Fixing food can become a real challenge when arthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in your hands and wrists. Here's how to protect your joints while you get tasty meals on the table. Everything in Its Place For starters, organize your pantry and cupboards to be joint-friendly. Put things you use frequently within easy reach. Store staples like sugar, flour, coffee, and tea on the counter in containers with lightweight, easy-to-remove lids. Instead of stacking heavy pots and pans in cabinets, hang them on wall hooks or pot hangers attached to the ceiling. Put canned goods and spices on lazy Susans to make them more accessible. De-clutter drawers so your hands don't have to dig for the right utensil. Store lighter things on higher shelves and put heavier items down below. You can easily retrieve items from up high or down low with a reacher—a long-handled tool with pincers for grabbing. Keep Meals Simple Select recipes with fewer ingredients that don't require lots of preparation. Or spread preparation out over a couple of days. To minimize mess—and the cleanup it entails—look to one-pot meals like stews, soups, and casseroles. Disposable foil pans or oven-baking bags can also ease cleanup. Or use a slow cooker; you won't have to stir as often, and they're a snap to clean if you use disposable plastic liners. Need a fast cooker? Make a stir fry in a wok. Have a backup plan for days when you don't feel up to cooking. Cook double portions on a good day to provide an easy meal another time. Leftovers or a rotisserie chicken can save time and effort. Choose precut meats, fruits, and vegetables to save your hands. You can also buy veggies like carrots pre-peeled. Cooking potatoes? Leave the peel on; it's easier and healthier. Try These Smart Gadgets Use a double-handled rocker knife or an ergonomically designed knife with a large handle. For thin meats like chicken breasts, sandwiches, lasagna, and other soft foods, hold a pizza wheel with both hands and roll to cut. Consider investing in lightweight cookware. Make pot handles easier to use by wrapping them with foam or tape. Also, two-handled pots that distribute the weight are gentler on hands. For a heavy one-handled pot, support the pot with one hand underneath and grasp the handle with the other. Don't forget to use a silicone glove or oven mitt. Other tools that can save your hands include: Food processor Electric can opener Rubber or electric jar opener Standing mixer Rubber-bottomed mixing bowls that stay put Lightweight utensils with larger handles A lightweight handheld electric drink mixer with a thick handle Thick, easy-to-grip sponges that can go in the wash Savvy Shopping Strategies Plan meals ahead to limit taxing trips to the grocery store. Keep in mind how you can use leftovers in other meals to minimize cooking. Buy milk and juice in half-gallon or quart containers. Choose plastic containers with twist-off tops. Get help transferring the contents of a gallon container to a pitcher for easier pouring. Purchase other foods in smaller containers that will be easier to handle. If you buy items in bulk, ask a family member or friend to help you put them in more manageable containers for storage and use.