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Bridges Blog Series: Diving Into December 2021

Diving Into December: Organizing Your Kitchen

As we enter December, we reflect on the previous year and begin to set goals for the swiftly approaching New Year. December is a great time to get organized to be ready for all that the holiday season and the New Year has to offer, so get excited to dive into these topics with us this month:

  • Organizing Your Wallet
  • Organizing Your Kitchen
  • Organizing Your Clothing
  • Organizing Your Mail

In this second installment of our “Diving into December” series, we will take a look at the best ways to organize visually-labeled items in your kitchen.

Why It Matters

Even if you are not much of a fan of cooking or have little exposure to how to cook nonvisually, keeping an organized kitchen can help you feel more confident in terms of preparing basic meals independently. You can organize your kitchen with various labels and/or strategic shelving, and then you can quickly locate any item you need without any hesitation. Whether you have goals of preparing quick meals or becoming a full-fledged chef, keeping an organized kitchen that is easy for you to navigate is key to whatever cooking activity you want to accomplish.

Methods for Labeling

Labeling items in Braille or audio indications can help you to quickly identify items in your kitchen. There are many ways to do this, and we encourage you to experiment and decide which method works best for you or use a combination of these methods:

Braille labels

You can create Braille labels at home using basic adhesive labels or Dymo Tape, and a slate and stylus or Braille writer. We recommend Braille labeling items that will last a long time, such as a spice container.

WayAround

This product is an app that you can download to your phone that allows you to create and scan labels (called WayTags) that you can purchase from the WayAround website. You could include anything you want in the label, including important notes such as what the item is, its expiration date, nutrition facts, and any cooking instructions. After creating the label, you can place it on an item, and later when you want to identify it, you can scan it with the app and your phone will speak aloud everything that you included in the label. Learn more about WayAround’s kitchen-specific labels here.

PenFriend

This is a device that allows you to create labels using your voice. You can include anything you want in the label, and then scan it later to identify it using the PenFriend device. The PenFriend will then play your recorded voice saying what the product is and any other item information you included in the recording. Find out more about the PenFriend here.  

Other Ways to Identify Items

Labeling is a fantastic way to keep your kitchen organized, but it can take time, and, depending on the labels used, there can be cost involved. There are other ways to maintain organization even when time and money are limited:

Strategic item placement

Establishing a system where you plan to store certain items in specific places can be a helpful way to identify items without necessarily having to label them. Perhaps you keep your favorite cereal all the way on the left-hand side of the cupboard, or maybe you keep canned soups on the bottom shelf and all other cans on the upper shelf. Or perhaps you keep the pepperoni frozen pizza above the veggie frozen pizza so that you always know which one you want to grab depending on your preference.

Tactile indicators

Placing a tactile indicator quickly on an item can be a fast and easy way to ensure you will be able to identify it. Do you want to make sure you eat the frozen green beans instead of the frozen veggies? You could place a snack bag clip on one of the bags to instantly tell them apart. Do you want to have the broccoli cheddar soup instead of the loaded potato? You can place a rubber band around one can to tell them apart. You could even put a small notch in the lid of a spice container using a knife to serve as a tactile indicator. For example, you could put a notch in the salt lid so you can tell it apart from the pepper by feel. Remember to make a very small notch or blemish which would be tactile, but not such a strong tactile mark that the lid would then be open.

Get creative

Think of ways to organize your kitchen that will be both memorable and workable for you. Remember that you are the one who needs to access the food items, and so making a system that works for you is key. The Bridges Helpdesk is here to help you brainstorm ideas to ensure that your kitchen is exactly how you want it to be regardless of the task at hand.

Contact us

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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