As someone who has experienced significant vision loss, I have had to learn ways to manage in the kitchen. Many people who are blind or visually impaired are very capable in the kitchen. Here are some tips and techniques I have learned over the years.
I am by far no elaborate chef, but I have become an expert when it comes to simple ideas to manage my own kitchen. As a wife and mother of four, I cook frequently. Some meals are large and luxurious, but more often than not, I choose meals for taste and convenience.
One of the most important things to consider in the kitchen is safety. Typical safety rules apply in the kitchen whether you are visually impaired or perfectly sighted. Always keep the handles of your pots and pans turned in towards the center of the stove. This will avoid any accidental spills or burns. Keep any loose clothing or long hair away from the stove.
Washing hands with soap and water before and after cooking is always a good idea. It is perfectly alright for a visually impaired chef to use their hands to prepare meals. Just be certain to wash your hands thoroughly.
Always close cabinet doors and drawers after you retrieve an item from the area. It can be very painful to turn around an whack yourself on the corner of a drawer or cabinet that you couldn’t see. If you own a dishwasher, close it immediately after putting dishes in or taking them out. Your dishwasher door can be a serious hazard.
If the tiny numbers on your stove or microwave are hard to read, here are some great tips. Picture the dials on your phone as the face of a clock. This will help give you a reference point. Orient yourself or your loved one with the particular device they will use everyday. For example, on my stove, I turn my dial to approximately 2 o’clock if I want to keep something warm. A medium heat is at 6 o’clock. A pot simmers nicely at about 10 o’clock.
My oven has a digital display for the temperature. As my vision worsened, the numbers were hard to read. Using a bright-orange puff paint, I had someone mark two standard temperatures for me. You can vary this to meet your specific needs.
Marking your oven temperatures can be simple if your oven sets with a dial-like setting. Begin by cleaning your dials and surrounding area thoroughly with soap and water. Wiping gently with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol will get rid of any residue. This will ensure the puff paint will stay in place. Have someone turn the dial to the desired temperature. Place a dot directly on the surface of the stove just off of the edge of the dial. Brightly colored paint will help people with contrast. The puffed paint will also be tactile. After allowing the paint to dry thoroughly, the mark will be able to be felt. The tactile mark will allow the visually impaired individual to set their oven for baking independently.
Another method for marking your stove is to scratch a line on the surface that can be felt. This method
Is less effective for a person with usable vision. The contrast method is best for that instance. Using a sharp knife, follow the same method as described above and scratch a mark on the surface with the sharp object.
Location, Location, Location
Where things are is important. Keep items in the same place. You will save a lot of time when you know right where something will be. No need to hunt around for an item. Place your stirring spoons on a spoon rest in a particular location. This will ensure that you do not need to search around the stove for a misplaced utensil.
If you are done with a sharp knife and are unable to wash it immediately, have a designated place to keep it. Avoid tossing it straight into the sink. Placing knives behind the faucet, near the backsplash of the counter is a great idea.
Another way to corral those sharp knives is by placing them in a large plastic cup or Tupperware container for storage. This will keep the points a safe distance away while allowing the handles up for ease. I keep my container on top of the fridge because of the little kids in the house, but this can be handy near the sink or cutting board.
Keep your food in order. After bringing home a load of groceries, be certain to put them away in an order. It does not matter what way you organize the food. The important thing is that it is put away in the same location every single time. This eliminates the need to label everything.
When labels are needed, you can devise your own method. Here are some suggestions. Placing a simple rubber band around the cans of cream corn will denote them from the whole kernel. The only disadvantage is if you should forget why the rubber band is on the can.
Attaching an index card with the name of the item written in black permanent marker may be a great idea for some. This idea works well for anyone who knows Braille, too. Index cards are great to Braille on if you are in need of a label.
Instead of sneezing every time you check the salt and pepper shakers, try using shakers that have different shapes. The unique look and feel will make passing the salt much easier. Plates with white centers and a dark colored rim helps people with low vision see the edge of the plate. The white center portion contrasts nicely with many foods. This will make dining easier for some visually impaired individuals.
Although I am fully capable of using a butter knife to spread, I personally find it easier to use a spoon. Dip in the jelly jar and grab a spoonful of jelly to spread on toast is easier this way. Turn over the spoon and use the back side to spread the jelly or jam.
Pouring may be difficult for some. When measuring out ingredients for a recipe, use metal measuring spoons. Bend the handle so that you can dip it into a large mouth container and measure out the proper amount with less mess.
Another option for measuring is to use a medicine syringe. Your pharmacy department will sell syringe style medicine droppers. Have someone pull the plunger to the desired measurement and score the plastic with a knife. The next time you need a specific amount you can measure it yourself. For example, if you have a syringe that measures up to one teaspoon, you can mark it every ¼ tsp. The first notch will be ¼ tsp., And the second notch ½ tsp., and so on.
This tip works for the appropriate dose of medication.
These simple tips will help ease the transition involved with vision loss. Tips and suggestions around the kitchen will help keep a sense of independence.