In just a few hours, or even less, and without spending much money, you can organize your kitchen so that everyone in the family can easily find either the regular or gluten-free foods they want. In fact, you may already have everything you need to create a welcome environment for everyone in the family.
If the Entire Family Eats Gluten-Free
Your job is about done before you even start. Since everyone will be eating gluten-free meals at home, you only need to do two things:
~ swap out your wheat-based products for gluten-free ones, and
~ empty a cupboard or large drawer, and set aside a shelf in the fridge, to put wheat-based snacks or foods for those family members who can eat them and still want them.
Let everyone in the family know how you have organized the kitchen, and you're good to go!
If Some But Not All of the Family Eats Gluten-Free
You have the bigger challenge. Keeping two sets of food organized and separate can be difficult, especially if family members are careless or if you have young children to keep track of.
If You Have Young Gluten-Intolerant Children:
Clean out a lower kitchen cupboard they can easily reach, and a lower refrigerator shelf, and stock them with gluten-free foods they can just grab. Check these areas regularly to make sure no wheat-based foods have been placed there, and keep these areas well-stocked with foods and snacks your child likes to reduce temptation to eat wheat-based foods. This arrangement will allow your gluten-intolerant child to take food for school, for snacks, for bringing to friends' houses, for eating on trips, or just anytime.
Put all your wheat-based foods in the upper kitchen cupboards and upper fridge shelves, even if you have other young children who are not gluten-intolerant. Far better that they should eat G-F foods than that your gluten-intolerant child should eat wheat-based food. When you're around, you can hand them wheat-based snacks from the upper cupboards or shelves as long as they know not to share with their gluten-intolerant sibling.
If You Have Gluten-Intolerant Adults or Older Children:
Set aside at least one kitchen cupboard and one refrigerator & freezer shelf, and more if you can spare them, for your gluten-intolerant family member. Fill them with gluten-free foods you know are liked, and stock them with g-f pastas, mixes, and other g-f products for cooking and baking. Buy g-f pizzas, burritos, fish sticks, donuts, and other g-f ready-made meals and goodies, and tuck them into the freezer for quick snacks or meals.
Hints and Tips
For most families, duplicates of a few kitchen items will make your life much easier, and will keep your gluten-intolerant family member well.
~ Have a separate butter dish for the gluten-intolerant eater. Cleaning out bread crumbs from the butter wastes time and energy, not to mention butter!
~ Get a second toaster for toasting G-F breads, bagels, English muffins, etc. It's impossible to get all the bread crumbs out of a toaster, and it takes forever to try.
~ If family members are not scrupulous about cleaning mixers, blenders, measuring cups & spoons, and other kitchen tools and appliances, get a duplicate for the gluten-intolerant member.
~ Line oven racks, toaster ovens, and roasting pans with aluminum foil, so wheat-based pizza crusts, spills, and other wheat-based products don't contaminate G-F foods in the oven. Line baking pans and cookie sheets with baking parchment or aluminum foil to prevent contamination.
~ Buy new kitchen storage containers for G-F flours and mixes, and mark them conspicuously so there's no confusion. Always use the same containers to avoid cross-contamination.
~Sifters work very well to help mix and separate g-f flour blends, or you can use a wire mesh strainer. Whichever you choose, make sure you only use it for g-f flours, since it is nearly impossible to remove all the flour from a sifter.
~ If you wash your dishes in the sink, make sure to rinse thoroughly under running water to remove any crumbs or traces of food. Dunking dishes in a sink full of water may not remove all traces of foods. Better still, use the dishwasher for everything that can safely be run through it. Have a separate "scrubbie" for gluten-free dishes, since scrubbies are notorious for holding food in them, and replace your dishcloth daily.
Well, there you have it. You have now converted your kitchen to be G-F friendly.