11 Essential Items for a Disability-Friendly Kitchen

11 Essential Items for a Disability-Friendly Kitchen

It’s not easy creating a disability-friendly kitchen. Ableism rules the world. If we look for products to make our disabled lives better and easier, the messaging we receive is not good. As a result, we can tend to be hesitant sharing our disability tips. As a result, lot of what we find on the internet is written by the abled and it’s worthless.

So, here are 11 essential and tested items for a disability-friendly kitchen. The items are to help solve mobility issues and reduce arthritic pain while in the kitchen.

I purchased every single item on this list. It costs quite a bit of money to make your kitchen disability-friendly so consider putting these items on your Amazon Wishlists if you cannot afford them.

1. Instant Pot

An Instant Pot really is a must-have if you are disabled. It will become the thing that anchors your disabily-friendly kitchen.

There are so many pour and cook recipes found on my favourite resource: Two Sleevers and in my own recipe index of recipes that I’ve created. Also, you don’t have to stand in the kitchen while cooking. You just set it and walk away. To save on kitchen prep pain, I spend one day a week chopping and freezing onions and bell peppers, and making and freezing garlic and ginger paste.

I cook at least 95 per cent of my meals in the Instant Pot. I started with the Duo Plus 6 Quart and a month later, purchased the 3 Quart so I can cook larger quantities of meals with sauce in the 6 Quart and while preparing the rice in the 3 quart. I also use both to make dog food. I have a dog who is allergic to all store-bought food and treats, so we have to make everything for our dogs from scratch.

Not only is it helpful when it comes to mobility issues and arthritis, but the Instant Pot is great if you have certain conditions that make eating food difficult. If you need soft meals, this beats a slow cooker as it’s quicker to cook with the same results.

2. Immersion Blender with Accessories

An immersion blender with accessories is essential to a disability-friendly kitchen, especially if you have a kitchen that lacks counter space. This saves you from having to chop onions, plus you can use the immersion blender when making Butter Chicken in the Instant Pot or other things that need to be pureed. The model I have is different than that pictured, but it has the same attachments.

3. Retro Counter Chair/Step Stool

This counter chair and step stool has been a pain-saver for sure. I’m a very short dude and counter heights are too tall for me to mix and stir, chop, etc., in a way that is ergo dynamic and doesn’t result in a lot of pain. Also, I can’t stand for more than 5 minutes without excruciating pain. This counter chair not only makes me the right height for counters but it also allows me to sit while prepping food. The built-in step stool is an added bonus so I don’t have to drag a chair around to get things from shelves higher than the bottom shelf or stand on counters.

4. OXO Good Grips Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs

If you have grasping issues like I do, you have had a difficult time finding good tongs. I wish I had been told of these OXO Good Grips tongs years ago. Not only are they very comfortable, but you don’t need to use a lot of pressure to grasp things with the tongs and they spring back easily.

5. OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer

OXO makes so many products that are disability-friendly. The Good Grips Mandoline Slicer is another one of those things. The first Mandoline slicer I purchased, while it did the job, it ended up causing more pain than slicing vegetables with a knife. It didn’t have the handle to hold on to, causing me to have to attempt to hold the slicer at the right height and angle, while not having it slide all over the place.

6. A Good Garlic Press with Garlic Peeler

I once was the fool who bought a cheap garlic press from Walmart. It required a lot of pressure to press the garlic. So much pressure, that a handle broke off while I was trying to press some garlic.

You don’t have to spend a lot for a good garlic press. Also, if you have arthritis in your hands, it is important that it comes with a garlic peeler. You could always buy peeled garlic at the grocery, however, that cost can be prohibitive. With the peeler, you simply put the garlic into the tube and roll it on the counter under your palms.

7. Cutting Boards that have a Handle on Non-Slip Feet

Again, if you are like me and have arthritis in your hands, you need cutting boards that are not only easy to move around but also won’t slip while preparing food. Just buy all the OXO Good Grips items. You can’t go wrong. This is another things I wish I had learned about earlier. It’s unbelievable how much non-slip cutting boards with a handle relieve pain and help with a variety of mobility issues.

