Sharing a Kitchen.

by , under Mom

The Little Kidlet has a lot of food allergies, and in our very crowded house (we live with my in-laws, which also includes TheBoy’s two adult brothers) LK and I are the only one with food issues- and mine is that I’m allergic to cow’s milk products.

In the last three years, I could count the cross contamination issues we’ve had on one hand. Which all things considered, is pretty darn good.

I thought I’d share some of the things that worked for us- just in case you have someone over with food allergies, and weren’t sure how to keep cross-contamination from happening. Or in case you’re dealing with some new food allergies.

Do you need two sets of things?

Yes, and no. You don’t need to buy a new set of cookware- most pans aren’t porous, so you can simply clean them well (more on that later) and things should be fine. The exception for this is cast iron. It IS a porous pan, meaning it absorbs little bits and pieces of everything you’ve cooked before. I use a cast iron skillet for LK- but it was one that I bought new and seasoned myself so that there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. And I don’t make anything in it that he can’t have.

Other common porous items in the kitchen are wooden & plastic utensils. I have my own set of wooden spoons, rubber spatulas and plastic spatulas. I also have my own wooden cutting board that we keep away from the main work area (and a couple of plastic ones that are just for his food). I also keep a separate set of plastic storage containers for LK’s food. It’s a different brand from the rubbermaid containers we use, so it sticks out. And I’ve managed to get everything in green- from his lunch containers to the storage boxes (even the plastic serving spoons I use on holidays). It makes it easier to identify.

But surely, with cooking there’s bound to be accidents. I usually make the Little Kidlet’s food first, so that I know the kitchen is clean, and then put it somewhere covered to keep it warm. So far, this has kept us from making a lot of accidents.

Now, cleaning. Before I bake, I clean off countertops using paper towels, so that I can throw them away. Cloth towels are used mostly for drying hands or cleaning up spills (and I do keep a separate set for when I’m making LK’s food). I keep an extra set of sponges and try to wash LK’s cookware using those instead of the sponges that clean everything else. And if I can, I wash his plates & pans in their own batch, instead of with everyone else’s dishes.

We’re lucky- the Little Kidlet’s reactions are limited to when he eats food he’s allergic to. I know a lot of people who can’t even be in the same room as a plate of food they’re allergic to (of course, I’m part of communities for people with multiple allergies, so my pool of people I know has a lot more people with allergies than you likely do).

I also own a label maker and label all the storage containers, just in case.

So these are my helpful hints. For those with food allergies and share a kitchen with those who don’t- what do you do?