Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood - Directors/Coordinators Book

Handling kitchen emergencies safely

Page last updated: 21 April 2011

The cook’s day off

  • If the setting is large enough to employ a cook, it helps to have an extra day’s meal prepared and frozen, for a day when the cook is unable to come to work. (Some recipes that freeze well are provided in the Cooking for Children book, and are marked at the top of the recipe.) Unless the freezer at the setting is very large, it may be easier to prepare and freeze pasta sauce, for example, and cook pasta on the day. Any frozen food must be used within three months; if it is not needed for an emergency, it can be served and then simply replaced in the freezer by a freshly cooked meal.
  • Sandwiches are time-consuming to prepare for large numbers, and therefore not recommended if time is limited.
  • Baked beans with bread or toast are easy to prepare when time is limited.

What if the refrigerator breaks down?

  • The menu will need to be changed so that the most expensive foods can be used straight away. However, if the refrigerator is kept closed, the temperature will stay low for some time. Buying some ice to keep food cold will allow enough time for cooking, arranging for alternative storage or refrigerator repair.
  • Food that cannot be used straight away can perhaps be stored in another refrigerator – for example, parents’ refrigerators.
  • Until the refrigerator is repaired, any food served should be low-risk – for example, sandwiches with fillings such as baked beans, tomato, peanut butter (if it is allowed in the setting), egg or tuna (cooked or prepared just before it is needed).
  • Dishes containing low-risk food items can be prepared and served. Pasta, rice, onions, fresh and canned fruit, canned tomato and tuna are all low-risk foods. Canned, evaporated or dried milk is safe to include, as are canned or freezedried vegetables. Any food not used at a mealtime should be discarded.