Get ingredients and recipes delivered
Supermarket shopping with AS can be a real pain. Luckily there are some companies who will deliver meal kits - recipes with all the required ingredients (except basic store cupboard ingredients like oil, salt and pepper), delivered to your door. They usually pack them in cool-boxes, which have ice packs and an insulator (such as sheeps wool) to keep the fridge ingredients cool, so they can be left outside your home for 12 hours or so if you are out. See if any are available in your area and how much they charge. My favorite is Gousto in the UK, who have quite a good choice to pick from each week, including some quick and easy 10-20 minute recipes.
Some supermarkets also deliver produce to your door.
Optimise your store cupboard
If you cook, or want to but find it too hard, consider rearranging your kitchen - you might be surprised how much easier you can make things for yourself.
- Pick out the store-cupboard items and tools you tend to use every week - this might be cooking oil, a few of your favourite spices, pasta, tins of tomatoes or whatever you tend to eat a lot, your favourite cooking utensils and gadgets.
- Identify the easiest kitchen storage places to use when you're stiff and sore. This might be a cupboard or large drawer at chest height, something you don't have to bend down to, or reach up to. If you don't have any easy-to-reach storage spaces, consider if you can get some installed. Also, if you have space on your kitchen surface, use an open tub or box on the surface as a storage space which is really easy to get to (you don't have to put everything away behind a cupboard door)
- Rearrange to put the items you use most in the easiest storage places, and put the rest which you only use once in a while away in the awkward cupboards.
Pots and pans
Go through all of your pots and pans, and ask yourself which ones you actually use day to day. This may only be one or two of your favourites, perhaps a frying pan and a medium sized pot, hopefully lightweight ones.
Consider not putting these pots and pans away at all if you have the space on your kitchen surface. I keep my favourite pots and pans out on my kitchen counter, near to the hob. Yes, it takes up space, but I'd rather do that than have to bend down peering into cupboards every day, lifting heavy stacks of pans to get to the one at the bottom (the one you want is always at the bottom!) The ones you hardly ever use can go away in the cupboard.
Chopping all those veggies and standing over a simmering pan can quickly give you an aching lower back and neck, taking all the joy out of cooking.
Try getting a height adjustable 'support stool' in the kitchen. A support stool is a small chair designed to support you when you're working on a manual task, such as cooking.
This should ideally have an extra-large range of height adjustment, going from quite low (for when you want to sit and peer into your oven) to almost standing (so you can 'perch' on the seat while chopping or stirring). The height adjustment range should be specified for the chair, usually called something like 'seat hight gas lift' - something around 260mm should be ideal depending on how tall you are (i.e. the difference between the lowest and highest height setting is 260mm).
Also, go to an ergonomic furniture showroom and try out a 'saddle seat' (like the one pictured). You might find a saddle type seat makes it easier when you're almost standing / perching on the end, as there is space for your legs to dangle off the seat.
A model with wheels might also be a good idea, as you can more easily move around on the chair and push the chair out of the way when you don't want it. Also look out for models with a footring, to give your feet a second height to rest at.
If you're moving house or planning on a new kitchen, make sure it includes an oven at a height which will make it easiest for you to use. Many ovens are quite low down, which makes it very difficult to use when you have a very stiff back. The ideal height is probably somewhere around chest level, so you don't have to stoop down to look in or lift something heavy out.
If you use a microwave, you might be able to relocate it or put a stand underneath to raise it to a better height.
Eating a healthy diet of fresh food is essential for staying healthy and staving off the fatigue associated with AS. Unfortunately, cooking can become difficult due to pain and stiffness when you're doing those things which are taxing on your back - standing over a chopping board, stirring pots on a stove, moving pans around etc.
You can minimise discomfort and still get healthy, nutritious meals by searching for the easiest, quickest and simplest recipes you can find. Look out for recipes with only a few steps, a small ingredients list or which uses only 1 pot or pan.