Empowering occupational therapy practitioners with a playbook of functional tasks to use with their geriatric clients

Simple Food Preparation – Stove Top

Simple Food Preparation – Stove Top

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I think it’s important to work on food preparation with all of my clients who are planning to discharge to the community. If I have concerns about the client’ s safety, I start them with a Nothing Hot, Nothing Sharp activity. However, if they do well with that activity or demonstrate adequate functional cognition skills including safety awareness, I move on to a food preparation task using the stove top.

There are a variety of thing that can be cooked easily on a stove top. Many of them of inexpensive and can be stored easily in a therapy gym. My team stocks up periodically so that we always have a variety of simple foods available to cook with clients. I also work with our kitchen for pantry stable items as we need them.


Assess and develop executive functioning skills


Great for 1:1 treatment

Time Frame

10-30 minutes

Materials Required

  • Ingredients necessary for preparing a simple food such as grilled cheese, Jell-O, oatmeal, or eggs
  • Mixing bowls, pots, frying pan, plates, bowls, and utensils as needed
  • Stovetop
  • Hot pads
  • A work space such as a counter or table
  • Written recipes (preferably in large print) for each food available for the client to prepare


  • Clarify client’s dietary restrictions including texture and medical (diabetic, renal, cardiac, etc.)


  1. Ask the client to select a food item to prepare.
  2. Ensure that the client washes their hands and sanitizes the work area prior to beginning. If client does not initiate hygiene, direct client to complete tasks.
  3. Ask the client to identify the items they will need to prepare the food, including ingredients, mixing bowls, plates, utensils, etc. Cue the client to create a list if needed to aid in their ability to recall.
  4. Direct the client to locate all necessary items and place them on the counter or table.
  5. Ask the client to read aloud the recipe/instructions or verbally explain to you the steps for preparing the food item they selected.
  6. Review stovetop safety including using a hot pad to handle hot items.
  7. Direct the client to follow the recipe. Provide verbal cues and physical assistance if necessary but allow client to complete activity as independently as possible.
  8. Allow the client to eat the food prepared, sharing if socially appropriate and hygiene standards have been adequately maintained.

Special Notes

It is recommended to allow the client to choose from at least two options when selecting the food item to prepare however the therapist may wish to provide only one food item if the client has significant dietary restrictions.

It is important to ensure hygiene standards are maintained throughout the activity so that food can be shared if socially appropriate after it is prepared.

It is recommended that this activity be completed as a 1:1 intervention when the client is using the stove top for the first time during therapy so that the therapist can mediate safety concerns if they arise.

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