Wheelchair in the Kitchen…Making your Kitchen more “Wheelchair Friendly”

31 Jan

Our Daughter on her 20th Birthday

  OK, so I don’t bake a special cake for everybody’s Birthday like I used to…..I have found that my local Bakery has  really good cakes and   Costco has an especially good selection of Birthday Cakes!  I used to be known for my desserts.  For many years the cake stand in my kitchen was never empty!

I even wrote my own cookbook…a project inspired by our daughter’s  graduation from college….After I married her Dad, she would come home for weekends and at the end of every meal she would tell me that she wanted the recipe!  So, for her Graduation, I presented her with a cookbook full of ALL of my recipes!  We ended up selling over 500 of them without ever having it “really” published. I always had a few in the backpack on my scooter and my husband had them in his car.   All right, it didn’t hurt that my local newspaper  did a feature on my cooking and PPS the week before Thanksgiving…I had the whole bottom half of the first page of the Food section, complete with a picture of my beautiful Red Velvet Cake. The photographer wanted me to slice it and put 1 slice on a plate!  I was mortified!  You know how the first piece often comes out messy?  Well, it came out perfectly!  WHEW!

Sun News, November 1994 1

 These days, I still cook, and occasionally even bake a cake or pie….but I try to make it as simple as I can.  I have developed a few tricks and short cuts along the way.I will try to share some of these Short Cuts and Kitchen Tips with you today.


  Some of the first changes that I made were suggestions from my friend.  We met on-line in the early 2000’s and have been great friends ever since.  She shared with me some of the (so obvious now) things that I should change in my kitchen.  She had been adapting because of the weakness of her arms for a longer time that I had.  The first thing she suggested that I should do was to get rid of my (heavy) glass measuring cups and exchange them for plastic.  On a shopping trip to the local Outlet Mall, she MADE me buy a set of 3 Dansk nesting bowls that were made of heavy-duty (but light) plastic with handles and pour spouts.  They also had rubber on the bottom to keep them from slipping while you stir.

I still have these bowls and use them more than any others that I have. She also suggested that I take advantage of the disposable aluminum casserole dishes, pie pans, etc. that are so available now.  I have to admit, that while that is a GREAT suggestion, that I haven’t fully taken her advice on that because my dear husband cleans up and washes the dishes and puts them away every day!  If I didn’t have his help in this area, I would definitely be buying and using more of the disposable baking dishes!

While visiting my friend for the first time in her home, I noticed that she had this nifty high chair on wheels.  I think its primary purpose is a bar stool, but when you have PPS, you learn to re-purpose a lot of things!  You should see her…she sits down while preparing dinner and rolls all over her kitchen!

Caron’s kitchen chair on wheels

My answer to the kitchen chair was different.  I had an island in the middle of the kitchen in the house that we were building.  I found a very comfortable chair that fits under a bar extension that I designed (pictured)  that I can rotate to attend to what I am cooking on the stove.  I chop vegetables at the bar while sitting and can easily see into pots or sit and stir or fry on the stove while sitting.  If I am in my wheelchair, I can raise my chair to bar height and use the same bar extension.  I haven’t had to cook very often (so far) from my wheelchair, TG!

Quick Tip 

Before I built my new house I learned to improvise.  One of the things I learned to do was to make a cutting surface that I could easily pull up to sit under…Here’s a picture of what I used to do….You can use a cutting board, or any kind of board that will fit across your open drawer…

This is a tray turned upside down on top of an open drawer. It makes a great place to sit and work.

I exchanged my heavy ironstone dishes for Corelle dishes.  We now use decorative plastic glasses instead of heavy glasses. I found a set of very heavy-duty (but light) stirring spoons, scrapers, etc. that do not bend. All of my dishes are on Rubbermaid organizers that make them easy for me to get without help.  They are either stored a single dish per shelf, or in some cases, on their sides on dish organizers.  All of my spices are within reach of my stove on turntables.  My pantry is also organized with everything on turntables, as is my refrigerator. I bought plastic bins that fit inside my freezer and labeled them.  Now, I don’t have to dig for my frozen food. I just pull out the appropriate bin one at a time.  This makes for very easy clean-out of the freezer when needed.

My freezer storage system

Spice storage



While I definitely don’t recommend that anybody with mobility problems EVER climb in the kitchen or ANYWHERE, I do admit that since I have gotten this step-stool with the high-rise hand hold, I do use it to reach  a little higher when my husband is not around.  The old 2 step, step stool is  dangerous for me!  I have fallen quite a lot and am much more careful now!
I also use this step stool in my bedroom closet.
If you are fortunate enough to be building or remodeling a home, I highly suggest that you replace lower cabinets with “Pots and Pans Drawers”.  The cabinet doors don’t get in the way when you are in your wheelchair and EVERYTHING in the drawer is accessible!

Pots and Pans Drawers replace lower cabinets

I almost forgot my most recent Kitchen gadget.  It is for browning hamburger.  I saw it on TV and immediately went to my local Kitchen Store. I have also seen it in catalogs.   It is called the “Chop-Stir”.    I couldn’t live without it now!  What a help! No more sore arms from just browning a pound of hamburger meat!

Chop Stir

Other things that I do differently now when I cook:

  • Double recipes or casseroles…1 for now and another to freeze for later
  • I buy boneless skinless chicken and cook and cut up and freeze in portions to be used for a quick recipe on another day.  I buy only when on sale.
  •  I make multiple salads at one time.  If you could get someone to help you chop vegetables for salad, you can store them separately in containers in your refrigerator for days for quick salads later.
  •  I buy salad in bags and add grape tomatoes and croutons to take to church suppers or covered dish dinners with my Bible Study.
  • Again, double, double, double!  I cook rice 8 cups at a time and freeze in qt. baggies…….
  • Look for cake recipes that start with a mix.  Some you don’t even need a mixer to make!  I will share recipes later on another Blog.
  • Processed foods are not good for us, but we can use some short cuts like ready-made pie crusts…or graham cracker pie crusts ( throw away the plate)
  • If I am planning to cook a “complicated recipe”, I get out all of the non-refrigerated ingredients and dishes, measuring spoons, etc. the night before, or in the morning if it is for supper that night.  Doing some work now, and the rest later is better pacing for us who have PPS.

I would really welcome any comments that any of you have that you have found helpful and would like to share with the rest of us!  If you can’t “comment” here for some reason, e-mail me and I will post it for you!

I hope that some of this has been helpful to you.  It is just a part of how I now have my life organized to try to maintain a little bit of “normalcy” to my life with PPS.

Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and encouragement!

Special Thanks and Much Love to my Husband , who is my best helper!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: