Multipurpose Foods

The Swiss army knife was invented in 1897, and since has become known worldwide as a symbol of multiple use and application. The manufacturers have touted that, “you can do anything with a Swiss army knife!” You can cut. You can eat. You can saw.  You can magnify. You can tweeze, and you can unscrew. The only thing you can’t do, is eat it. That’s where multipurpose food comes in to play. This article offers a quick list of foods, although not Swiss in origin, that you can use for various tasks. And you can eat them too.


Apple Cider Vinegar – This strong vinegar makes excellent salad vinaigrette and is a necessary ingredient found in many grilling and bbq sauces.  But once you put it in a spray bottle it becomes a weed killer, ant deterrent, glass cleaner and chrome polish. You can also add it to your pet’s drinking water to discourage fleas. And if you think that isn’t enough, you can also neutralize jelly fish and bee stings with it. Yes, you can be a hero, and ACV can help.


Virgin Coconut Oil – Is used today by millions of people around the world. It’s an excellent substitute for butter and lends itself well for all-around healthy cooking. Since it’s solid at room temperature you can also bake with it in gourmet recipes where you would normally use hydrogenated vegetable oils and animal lard. However, coconut oil cooking is not just for healthy recipes, it is also used as skin moisturizer and can prevent protein loss in hair. If you have some time on your hands (and a chemical engineering degree) you can also make biodiesel with it and run your hippie van across the country. It has even come in handy to loosen up the different parts of my daughter’s wooden babooshka doll. I always keep a jar of Kelapo virgin coconut oil in my pantry.


Coca-Cola – There has never been a more iconic drink. From modern American cities to the most remote reaches of the African jungle, Coca-Cola is known as that dark, refreshing, effervescing drink invented by American pharmacist John Pemberton in the late 19th century. Aside from being a refreshing, sugary drink, it also has many other uses. Hollywood mops movie set floors with Coca-Cola before a fight scene to make sure the actors don’t slip. You can clean burnt pans by boiling some Coca-Cola in them. You can soak gum in it to get it out of your kid’s hair. And the United Satates Navy uses it to clean marine film from the hull of their submarines.


This should give you some useful ideas of products to have around your kitchen. Because you never know when your skin will need moisturizing, or when your submarine will need cleaning. Do you have your own multipurpose foods? If so, please email me at


Chef Cristian Feher, Tampa Bay Chef Services

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