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Broken arm--easy food to cook?

I was recently in an automobile accident leaving me in a cast from palm to elbow. Luckily it was my left (I'm right-handed). I live alone so eating/cooking is a one woman show. Anyone have any ideas for some easy meals that don't involve microwave meals, canned soup, or cereal?

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  1. I recently made a delicious new burger. Ground chicken, rosemary, garlic and dijon mustard (I throw in some cayenne). Make into patty, serves on a bun with pickles and mayo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojoeater

      mixing things w/1 hand has proved problematic. And there's the difficulty in holding a burger w/only one hand . . .

    2. What about chili or a crockpot stew? Both require a bit of prep but chopping onions/cutting up beef should remain pretty easy. And the cooking is done on the stove for a long time or in a crockpot - for an even longer time, with little needed from you other than a stir of the chili on occasion. :-)

      (And sorry about your accident - hope the cast isn't going to be on TOO long!)

      1. Can you hold down food (onion, pepper, carrot etc.) with your left hand while chopping with your right? Otherwise--wow---it's going to be tough.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Glencora

          I had more or less exactly your cast situation and cause two years ago and cooking was a total aggravation. Anything that involved chopping was difficult, but I found especially that with garlic and onion, even when I could hold them relatively well (after a couple weeks of healing) the liklihood of getting onion/garlic juice on the edges of my cast as I awkardly kept them in place was unappealing risk. I recommend cooking with a plastic grocery bag on your hand, because while it decreases the already limited range of ability, it helps a lot with not ending up with a well-seasoned cast that you have to wear for a month.

          1. re: Glencora

            I have a mini chopper, so that shouldn't be too hard. Chili or stew shouldn't be too taxing. Thanx. Good suggestion.

          2. If chopping is difficult, it might be worth checking out some of the more "packaged" fruits and vegetables. For example, if you bought the pre-chopped fresh stir fry mix vegetables and some sort of at least fairly small cut protein, you could probably pretty easily make asian meals of various sorts - probably rice though, rather than any sort of noodles since I am guessing draining might be a problem with anything pasta-like. Also, although they are not great, most grocery stores sell frozen chopped onions, peppers, etc. Once you cook them for a while they should kind of blend in and lose their previously frozen texture so they would be good in any sort of soup/stew. You also might consider the more "natural" risotto, rice and couscous mixes. They are pretty much dump and stir - they can be a little salty, but otherwise I think they are generally fairly good in a pinch.
            I hope your arm feels better soon!

            3 Replies
            1. re: LauraB

              Also check your grocery store's salad bar for precut vegetables.

              I would try some simple stir-frys over rice using the precut ingredients. I was going to recommend pasta, until I tried to picture carrying a pot full of boiling water over to the sink to drain.

              1. re: LauraB

                Sorry about your accident. I hope you get your cast off sooner than later :)

                I can't think of any one-armed cooking techniques, but I buy minced garlic from my local Korean market.

                1. re: MeowMixx

                  Two years ago I had to bake, ice, and decorate 100 mini cupcakes for my daughters birthday with a freshly broken arm (left as well, thank goodness!) WHAT A PAIN!

                  I sympathize with you!

                  A few suggestions, rather than the above mentioned plastic bag over your hand... I would suggest buying a box of latex medical gloves, from a drug store, costco, or a health supply depot, get XL and wear that while your cooking... keep odors and stains off your cast!

                  other than that... with everyday... things get easier! The worst i found was using a can opener!

                  the best advise i can give is KEEP UP WITH THE PHYSIO after your cast comes off! good luck

              2. I've been there...
                all good suggestions so far.
                Remember to think about how you will EAT the food you make:
                Sandwiches were easy to make, but them I realized that I couldn't get them to my mouth with both hands!

                other things that were a PIA with one arm in cast:
                flossing my teeth
                putting my hair in a ponytail

                good luck and a speedy recovery!


                3 Replies
                1. re: amyamelia

                  I've been living on sandwiches, so I seem to have mastered the technique (cut in half and don't have too many squishy/slippery items in them). As for the flossing . . . OMG! You are so right.

                  1. re: sheilal

                    get a package of the plastic floss sticks, you only need one hand!

                    1. re: pamd

                      I echo that one!! I use them, and have full use of both hands... I can floss while driving!

                2. I am thinking breakfast food - mix up and fry pancakes (small ones, not big ones where you have to turn the pan), bacon and sausages, scrambled eggs. Pasta with some of those precut vegetables and cream, with grated cheese mixed in. A nice grilled cheese and glass of wine - hold the bottle with your legs while doing the corkscrew, or get one of the better quality boxed wines. Pizza made from bought crusts, sliced meat from the deli, and bought grated cheese. Let us know what creative things you come up with!

                  1. There are a ton of products designed to help people that only have use of one arm. (ie...a rocking knife, jar/bottle/can opener, envelope opener, etc..) Definitely get some dycem for the counter to hold things down. Either check in a catalog yourself, or with a local occupational therapist.

                    As for an idea, I think pizza is a great one if you buy a premade dough. You can easily top it to your liking.

                    good luck with recovery!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pamd

                      I haven't thought about pizza. I'm scared that I wouldn't be able to pick up the pizza stone w/1 hand. Maybe if I made/bought a personal size . . . (Like the CPK -- they are fairly small). And if I used a lightweight cookie sheet.

                    2. This is the best excuse to use convenience foods like precut veggies and/or frozen veggies. Any egg based dishes would be easy to do with one hand--quiche, omelettes, frittata, strata. Buy pre-cut chicken parts, season. Put over rice and broth (add veggies if you want) and bake in oven for an easy casserole.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chowser

                        I sprained my shoulder and arm in a bicycle accident a few years ago and could not use my GOOD (left) arm much. I couldn't chop - managed to chop quite a few things with scissors.

                        Is there no friend who could volunteer to do some cutting for you? I hate those bagged vegetables, and you need vitamins to heal.

                        As for wine, some quite decent vino comes in screw-caps now, and I managed to open those (wrong) one-handed, between legs, as was said.

                        1. re: chowser

                          chowser, that sounds great, but taking a casserole pan out of the oven with 1 hand is a bit difficult, especially since it's hot. I recently fractured my wrist, & trying to do that 1 handed, I will either burn myself, or the pan will get off-balance & I'll drop it. But it still sounds good to make once I heal!

                        2. Shame we can't get together and help each other. I've got two good hands but a broken ankle. Still haven't figured out how to do something as simple as carry a cup of coffee on crutches. Don't think it's possible!
                          Can't go to the grocery so friends get me a few things each day. My meals are what I can fix balanced on one leg taking as few hobbles as possible using what is within reach on the bottom shelf. Then try to balance the plate and the crutches on the way to the table. Then get everything to the sink to clean up. Four times the effort. Four times as much time. Whew!
                          Saying constant prayers of thanksgiving that this is but a temporary pothole in the road of life.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: MakingSense

                            MakingSense- do you have an office chair on wheels to use in the kitchen? If you can get one it will help with moving around in the kitchen. Also, purchase a universal drink caddy to carry that coffee & other stuff!

                            1. re: pamd

                              Thanks. We've even tried a wheelchair but I still have the problem of keeping my leg elevated and getting close to the fridge and then getting up to the countertops and stove. It's just driving me nuts.

                              The biggest frustration, which I'm sure Sheila knows all too well, is simply not being able to do the simplest things that you took for granted. At least it's temporary but it gives you a new appreciation for people with permanent disabilities.

                          2. What about curried lentils? Lentils, broth, curry paste - mix and simmer until lentils are cooked. Serve with rice or bread. Very low-maintenance.

                            1. There IS a can opener you can use with one hand. Google "One Touch Can Opener". I have one. One hand works. You just lay it on top of the can then hold down the button; it crawls around the top of the can all by itself.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Querencia

                                how about a pot roast in the crockpot, just add a envelope of onion soup and a glass
                                of water. and just turn it on and let the crockpot do the work.

                              2. My sympathies! I went through the same thing recently--and I live alone as well. (Finally healed from that--and now have a fractured back! New challenges!) But back to the cast problem, I agree with everyone's suggestion about pre-sliced and chopped items. Trader Joe's has a number of those things and they're priced well. One of the things that I found incredibly usefull--the round pepper mill with handles on top--which can easily be used with one hand.
                                I also got really good at opening wine with one hand.
                                I found myself going to (here in L.A.) Gelson's a lot--getting their fresh, sliced turkey and tri-tip.
                                Best of luck!

