Cooking can be challenging when you live with a disability. But with the right tools and techniques, many people can find their way around the kitchen. Here are some tips you can try.
1. Use automatic and adaptive devices
Automatic and adaptive devices can make many cooking activities easier. Electric can openers, adaptive utensils, vegetable choppers, knives designed for safety, switch-activated battery operated scissors and switch-activated adapted pouring cups are just some of the products that can make cooking possible for individuals with impaired fine motor skills or inability to use their hands.
2. Collect simple recipes with step-by-step photographs
Individuals with intellectual disabilities will benefit from short recipes that don’t require too much reading and photos that will show them what their recipes should look like. Visit this website for more information.
3. Cut prep time
Take advantage of pre-cut and pre-washed veggies, fruit and semi-prepared meat as well as high quality, healthy frozen meals. Trader Joe’s sells yummy pre-seasoned dishes such as ready to heat pesto chicken thighs, lasagna, soups and all sorts of frozen pizzas at reasonable price points.
4. Use a rolling or bar cart to transport food and ingredients
In a recent Washington Post article, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a wheelchair user, says she “uses a child’s lap desk and balances food and plates on a tray that fits on it. The senator also advises loading up a bar cart. ‘I can just roll myself while pushing the bar cart with everything in it from one room to another without risking spilling hot food or drinks in my lap,’” she said.
5. Use voice-assisted technology
If you’re visually impaired or have motor challenges, avoid going back and forth to your recipe or cookbook by having voice-assisted technology read your recipe aloud.
6. Design your kitchen to meet your needs
If it’s not cost prohibitive, redesign your kitchen with your needs in mind. For instance, if you use a wheelchair, lower your counters to wheelchair level. If that’s not an option, get a rolling prep table that’s wheelchair height. Likewise, electronic touch or hands-free faucets make food preparation easier. An induction stovetop is a great idea for vision impaired cooks or those with impaired fine motor control since its surface or cooktop doesn’t get hot. Imagine – you can touch it and not get burned!
7. Consult with an occupational therapist
Not sure where to begin? Work with an occupational therapist who can teach you to simplify cooking routines and help you to set up your kitchen so it’s more user-friendly.
8. Check out Accessible Chef
Created by Anna Moyer, who experimented with all kinds of cooking hacks to help her brother who lives with Down syndrome, this website is full of helpful ideas, recipes, and product suggestions that make cooking accessible for individuals with intellectual disabilities.