Tips for Cooking from a Wheelchair

There is just something about food that makes people happy, and what’s better than good home-cooked comfort food? But cooking from a wheelchair can be a chore. Here are a few things that can help cooking be enjoyable and safe.

Always be prepared for accidents.

Boiling water is a very dangerous hazard. For able body cooks, if a hot substance is dropped or spilled, it will generally fall to the floor. But for cooks in wheelchairs, laps and legs are always exposed to whatever we drop. I speak from experience. I have had several first and second degree burns from spilling hot items on my legs.

The problem can be solved by placing a wooden cutting board on my lap while I cook. The cutting board shields my legs from hot splashes. (Note: It also serves as an insulated table. The board allows for navigating a wheelchair from the stove to the dinner table. I place the hot food on the cutting board and my hands are then free to move the wheelchair.

Here are a few of my safety tips I use in my kitchen. These tips can also help if you are modifying your kitchen.

  • Keep hot pads close by and towels handy for cleanup.
  • Avoid hazards from pots that are hard to see.
  • Keep clothing from getting too close to burners.
  • Make sure you have easy access into the oven and cabinets to safely place and remove dishware or hot items.
  • Create better visibility for areas (like the sink) to avoid grabbing sharp or broken items.

Don't try to overdo it. Keep it simple!

It's not often that I feel motivated to bake, but when I do, for some reason I think I can accomplish the most difficult recipe. Instead of knowing my limits as a cook, I toss flour and sugar everywhere dreaming of a beautiful outcome. Recently, a friend gave me an eclair recipe that called for two "packages" of Nestle chocolate. I used two whole packages (not “packets”) and the chocolate was overwhelming and bitter. It’s best to keep me away from Pinterest (where everything appears so easy to duplicate). After many attempts at Pinterest baking ideas, my new motto is, "Pinterest, the place where good intentions die.”

Cooking should be enjoyable!

Everyone has to eat, therefore cooking is essential. But it should not be hard. It should be fun and even creative. Find ways to make it enjoyable so it doesn't feel like a chore. Try cooking with a friend, spouse, or family member. You will have additional help with tasks that may be a challenge and the fellowship will add to the cooking experience.

Here are a few ideas for your cooking space that will aid in more enjoyment.

  • Open space beneath the cooktop and sink provides wheelchair accessibility.
  • Additional pull-out cutting surfaces make food prep a breeze.
  • Easy access to microwave for quick thawing and reheating.
  • Consider a combination oven – a combination oven includes a microwave, conventional oven and grill. It is safer and more convenient. It also offers a variety of ways you can prepare your food!

No matter how you get it done, embrace your skills to cook your next delicious meal. Bon appétit!


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