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Cooking with Dementia

We are pleased to share some of our tips to create “A Recipe for Success in the Kitchen.” One or more of us has found each of these tips helpful and we hope that you do too. Maybe one of our ideas will help you generate an idea of your own that helps you continue to experience success in the kitchen.

Dementia Minds is also proud to be project partners in the development of “Cooking Our Way: A Cookbook By and For People Living with Dementia.”

Click here for a PDF copy of the cookbook.

Click here to order a print copy of the cookbook.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to watch portions of our video discussion as we identified the tips we have prepared for you.

Optimizing the Kitchen Environment

  • Supporting a person living with dementia is highly individualized, including optimizing the kitchen environment. For example, removing doors from kitchen cupboards so that items are easily seen may be helpful for one person while Another person will find seeing all the items overstimulating.
  • Make sure you have optimal lighting.
  • Have contrasting colors of flooring and cabinetry.
  • Have fewer items in each kitchen drawer and cabinet.
  • Do not overstock cupboards, pantry, or refrigerator.
  • Declutter your countertops.
  • There is a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Do not rearrange food items, dishes, etc.
  • Put spices in a drawer and make sure the label is facing up.

Maintaining the Kitchen Safety

  • Eliminate any distractions. For example, turn off the television, radio, silence your phone, etc.
  • Label the burner knob you most often use.
  • Put an X on the buttons on appliances you do not typically use.
  • Disable burners that you do not use.
  • Use childproof knobs to prevent accidentally turning on a stove or burner.
  • Use pot cover spill stopper lids to prevent boilovers.
  • Keep a hot pad on a dish that is hot until it is completely cooled.
  • Use an appliance that has automatic start/stop functions, such as an air fryer.
  • Post a sign that says “I am cooking. Do not leave the kitchen.”
  • Tell others in the home you are going to be cooking.

Planning a Menu

  • Prepare basic menu cards to consult when trying to decide what to prepare.
  • Prepare a month’s worth of menus to consult when trying to decide what to prepare.
  • Use apps, like Supercook, that create recipes based on what you already have at home.
  • Write what you prepared on a calendar each day to help you avoid repeats.
  • Stick with tried and true recipes.
  • Make it fun and prepare menus with a family member or friend.

Creating a Shopping List

  • A list is a must when going to the store.
  • Base your list on pre-planned recipes.
  • Take a tour of your home as you make your list.
  • Organize your shopping list according to the store layout (or have someone do this for you.)
  • Keep lists short by shopping more frequently.
  • Use a grocery pick-up or delivery service.
  • Use electronic devices such as Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, and Siri on your Apple phone, etc.


  • Write down each step of the recipe and cross out each step as it is done.
  • Line up all the ingredients in order of use.
  • Pre-measure all the ingredients before starting the recipe.
  • Use multiple measuring cups so that each item can be measured and lined up in order of use.
  • Use various sizes of measuring cups such as ¼, and ½.
  • Pre-measure ingredients into individual bowls so when the bowl is empty, you know the ingredient has been added.
  • Put each ingredient away immediately after measuring into individual measuring cups or bowls.
  • Use meal services with pre-measured and pre-cut ingredients.
  • Have a care partner do the prep work (and the dirty dishes).
  • Use one pot and crock pot recipes.
  • Use microwave ready meals.
  • Select recipes for cold meals.

Utilizing Timers and Reminders

  • Use stove timer when preparing a single item.
  • When preparing multiple items, use multiple timers such as a stove timer, phone timer, kitchen timer, etc. Write down what to do when each timer goes off. For example, turn off the pasta on the burner, take the vegetables out of the microwave, etc.
  • Set a reminder on device such as Alexa that will instruct you what to turn off. For example, turn off the potatoes on the burner, the meatloaf in the oven, etc.

Cooking for Company and Special Occasions

  • Keep it simple.
  • Prepare your menu in advance.
  • Prepare portions of the meal over a series of days and freeze.
  • Prepare one food item and invite guests to bring a dish to share.
  • Buy prepared meals (or portions of a meal) from the grocery store or a restaurant.

Helping Me Experience Success in the Kitchen: The Dos and Don’ts


  • Ask me how you can help.
  • Help me explore apps and technology devices that assist me in the kitchen.
  • Help with prep work.
  • Help me with clean up.
  • Put food items, dishes, and other kitchen items in the same place.
  • Buy me a grocery delivery service subscription.
  • Let me try.


  • Talk to me when I am cooking.
  • Hover over me.
  • Take over.



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