Good Gadgets

Kitchen tools that make cooking easier and safer

The right tools make cooking easier. This isn’t only a motto for professional chefs everywhere — it’s key for older adults, too. 

As adults age, their strength and abilities change, says Donald Owsley, RN, a nurse with All Family Health Care, a home healthcare agency in Chicago. Tools and techniques that individuals have used for years don’t always work as they get older. But the right gadget can help them prepare meals more comfortably. 

The goal is to help people keep eating nutritious meals. “It’s very important to make sure people have the right tools to be able to cook for themselves and keep that sense of independence as long as they possibly can,” says Mallory Storrs, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at Advocate South Suburban Hospital.

No matter your age, you don’t have to wait to start using these tools in your kitchen. The tools that make cooking easier for older adults can make prep easier for cooks of all ages, Storrs says. 

Here are a few of the kitchen tools Owsley and Storrs recommend to make cooking — and cleanup — easier.

Slow cookers

Slow cookers offer a one-pot option. They simplify the cooking process because you don’t need to monitor burners, cook over an open flame, or use multiple pots and pans. 

Cleanup is easier too, especially if you use a liner bag. “I always encourage using a slow cooker with food placed in a plastic liner bag,” Storrs says. “There is no cleanup, and all you have to do is throw away the bag.” 


Make sure you have a good grip on your knife, so it doesn’t slip. Rubberized grip handles for knives make prep work safer. Beware of dull knives, as they require more pressure to use, making them more likely to slip. 

Further protect yourself when using knives by investing in specialized gloves. “I also recommend using a cut-resistant glove, which you can wear on your nondominant hand to protect yourself from potential injury,” Storrs says.


It’s safer to use microwaves that sit at counter level rather than ones that hang above the stove. “If you heat food up and have to lift your arms above your head to reach it, there’s a greater chance of spilling or burning yourself,” Storrs says. 

“Also, it’s easier to work a microwave with a pull handle versus one that has a button to open the microwave. Buttons can be harder to push if you have grip-strength issues or arthritis in your fingers,” she says.

To prevent burns, use kitchen mitts to take food out of the microwave, Owsley says. He also recommends covering food with a microwave splatter shield to prevent burn injuries and make cleanup easier. 


Compact personal blenders or bullet-shaped blenders are easy to use and easy to clean. They are ideal for making small batches of nutritious smoothies and soups. “Some of them are good for dicing up fruits and vegetables, too,” Owsley says. Plus, they are lightweight and easy to store. 


Compact food choppers may be good alternatives to dicing vegetables with a knife, although they do require hand strength. 

Food processors are also good for chopping veggies such as onions, although the multiple parts can be a hassle to clean.

Kitchen shears can be easier to use than a knife for trimming meat or mincing herbs. 

Kitchen mats 

Ergonomic, nonslip mats for the kitchen floor ward off achy joints. “They provide cushioning for your knees and joints when you’re standing for long periods of time,” Storrs says. A nonskid mat helps prevent falls, too.

cobb salad

Healthy Cobb Salad with Ranch Dressing

Makes two servings

This healthy Cobb salad recipe utilizes helpful tools such as a knife with a grip handle, a food chopper, and a compact personal blender, making the process of chopping and dicing a breeze. 




2 cups mixed lettuce greens

2 ounces cooked chicken

6 cherry tomatoes

1 hardboiled egg

1/2 avocado

1/4 medium cucumber 

2 slices turkey bacon, cooked

2 teaspoons reduced-fat blue cheese



6 ounces unsweetened, fat-free yogurt

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup

1 teaspoon dried chives

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper



1. Use a knife with a grip handle or a food chopper to chop lettuce, or purchase precut lettuce. Divide between two bowls. 

2. Use chopper or knife to chop chicken, tomatoes, egg, avocado, and cucumber. With kitchen shears or chopper, snip cooked turkey bacon into small pieces. 

3. Place chopped toppings on top of lettuce in bowls. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon blue cheese on each salad.

4. To make dressing, place all ingredients into compact personal blender or food processor. Process until well blended. Top each salad with dressing.

Makes two servings. A serving is 1 salad: 256 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 138 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 4 g fiber, and 23 g protein.