As a follow-up to my post about cooking, I wanted to add a post about independent living and meal preparation. One of the biggest obstacles or difficulties with independent living for young adults with disabilities can be struggling with life skills, such as cooking or preparing healthy meals. Covid-19 has further complicated things by not always allowing for support staff to be available to assist individuals with disabilities with tasks such as meal prep and grocery shopping when needed.
About a year ago, I discovered a small business here in Bloomington called The Fresh Fork. A young couple operates the business. Customers can create an account on their website and choose from a list of available protein, veggie, and carbohydrate options to create their own customized meals from the weekly menu online. Meals come in different portion sizes and can either be picked up or delivered. Once you receive your meals, you simply pop them in the microwave for three minutes or so and eat up! An example of a recent meal I had: cilantro lime chicken with sides of garlic roasted broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes. It was really good.
The Fresh Fork has been very helpful given that we are going through Covid-19 right now. It means I don’t have to pick up Five Guys or eat a Lean Cuisine every other night. They actually offer healthy options that taste good. They also offer kid-friendly lunch and dinner options and vegetarian and gluten-free choices as well.
So, what if you don’t live in Bloomington, Indiana?
Freshly is a company similar to The Fresh Fork, but it ships nationwide. Each week, Freshly offers an array of chef and nutritionist-crafted meals that can be heated in the microwave. Weekly meal plans range from four to 12 meals per week, and prices vary but start at about $12 per meal. The weekly online menu consists of more than 30 meal choices per week. Change up the number of meals selected from week to week, skip a week, or cancel at any time.
Other services such as Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef are somewhat similar to Freshly, but ship recipes and ingredients to subscribers and allow them to do the preparation and cooking themselves. Although my family did at one point discuss the idea of my subscribing to a service like these, we never actually have, simply because I would need assistance to make the food. So it’s probably better for me to find a service that allows subscribers to just heat the food in the microwave and eat it. That is, if independent living is truly the name of the game. However, I wanted to include these companies and others like them, because for those interested, they may also be a viable option.
In certain cities where available, personal chef services may also be worth considering. The great thing about a personal chef service is that it saves the individual or family tons of time and frees them up to focus on other things. A personal chef service that I am familiar with in Bloomington takes care of the necessary shopping, preparation, cooking, and clean up for clients. However, for a young adult with disabilities who may be working on increasing independent living skills, such an option may not be the best because the individual does nothing at all; the chef does it all for them. However, for individuals with complex health issues, those caring for someone who may need substantial support, or individuals who are simply very busy, this can be a great option.
An individual’s level of comfort and confidence in the kitchen will vary.
Based on skill, ability, and experience, an individual’s level of comfort and confidence in the kitchen will vary. It’s okay to let young people experiment in the kitchen. It can be fun for them and help build confidence provided they go about it safely and with supervision when needed. Some young people may get to the point where they are completely comfortable and capable of cooking a four-course meal, while others may not. In any case, these are just some options to consider for your teen or young adult with a disability as they begin the journey into the adult world and start to get hungry.