Kitchen Aids For the Visually Impaired

Cooking is more than just throwing a bunch of ingredients together in a pan and hoping for the best. To get the full experience out of the task you must first come to appreciate all that truly goes into it. From purchasing food, to setting up your kitchen for success, to preparing each ingredient, to ultimately a finished product the act of cooking uses all of one’s self and senses. For persons who are visually impaired cooking may seem more of a challenge than it truly has to be. Let’s look at some ideas to make each step more enjoyable.

Ready

Readiness is the biggest step towards being a successful cook. It’s important to ensure that you have all the needed supplies at hand before venturing to the next step. For this section it’s important to have the right ingredients and tools before any further prep is done.

Obtaining the proper ingredients has gotten much easier in today’s technologically advanced world. Some grocery stores allow you to both order online and have them deliver your groceries to you. Other grocery stores allow you to order online and pickup outside the store. There are still other services like Schwan’s, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and many others that allow you to order either how to meals or complete meals delivered right to your door. Schwan’s is the oldest service of its kind available having been around for over 65 years. To learn more about the other two (plus eleven more) see The Best Meal Kit Delivery Services to Try in 2019. Of course, going to a store in person and picking out each individual item yourself is also still an option and is preferable for some. A few tips for shopping in person include asking in the butcher to precut any meat to fit your needs, smelling and feeling produce to test for freshness, and buying precut fruits and veggies were available to cut down on prep time.

Having the right set of tools in your kitchen is also an important first step in a successful outcome. A few useful tools to have on hand are a low vision black and white cutting board,  a talking kitchen scale, color coded measuring spoons, measuring cup set, low vision timer, flame retardant oven mitt, automatic jar opener, battery powered can opener, finger guard, and palm peeler.

Set

Once you have all of the needed tools on hand it’s important to ensure each item is labeled correctly and put away in an easy to locate spot. There are many ways to setup your kitchen area from using the WayAround Kitchen Starter Pack to using simple bump dots, dots of textured paint, glue, or any other material of your choosing.

The best way to know what to use (if not using a tried and true recipe of your own) is through the use of a cookbook or video explaining what is needed and how to use each item. For a paid subscription, Audible has over 1,000 cookbooks to chose from that can be read aloud to you. Food Network, All Recipes, Yummly (for mobile devices) and YouTube are also good options for recipes and video demonstrations. A good CCTV device, or other technology that translates written word into auditory means, opens up your world of recipes even further.

Once you’ve found the desired recipe it’s time to put your at the ready tools to use. For those with low vision the high contrast cutting board helps you see the item that needs prepping more clearly. The palm peeler and finger guard are good ways to cut up fresh produce without fear of cutting yourself in the process. A talking scale ensures that you are using the correct amount for the recipe as do the color-coded measuring spoons and measuring cup set. The automatic jar opener and battery operated can opener makes sure that opening any jar or can is a breeze.

It’s also important to follow kitchen safety advice such as not wearing long sleeves when cooking, using proper oven mitts, temperature settings, and utilizing a timer. For more tips see Safe Cooking Techniques for Cooks Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision.

Cook

There are several different appliances and cooking vessels that can be used to prepare your end dish. The stainless-steel 7 piece pot and lid set is an affordable and handy option for stovetop cooking. Speaking of stovetop cooking this flameless induction cooktop is a great option if you don’t want to heat up the whole kitchen or are scared of burning yourself when cooking. Unlike traditional gas or electric cook-tops, the induction surface does not heat up. Only the vessel holding the food gets hot. If you prefer to mostly cook via microwave there are several options for the visually impaired here too including a stainless-steel microwave with tactile stickers and a Magic Chef talking microwave oven.

The last thing to do is cook. The ingredients are prepared, your timer is at the ready, the oven(s) or stovetop are the way they need to be used, tactile dots or some other indicator is in place to tell the correct temperature, and you have the proper safety equipment on. Happy cooking!