8. Compression Arthritis Gloves

Compression arthritis gloves are yet another thing I wish I had learned about before last year. Not even my rheumatologist recommended them. I only became aware of them when I saw them in a Two Sleevers video. I wear mine almost all the time. Yes, even when cooking. I just place latex-free exam gloves over top of them when I’m in the kitchen.

9. Masala Dabba

You may be wondering, “Why do I need a masala dabba?” The answer is simple: Even if you don’t do a lot of Indian cooking, the masala dabba is a handy spice and herb storage container. It cuts down on having to move around the kitchen as you gather all your herbs and/or spices. You can have seven of them in one handy dandy place. The lid seals pretty tight to keep everything fresh. I can’t open it without using a butter knife to pry the lid off. But that extra step is totally worth avoiding extra pain gathering everything I need to cook.

10. Spice and Nut Grinder

The reason why I’m including a spice and nut grinder is that it helps to cut down on your grocery bill. Instead of buying ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground cloves, etc., buy very large containers of these items whole and grind them yourself. Also, freshly-ground spices have much better flavour. It’s also much better than using those mortar and pestles you’ll see on ableist food blogs.

11. Multi Egg Slicer

Last but not least on this list of items to begin your journey on a disability-friendly kitchen is a multi egg slicer. Every Monday, I have to hard boil, peel and chop 30 eggs for a week’s worth of dog food for both of my dogs. While I’m still trying to find an arthritis-friendly way of peeling the eggs, I have found an arthritis-friendly way of chopping those eggs. Good-bye butter knife and hello dicing section with cup! I’m allergic to eggs so I won’t be using the other sections, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use every single option.

This is all I have for now. Please tell me about the things in your disability-friendly kitchen!

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Jules Sherred
hello@disabledkitchenandgarden.ca

Jules Sherred is a gender noncomforming autistic disabled trans man. He has lupus with many secondary disorders, including but not limited to, psoriatic arthritis in every joint, fibromyaligia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic migraines, and antiphospholipid syndrome -- a bleeding and clotting disorder. He also has Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (C-PTSS). He has found great physical and psychological relief in Instant Pot-ting and AeroGarden-ing. After coming up empty trying to find disability resources, written by disabled people, on how to create a disability-friendly kitchen and garden that has multiple benefits, he decided to take matters in his own hands by sharing what he has learned.

10 Comments
  • Karoline
    Posted at 15:40h, 06 January Reply

    I HAVE SO MANY COMMENTS! 🙂

    First – since you asked about disability friendly ways of peeling eggs? Have you tried boiling them in your instant pot yet? Because they’re WAY easier to peel that way.

    Second – I discovered last week that it takes a lot of strain off my hands/thumbs to chop certain veg with my apple corer/slicer than to do so the normal way. (I’ve got the kind that does thin slices, 16 instead of 8.) it leaves a slightly larger circle in the center, but it’s easier to just cut that one bit in half than to chop/slice the whole vegetable. So far I’ve had good results with both mushrooms and onions. They’re not all perfect dice but most of the time you don’t need it to be!

    (Mushrooms – I remove the stems and press down like I’m coring a flat Apple. Small-medium onions I peel, cut in half from stem to root, place flat side down, and treat like a half apple.)

    • Jules Sherred
      Posted at 15:46h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks for the comment and tips!

      I have not tried the hard boiled eggs in my 6qt yet because I’m not sure 30 eggs can fit safely into it. What my normal process is for making my dogs’ food is, I boil the eggs while the veg is going in one IP and the lentils are going in another. After the lentils are done, it’s time for the Quinoa. The recipe is fairly involved and it takes me 2 painful hours to cook their food for a week, even when using both IPs. I like that I can boil the eggs while the veg is steaming. (At some point, I may also blog about having to cook all food for your dogs because they’re allergic to every processed when you’re disabled).

      I haven’t thought of using a corer! I use the chopper attachment on my immersion blender to do things like chop fresh herbs, onions, etc. The only thing I haven’t really found an easy to chop is carrots for the dogs’ food. Using the mandoline slicer just takes way too long than making sure I have a good ergodynamic angle when using a good sharp knife and cutting board.

      I tend to buy mushrooms pre-sliced but if the corer works, that will be a good grocery saving!

      Thanks, again!

