Cooking with disabilities

The Day Program here at Shepherd is centered on returning the patients to being as independent as possible. With that in mind they have a complete kitchen set up for the patients to learn in. This kitchen has all of the things you would find in most kitchens with a little bit of a twist. Everything has been adapted so that patients with disabilities can use all of the tools and appliance. The counter height is adjustable, appliances are lowered to be within reach, loops are installed on doors to allow them to be opened when you can’t pinch, knives are mounted on cutting boards or have adaptive handles etc.  The goal is to show them how they can adapt their kitchens and be able to carry out food preparation and cooking. This also includes going to the store and shopping for the items needed to prepare a meal.

This week Jared went with two of the other patients to a local grocery store. They made a list of items they would need to prepare a meal, which turned out to be pizza and they set off to gather these items. This gave them a good idea of what types of issues they may face in the future when going to the store on their own. They had to get all the items into their carts and bring them to the cashier for checkout including paying for them. These are things we all do without even giving it a second thought. When you are disabled everything takes on a whole new challenge. Just pushing a grocery cart around the store while also pushing yourself in a wheel chair can be difficult never mind trying to get something off the shelf that is to low, to high or a shape that you can get you hand around to grip. As it turns out most everything is one of those or most of the time a few of those things so asking for help from time to time becomes part of the new normal. Even after gathering everything you want there is the struggle of getting it on to the checkout belt and paying for it. Managing a wallet takes on a new meaning as well.

Okay so the shopping part is complete. Now they head back and put all the items away. Yes this to is good to go through so when they returned from the store everything was put away as any of us would do after going shopping. With the limited time we have each day we had to wait until the next day to actually prepare the meal.

Meal preparation started with a little discussion between the guys to see who would take on different aspects of preparing the pizzas. As it turned out they all worked quite well together and their cooperation and efforts paid off. One of the things Jared took on was slicing up the peppers and onions. This can be a challenge for some people without a disability so just imagine what it would be like trying to do this when you have no control of your fingers. However with a few adaptive tools and a lot of determination it is amazing what can be accomplished. Jared was able to cut the items up with very little assistance and without cutting any of his fingers. 🙂  They have some good ideas on how we can make cutting tools that will allow Jared to cut up things when we are home very safely and effectively.

The guys worked together passing the two pizzas back and forth so they all had a chance to take part in different aspects of the preparation. Once they were completed they even had to place them into a 425 degree oven and when your face is close to the lever of the oven you get a new appreciation for just how hot that is. All turned out well and 15 minuets later there were two amazing pizzas sitting on the table ready to be eaten.

It was great to watch them go through this process and even better to see how happy they were with their creations. They all had a few pieces and I even had a chance to have a piece. I will say their pizza was better than the one we ordered from a local restaurant. Looks like Jared will be making us dinner once we are home in no time.


imageAdaptive cutting board with the tip of the knife attached to the board and small pins sticking up to secure whatever is being cut.

imageAdaptive knife that allows Jared to hold it and rock through whatever he needs to cut.

imageProud chefs 🙂

imageThe finished product, or what was left by the time I got to take the picture.


4 thoughts on “Cooking with disabilities

  1. You guys prove that anthing is possible with determination. Looks better than one from a pizzaria. Pizza Hut is getting worried. Congrats. Love Grandma


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