If you or someone in your household has food allergies, then organizing your kitchen is essential to keep everyone safe! Organize your kitchen cabinets, pantry and fridge to ensure that no one accidentally eats anything that they are allergic to. In this case, an organized kitchen could literally save someone’s life!
The first step in organizing your kitchen for food allergy safety is to take all of the food out of the cabinets or fridge and go through it. Separate food with allergen ingredients. Depending on the severity of the allergy, you might want to eliminate some foods from your kitchen entirely.
Use separate shelves or cabinets
Give allergy-friendly foods their own space, whether it’s a shelf or a whole cabinet, keeping them separate will help avoid confusion and accidental ingestion. For example, if someone has Celiac Disease (allergic to gluten), then put all of gluten-free foods in their own kitchen cabinet or section of the pantry. If someone has a nut allergy, then put all items without nuts in their own spot.
In one case I had a client whose young daughter had Celiac disease. They happened to have two tall cabinets on either side of their kitchen. So, we put all of the safe, gluten-free foods in one cabinet and all of the other food in the other. This included packaged and canned foods, as well as baking goods such as rice flour. The child knew to only choose foods from one cabinet and not to eat anything from the other.
If you have small children, then, you know they can get into anything, be sure to keep the foods they are allergic to out of reach on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet.
Label everything! Label containers, lids, shelves, drawers, and cabinets. Label as much as you need to ensure that everyone in your household knows what’s what. It’s not enough that the box of cereal says “gluten free”. Items look similar and can be easily mixed up. Empty the contents into a container and label the container, or use a sharpie marker and label the box opening with large letters. Stickers work well too. Use large, brightly colored stickers to mark safe or unsafe foods.
Another good visual technique for organizing for food allergies is using different colored containers. For example, store all of your allergy-free foods in blue containers and all of your foods containing allergens in red containers, or in their original containers. This will give you an added level of identification.
If there are multiple people in your home with different food allergies, then come up with a color-coding system for each person. Billy gets blue, Rachel gets red, etc. You can also put the person’s initials on the top of the container.
Organize the fridge and freezer, too
Use the same system for the fridge and freezer that you created for non-perishables. Be sure to label everything that goes in the fridge or freezer with a marker. Use separate shelves or bins here, too. Labeling is especially important for the freezer, as items can be hard to identify once they are frozen.
Keep a List
Keep a list of each person’s allergies in the kitchen in case of an emergency. Keeping a list on the inside of a cabinet door makes it accessible while looking for food. These lists can also include doctor and emergency phone numbers and a plan of action in case of an allergic reaction. If an epi pen is necessary, keep one nearby and put its location on the list.
If you have a baby or toddler with allergies be sure to have everyone wash their hands when they come in the house and before and after meals. Remind older kids (and adults) to stay at the table for the entire meal and eat over their plates to lessen the chance of problem foods falling on the floor.
Using these strategies to organize your kitchen for food allergy safety, everyone can stay safe and healthy, even if you have a household with various allergies.
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