Sharing a gluten-free kitchen with others that are gluten-full can be very tricky. I’ve gotten LOTS of questions about this over the years, so I thought it might be helpful for you all to see hear about how my husband and I have made sharing a kitchen work for both of us.
Background: I am gluten-free (obvi) and SUPER-DUPER sensitive. Anthony — my hubby– is gluten-full, has the stomach of a tank, and has a love for bread (toast, specifically) like no one I have ever met. Because I could/would never ask him to go gluten-free on my behalf, we do have some, but few, gluten-full items in our household.
As with anything in life, it’s most important to find out what works best for YOU and your loved ones, but here’s what has worked for us.
Designate separate food prep areas.
The one gluten-full thing Anthony eats every day without fail is toast for breakfast. He always cuts and preps his food in the same place (right in front of the toaster) and never, ever deviates. He’s great about wiping down the counters after he’s done, but I always steer completely clear of that area when prepping and cooking our food, just to be safe.
Use a separate toaster or choose a “side”.
We have a 4-slice toaster, and Anthony uses the left 2 slots, and I use the right two. More specifically, Anthony tends to use the FAR left and I use the FAR right, as we both usually only make one slice of toast at a time. This way the crumbs are as far away as possible. For some, there’s more peace of mind with having two completely separate and dedicated toasters, but the 4-slice has worked well for us so far!
Lightly hand wash dishes before they go into the dishwasher.
In our house, we don’t have separate dishes and flatware, so Anthony makes sure to lightly hand wash all of the dishes and flatware that come into contact with gluten before they go into the dishwasher, to make sure that no residue remains. This helps to keep gluten crumbs from flying around in the dishwasher, and makes me more comfortable knowing that my health isn’t solely relying on a sometimes finicky machine.
Buy an extra pot/pan for gluten-free only use (or for gluten-full only use) and keep it in a separate cabinet.
If you are the only person in your house that is gluten-free, buy yourself an extra pot and pan for cooking anything that you will be eating, ESPECIALLY pasta. Most pots/pans are actually pretty porous, and it can be tough to actually get them clean and contaminant-free after gluten has been used in/on them. If you only have one eater in your house that is gluten-full buy them a separate pot /pan for their regular pasta/french toast, etc. All of our pots and pans are strictly g-free (since my husband is wonderful and agrees to eat g-free pasta and such with me!) with the exception of one pan for french toast.
Same goes for cutting boards, a bread knife, colander, baking sheets, etc.
I know this list looks long (and there are even others that I didn’t even mention — hence the “etc”) but it is SO worth it to have a few duplicate items in your house to ensure your health and well-being. Like above, determine which items will be used more — the gluten-free ones or the gluten-full ones — and then purchase inexpensive duplicates for the items that will be used less. Look for items that are on clearance or shop at a store like Ikea (two cheers for $3 colanders and $1.50 cutting boards!) or Home Goods.
Keep separate condiments such as butter, jam, mayo, peanut butter, hummus, etc. and label them!
In our house, Anthony has his peanut butter and jam, and I have mine. “LEAH” is written HUGE on the lid of everything that is to be kept gluten-free and untainted. We’ve found that this method works best so Anthony doesn’t have to worry about absent mindedly double-dipping when smearing the peanut butter on his toast, and I don’t have to double check with him every.single.time I want some jam.
Make a no double-dipping rule.
I realize that having two of everything simply just doesn’t make sense, for a lot of different reasons. So for the items that you do share, make a firm no double-dipping rule. Label all the shared gluten-free items with a big “GF” and make sure everyone knows that double dips are NOT allowed. Need some mayo? Spoon some out for your sandwich, and use a separate knife to spread. Need more? Use the unglutened spoon, or grab a fresh knife. (This method makes me nervous for lots of reasons, but I know many that execute it well!)
Keep gluten-free snacks in a different cabinet or on a different shelf.
If you’re like me and cook in a rush more often than you’d like to admit, or have a serious case of “Hangry Blinders” — you know, when you get so hungry that you’ll eat just about anything and everything in your path without really paying any attention — keeping a designated area for your gluten free foods will be a life saver. As long as you are very careful when stocking the pantry, you shouldn’t have to think twice when you’re in a rush/super hangry. Just make sure that the gluten-free foods are kept ABOVE the gluten-full items, so crumbs don’t fall on to and contaminate the g-free food when little “mice” dig into the gluten-full cookies or crackers.
It may all sound a bit daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you and your family won’t even have to think twice about how you use your space. The procedure and rules will be second nature!
Though I do have to give a BIG shout out to my husband here — he is a saint. He is so understanding and supportive of my need to be gluten-free, and has adapted his habits and life to accommodate my needs with no complaining at all. I sincerely hope that you have people that are just as wonderful in your life!
Have any other tips or tricks for keeping your kitchen safe? What do you do differently? What’s worked? What hasn’t worked?
I’ve come to find that there is always something we can learn from each other to make our gluten-free lives a little simpler and a little safer. I’d love to hear from you!