By Angela

TBI and Cooking

Each brain injury is different, so not all survivors will experience the same things. TBIs can produce problems with reading, distractibility, problem-solving, memory, sequencing, motor coordination, fatigue, and multi-tasking. Any of these things can impact the TBI survivor’s ability to successfully cook or prepare a meal. Below are some problems which may occur and possible accommodations to make the experience more successful.

Potential Cooking Problems

1. I forget where the measuring cups, bowls, spices, etc. are located in the kitchen.

Place note cards on cabinet doors and kitchen drawers identifying what is located inside. Laminating them and taping them in place makes them last longer and withstand cleaning. These are not only helpful for the TBI survivor, but also for visiting friends and family who come over to help.

2. I get distracted and forget food cooking on the stove or in the oven.

For stove top cooking, make yourself sit on a chair in front of the stove until you are done and have turned off the stove.

Carry an alarm with you, or buy one you can clip onto your clothes, to remind you to return to the stove top, microwave or oven.

Cook with a crock pot.

Cook rice in a rice cooker which automatically shuts off when the rice is done.

Cook vegetables in a steamer which has a timer on it which turns the appliance off when the specified time has elapsed.

3. My eye-hand coordination makes it difficult to cut up foods.

Use a food chopper.

Use scissors to cut up meat.

Purchase items which are already prepared, such as ready-to-stem vegetables, frozen items or items from the salad bar.

4. I have difficulty following recipes.

Use a post-it-note to go down the list of ingredients and/or to follow the directions one line at a time to avoid getting confused by all the words.

Place all necessary ingredients on the table or counter in front of you before you start preparing the recipe. As you use the item, put it away.

Cook 4-ingredient recipes.

5. I become fatigued from cooking.

With the help of a family member, friend or occupational therapist, rearrange your kitchen so that it works for you. For example, place dishes and utensils close to the dishwasher to make it easier to unload.

Manage your energy and time well by doing things like – rest or nap before taking on a big project like cooking, break up the task by preparing the ingredients in the morning or on one day and putting them together and cooking the recipe later in the day or the following day.

Cook in bulk.

Freeze some for later meals.

Plan your meals out so that you have several quick and easy or no-cook meals during the week.


Planning for Safety

  • Place a fire extinguisher close to the stove. Provide simple instructions that the TBI survivor can follow with pictures, if necessary.
  • Wear non-slip shoes at all times when cooking in the kitchen. Slick wet spots can cause falls and could possibly reinjure the person.
  • Place several largely written phone numbers next to the phone of people to call in case the TBI survivor needs help with problem-solving.
  • Make sure smoke detectors are working.


Make your own cook book with recipes
you like and are easy to fix.

1. Purchase a binder which has a see-through pocket to place a cover sheet.

2. Make a cover sheet for your recipe book and slide it into the pocket on the front of the binder.

3. Purchase some sheet protectors and place inside the recipe book.

4. Place your recipes in the sheet protectors. This acts like a laminated recipe card and allows for easy clean-up if you have some unwanted splashes.

5. Include the following ideas in your recipe book:

  • No-cook recipes
  • Quick & easy snacks
  • Crock pot recipes
  • Favorite family recipes
  • Names and phone numbers of restaurants that deliver and what you like to order, just in case you are too tired to cook, make a decision, or drive and there is nothing in the house to eat
  • Untried recipes that look easy. If you try the recipe and decide you don’t like it, simply remove it from the sheet protector and throw it away.


Cook Books

Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker, by Ranck and Good.

Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly: Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes for Your Slow Cooker, by Phyllis Pellman Good.

Four Ingredient Cookbook: Three Cookbooks in One, by Coffee and Cale.


Cooking Websites – Southern Food, Crock Pot and Slow Cooker Recipe Index

Moms Who – Crock Pot Recipes

Family Crock Pot

Tasty Crock Pot

Crock Pot

A Crock

For handout, click on the following and print out:







© Angela Cramer, 2008

Clipart, with the exception of cook book image, is the property of Jupiterimages made available through subscription:
© Jupiterimages Corporation, 2008


1 Response to “TBI and Cooking”

  1. December 14, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Hi, I log on to your blog daily. Your humoristic style is
    witty, keep up the good work!

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