Shop RNIB Donate now

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) toolkit

Preparing food

This activity looks your ability to prepare a simple one course meal from fresh ingredients.

Image: Older woman’s hands, pouring tea from a teapot into a cup, using an audible Liquid Level Indicator

Questions relevant to sight loss

The descriptors (legal tests) are:

Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal.

Points: 2

Cannot cook a simple meal using a conventional cooker but is able to do so using a microwave.

Points: 2

Needs prompting to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal.

Points: 2

Needs supervision or assistance to either prepare or cook a simple meal.

Points: 4

More information to help you answer the questions

This activity assesses your ability to open packaging, serve food, peel and chop food and use a microwave oven or cooker hob to cook or heat food. Carrying items around the kitchen is not included in this activity.

Cooking food means heating food at above waist height – for example, using a microwave oven or on a cooker hob. It does not consider the ability to bend down – for example, to access an oven.

Serving food means transferring food on to a plate or bowl. It does not involve carrying food to where it will be eaten.

If you can peel and chop with the use of an aid you will score 2 points.

If you use pre-chopped vegetables because you cannot peel and chop even with an aid, you will need assistance to prepare a simple meal and so score 4 points.

Top tips

When answering the questions think about:

  • The steps involved both in preparing food items from scratch and then cooking a main meal
  • Do you need someone to help you to prepare or cook food - what do they do? Or does someone have to be in the kitchen keeping an eye on you to make sure you are safe?
  • What aids do you use to help you cook? Bumpons on your kitchen equipment? A liquid level indicator? Adapted chopping boards? Electric chopper? Finger guard (to protect your fingers when chopping)? Anything else?
  • Can you see to identify ingredients, to read packaged food, to weigh ingredients etc?
  • Can you tell if a food item is stale or has gone off?
  • Can you cook safely? Have you cut yourself or burnt yourself in the past?
  • When cutting/chopping/peeling items can you see the knife blade or peeler, or is it blurred for example? Can you see both the item to be chopped and the knife at the same time?
  • Are you able to open cans using the pull ring or a standard can opener?
  • Do you have to use ready meals or pre-chopped vegetables? Make it clear if you buy these items because you have difficulty preparing and cooking food, not because you prefer them
  • Can you safely move items into and out of the oven or microwave? Do you need to wear long oven gloves or use guards to protect yourself?
  • Do you need help with reading instructions and use-by dates?
  • Can you tell when water in a pan is boiling? Or do you need to use a boil alert?
  • Can you cope with hot pans?
  • Can you use a cooker hob safely?
  • Can you tell where to place your pans on the hob?
  • Are you able to rely on non-visual information to tell whether the hob is on or off (e.g. listening to the gas or feeling the dials for the hob)?
  • Do you need help to know when food is cooked?
  • Do you have to rely on timings rather than visual information to estimate when food is cooked?

Put your answers in the section called “Extra information”.