                                1. The last episode of Feasting on Asphalt shows Alton Brown making meatloaf with one arm in a sling after his motorcycle spill. He was able to use fingers on that arm to stabilize items like a cutting board. Still it took him a lot longer than normal.

                                  1. I can't believe your friends aren't saying "call me if I can do anything." CALL them. Say I'll buy the groceries if you'll cook it and freeze it for me in small containers. Buy the containers, too, if you have to. Although they should be lining up at your door with armloads of food. One person can roast a chicken, shred it, pack it in gravy or plain. Someone else can boil up a couple pounds of pasta and divide it up, put red sauce on a few, garlic butter a few more, cheesy white sauce on the rest. Someone can make a pot of your favorite soup, a batch of meatballs, brownies, poach some shrimp, or make enough salad for a few days where you just grab a handful out of a bag and squirt some dressing on it.

                                    Then, when you're out of the cast, you invite everyone over for a fabulous meal or take them out. I know you want to be independent and not feel like a bother, but as a previous poster said, you need good food -- protein and vitamins -- to heal. And isn't this a perfect example of what friends are for?

                                    1. I broke my arm in a snowboarding accident a few years ago and totally feel your pain. Here are some one-armed tips.

                                      Lettuce and spinach salad in bags (served with a homemade vinaigrette since I couldn't open bottled dressing)
                                      Tuna in bags
                                      Pre-cut fruit (I'm in California so we have a lot of this) mixed with yogurt and shredded coconut for fruit salad
                                      Roasted chicken drumsticks so you don''t have to cut anything
                                      If you can open pasta bags, there are lots of great premade pasta sauces. And there is a jar-opening device by Black and Decker out there that I got for my mom with arthritis (it wasn't out when I had my accident).
                                      Frozen pizza (or making pizza with boboli, preshredded cheese, etc.)
                                      Precut pita pockets for sandwiches
                                      Electric pepper grinder
                                      Lots of paper plates and plastic cups so you don't have to wash dishes! It takes forever to wash dishes with one hand.

                                      Also a friend in the medical field really gave me the best tip of all -- Ensure, the liquid nutritional supplement. Especially in the early stages of healing...you don't have as big an appetite, but it's even more important to get nutrients for you body to heal...so I just stocked a bunch of the chocolate ones in my fridge for about three weeks until I got my appetite back.

                                      Good luck!


                                      1. There was recently some discussion on this board about the bittman chicken adobo recipe, which seems relatively well adapted to one-handed cooking (if you can't get a friend to make it for you, that is! ) Basically just requires tossing some chicken pieces, water, vinegar, a bay leaf and some peppercorns in a pan and letting it cook for a while-- add some soy (at the beginning or after liquid is cooked down, depending how your filipino mom did it :) ). If you want it dryer, take the chicken out on paper towels to drain briefly, then saute/fry in hot oil to crisp up. Easy to do with one-handed pouring and tongs, though washing the pot will still be a hassle :(
                                        If you do drumsticks, you can eat them messily one-handedly, medieval style :)

                                        1. It might go against your grain, but suck it up and buy pre cut and pre prepped foods.
                                          The last thing you need is to injure your "good" hand.

                                          The only thing that I was sure to figure out how to do with my left hand, while my whole right arm was casted knuckles to shoulder, was uncork wine!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: monavano

                                            We do notice that this unfortunate accident happened several years ago, so hope sheilal is fine now! I started re-writing exactly the same post as I had written back then...

                                            As for wine, there are even more wines now of decent quality with screw-caps, and even some decent bag-in-boxes.

                                            I have no memory of how I managed to make coffee, but I certainly did. Or how I did the dishes. Friends did them a couple of times, but certainly not every day.

                                          2. I guess the thing would be to stay away from cutting and chopping.

                                            A lot of grocery stores sell prechopped veggies like onion and green pepper. You can buy cherry or grape tomatoes for salads and a cut up fruit salad from the store as well

                                            Spaghetti and meat sauce

                                            Chicken and rice

                                            Hamburger with store bought fries or tater tots

                                            chicken with mash potatoes and asparagus