You Can Cook Safely
You do not have to give up cooking for yourself or your family, if this is something you have enjoyed. I give you my tips for cooking safely in this article. Get started with your Care Partner, or caregiver, to organize and set up your kitchen in a way that is easy for you to find everything you need. Once you have labeled all your kitchen supplies, food, spices etc. you will have a place for everything and everything in its place. It might take some training for your family members to return things to the designated place.
Can people with low vision or blindness still cook?
Yes, you can cook even with vision loss. If you have cooked in the past, you already know most of what is needed to be a good cook. Use your past cooking skills, common sense, and some new techniques and you will be cooking safely and ready to go.
Organizing Your Kitchen
Setting up your kitchen is a very individual choice. If you are working with your Care Partner make sure they understand that you want things in an organized place so that you can find everything in your kitchen, independently. You will want to prioritize where you want to start and what makes the most sense to you. Also, you will need to label items so that you can identify them especially when there is no one around to tell you.
If you choose to start in the pantry, again you will want items placed for your easy access and labelled in a way that works best for you. I talk about that later.
There are many ways to organize your food items and to keep them separated, depending on your vision. If you have low vision, you maybe able to recognize items without much magnification. Increase the lighting in your pantry, use a magnifying device or magnifying glasses. You might need to use large print on can goods, boxed items, or items in jars.
Wooden or cardboard slats can be used to separate canned goods such as beans, peas, corn, soups etc.
It is important to have all your appliances marked in away that is easy for you to operate. Use Puff Paint, PenFriend, Lock Dots or Bump Dots.
Labelling your kitchen items can be as simple as putting rubber bands around similar food, such as distinguishing regular milk from chocolate, by always putting the band around the chocolate. If you have juice in a similar container always use 2 rubber bands. You can use a Sharpie pen or 20/20 pen on an index card that is connected to the item with a rubber band, which can later be used for your shopping list. If you have a large print Dymo labeler. It is usually best to use black Dymo tape that has white print once you have pressed out the name of the item. If you add several spaces at each end of the tape, you can use a single-hole punch and then thread a rubber band through the holes to put the label around the item. If you are blind, you might use Braille labels, which can also be printed on an index card, cut to size and rubber banded around the jar, box or can. You can also use the PenFriend to label all types of items.
These are a few of the labelling supplies you can use:
- large print on index cards
- Bump Dots
- Lock Dots
You probably know most of the safety techniques if you have cooked in the past. Again, it is mostly common sense. Below are a few suggestions to keep you cooking safely:
- Wear clothing that will not catch on fire such as short sleeves or push your sleeves up out of the way of electric burners or gas flames
- Use oven mitts that cover your forearms
- Use a tactual or audible timer
- Center pans on burner before turning on
- Turn handles to the side, so you will not bump them off the burner
- Turn burner off before you remove pans
- Know where you are going to place a hot pan from the burner or oven before taking it to the counter
- Have a hot pad or trivet on the counter to place your hot pan
- Slide oven rack out a little, before removing pans from oven
- Do not leave the kitchen when cooking on top of the stove
- When preparing food, place all your needed ingredients on the left of the counter
- Place a bowl on a large cookie sheet or cafeteria tray for measuring or mixing ingredients. This will help keep spills on the tray for easy clean up
- As you use all the items you have placed on the left, move them to the right, so that you know you have used all your ingredients. Then return them to their designated place in the cupboard, trash, or dish washer for easy clean up
There are many tools and devices, which makes tasks much easier and safer such as pouring, chopping, slicing, measuring, timing etc.
Just remember you can be as creative as you want. It might take a little time and patience. Be easy on yourself and your Care Partner while getting everything set up like you want.
Questions you might ask:
- Will I be able to cook now that I have lost vision?
- How do I organize my kitchen?
- Are there safety precautions I should be aware of?
- What tools or devices are best for me to use?
- Where do I get these devices?
- Braille or talking timer
- Double Spatula to flip eggs, pancakes etc.
- Talking Thermometers such as meat and candy
- Liquid Level Indicator/Say When
- Measuring cups and spoons are available with braille or tactile marking
- Cutting Board double sided with one side black and one white for good contrast
- Guided knife adjustable to the size slice you want
- Pot minder, keeps water from boiling over
- Splatter guard for fried food
Catalogs for Products and Devices:
Linda Wilder is a retired national certified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. She lost her vision at age 28 and began her journey of education, employment and self-confidence. She serves on the board of Hope Vision Foundation.