      • Karoline
        Posted at 15:58h, 06 January Reply

        IME, you can do 18 eggs in the 6qt without a problem. I haven’t tried more yet, you will have to stack them, but it works fine. You could do 15 and 15?

        oddly enough, ( I guess because it takes more time to come to pressure with that many eggs in there?) I find the more eggs are in there, the fewer minutes I set it for. I put the eggs in, add 1 c water, and do 6 eggs at 5 min, 12 at 4, and 18 at 3 minutes. (I didn’t know it was possible to burn a hard boiled egg before doing the larger numbers of eggs at 5 minutes!)

        Oh! And you need to put the eggs on the tray insert. (It may have a specific name, but I have forgotten it!)

        As to the mushrooms – I love the convenience of sliced mushrooms, but they go bad so much faster in my fridge. And my physical issues have a prominent fatigue component (which of course flares unexpectedly) so I hate buying mushrooms that have a decent chance of going off before I can use them,

        • Jules Sherred
          Posted at 16:05h, 06 January Reply

          Tomorrow is dog food cooking day, so I’ll try the 15 eggs at a time at 3 minutes, put them all together in a cold water bath, and see what happens! I’ll report back with results 🙂

          It’s called a trivet (not that I expect you to remember that; just a note for anyone reading the comments).

          I totally hear you about the mushrooms. I think it’s a very common occurrence for those of us with disabilities that cause us to be beyond exhausted. I get my groceries delivered to my door from a locally-owned grocery and what I tend to do to battle the issue of things just going bad is, I’ll buy perishables if it seems like I’ll have a couple days where I’m not completely zapped and then cook a week’s worth of meals the day groceries arrive (they arrive the day after I order). But even then, because lupus and fibro fatigue is very unpredictable, a lot of it still ends up in the compost bin.

        • Jules Sherred
          Posted at 15:25h, 07 January Reply

          Update: I’m excited to report that this worked like a charm! Not only do the shells just fall off but it cut down peeling time from 30 minutes to maybe 10 seconds an egg. I was also able to keep my arthritis gloves on with exam gloves over top and the shells only pierced my exam glove rught at the end. Normally, my thumb and index finger would be all cut up after the 3rd egg.

          The only reason I hadn’t tried it before is because on a blog I read about this very issue, they said the Instant Pot didn’t work. I can only assume they put them under pressure for too long. Last time I believe something written by an abled person.

          Anyway, thanks again! This tip is already life-changing!

          • Karoline
            Posted at 16:15h, 07 January

            Yay!! I’m so glad! I have chronic fatigue issues more than pain (autoimmune hypo thyroid, YAY, not) AND food intolerances so I’ve been forced to cook a lot more because all the convenience food will either make me very sick or cost a hundred dollars. So anything that makes food easier or ways of breaking down recipes into smaller manageable steps has become GOLD to me.

            So yeah, I am Very Excited about your new blog, especially the kitchen parts. 🙂 I look forward to seeing more from it!

      • Karoline
        Posted at 16:41h, 06 January Reply

        Oh goodness, I can’t believe I didn’t realize.

        For mushrooms, you’ve already got a better solution than the apple corer. I used to use an eggslicer for mushrooms. I hadn’t to throw mine out a while t worked really well for mushrooms, and strawberries too if that comes up for you.

        • Jules Sherred
          Posted at 16:44h, 06 January Reply

          The egg slicer for mushrooms and strawberries is brilliant! It’s fills me with great joy to know that those other two areas will go to good use.

          Strawberries come up during the summer when they are in season here. But, I’ve been thinking of trying strawberries in my AeroGarden Farm Plus so I can have them all year round, so that makes this tip perfect!

          Thanks, again 🙂

  • Karoline
    Posted at 11:01h, 17 January Reply

    One more for you – I haven’t tried this yet, but my mother (70+ yo, who has some hand problems) and my sister (who has ALLLLLLLL the fibro ever) swear by this thing. It’s a “mix and chop” apparently makes breaking up ground meat for browning a lot easier.

    https://www.amazon.com/Pampered-Chef-Mix-Chop-2583/dp/B0011UFPXU

    • Jules Sherred
      Posted at 11:31h, 17 January Reply

      Oh, neat! It’s not often that I cook with beef but this will certainly help the couple times of month that I do! I’ll purchase this probably at the end of the month and if goes well, I’ll include in a second post about kitchen essentials.

      Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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