled eggs. When you take them off the stove, drain and run cold water onto them. Then leave in cold water until you're ready to use them. The shells slip off nice and easy with a little tap on the side of the pan.

Crack all the shell before you start peeling. And always start your peeling from the thick end. The egg has a small amount of liquid there. Cracking the shell there releases the liquid inside the shell and makes the rest of the shell easy to remove.

For what it's worth. I still mess up about 1 egg out of 3.

I left a comment early on this post, but want to weight in again now after coming back to read the large number of comments that have been left since then. This has become a very interesting collection of experiences and suggestions and I have immensely enjoyed reading them. Thank you, everyone who contributed to them. Ronni, are you aware of any good cookbooks specifically done for older cooks? I can't recall having come across any.

Oops - that should have been "weigh in', although I suppose 'weight' might have been a Freudian slip in a comment on a post about cooking .

What a great topic.... Never considered the changes aging might have on my cooking practices. One thing I have noticed is that I have to very deliberately consider the quantity I want to cook. Like I'm still providing meals for family of hungry children. I love abundance and cooking reasonable quantities for one or two seems meager and sad. Cooking for leftovers leaves us eating the same meal for a week and my pesky memory makes freezer orphans of the meals I tuck away for later. Also risky behavior for old people... Eating strange (read questionable) leftovers.

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