Cooking frozen dinners

Many of our patients use frozen dinners for their meals. Yet, it is very difficult for patients who have low vision to read the directions on a frozen dinner. Each frozen dinner likely has different microwave cooking instructions and the print is always very small. We recommend using a system to make following the instructions easier. It does need the help of someone who has good enough vision to be able to read the instructions. After the meals have been brought home, the sighted person will separate them into the different microwave cooking instructions groupings. The cooking instructions are then written, using black felt tip pens, on yellow index cards which are taped to each frozen dinner. The instructions are only a few words. For example, cook 3 minutes on high, stir and then cook 2 minutes on high gets written as 3H, stir, 2H where “H” means cooking at the microwave’s high power setting. The meals then are stored in the freezer for future use.

Operating microwaves also can be difficult because of the small numbers on the control pads.  We mark microwave controls panels with raised, self-stick, dots that we affix to help identify the different control settings. Sometimes we create large print templates for patients to follow to help them identify specific buttons.

After just a few times of doing this, our patients can heat up their frozen dinners with ease from then on.

Thank you to Haralie Alpert, one our occupational therapists, for the idea for this article.