Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Shared Kitchen - Part 2

Today I’m going to be talking about how to create safe areas in which to keep your food and ingredients.

In order to keep your food and ingredients safe in a shared kitchen, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about what you’re dealing with as far as the other people in your house are concerned. For the most part it isn’t reasonable to expect everyone who enters your kitchen to be just as careful as you are with your food. So you have to plan accordingly. Especially at first because everyone is learning this along with you.

The best case scenario would be that you have an entire cabinet in which to keep your pantry foods and an entire shelf or drawer in the refrigerater in which to keep your refrigerated foods.

If you can do that, find a way to visually block off those areas. A cheap and easy way to do this is with brightly colored post-it notes, a piece of paper with a note indicating that this is your area (For Dad Only!! or Gluten-free only, please don’t touch!!) taped to the cabinet, shelf or drawer.

If you don’t have enough space to commandeer whole areas, you can also go the box route. In most stores such as Walmart, Target, etc. you can get various sizes of plastic boxes with lids. (Make sure you measure the areas where you’re going to keep your food so you don’t end up with boxes that don’t fit.) You can put your food in the boxes without anyone having to worry about using the wrong thing.

Boxes are also very helpful in protecting against any airborne flour if other family members still use gluten-containing flour in your home for baking or coating fried foods. Flour is such a fine particle that it can stay airborne for up to 48 hours, and settle on surfaces. Keeping your food (and food prep items) in a cabinet, a drawer or a covered box will keep this from being a problem. Just remember to clean off any exposed work areas, such as countertops, before preparing your food.

If you don't have the space to have a separate area or a box for your food, you can label the lids of all your foods and secure them with rubber bands. In theory just a note or label written on it should keep people out, but I’ve learned from experience that most people are on autopilot and just grab the mayo, peanut butter or whatever and don’t pay too much attention to notes. So a rubber band usually does the trick to remind them that they shouldn’t be using it.

You probably won’t have to go to such extremes forever. Once the whole household is used to everything you should be able to relax a bit. But when you’re all in the learning process, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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