Kitchens can become a disaster zone during Thanksgiving cooking. With food on every counter, dishes stacking up, garbage overflowing and too many people bumping into each other, it’s no wonder we can feel frazzled instead of thankful. We asked our friends at Porch.com for some easy tips to keep you and your kitchen operating smoothly on Thanksgiving.
1. Clear out the fridge and pantry.
Before the holidays, deep dive into these two food storage areas and clean them out. Empty out every drawer and shelf, throw away or compost expired foods, clean off each shelf or drawer and put back what you need. It’s so easy for sticky messes to form or spills to take place — both of these are prime conditions to attract bugs and vermin. Getting these two major food storage areas ready is the best way to know what you have on hand and what you need to purchase and to make room for all the new dishes you will be making.
2. Organize your recipes.
Even favorite family dishes sometimes require a recipe. And try as we might to do things ahead of time, we’re often preparing and cooking right up until dinnertime so not losing track of recipes is important. Due to the spills and splashes that are normal occurrences in the kitchen, you will want to ensure your cards or magazine tear-outs are somewhat protected yet completely in sight. Using a cookbook stand for books, a simple hook over a cabinet knob or even using easy-to-remove painter’s tape to stick a card onto the wall are great ways to keep your recipes from getting lost in the clutter. Having the recipes in plain sight can also encourage other family members to jump in without needing instruction from the host.
3. Move the party out of the kitchen.
Cooking multiple dishes with various cook times actually requires a lot of work and concentration, and having people moving in and out of your work space can be both distracting and dangerous. The quickest way to scoot everyone out of the kitchen? Move the beverage bar and appetizers far away from the kitchen. Like a herd travels to the watering hole, you can easily create the traffic flow you want by carefully placing drinks and apps into another area. If need be, borrow a table from another room (or a friend) to create a mini self-serve station. This will allow guests to help themselves and give you a chance to check on everything in the kitchen without too many bodies interfering with your work.
4. Plan the post-party wrap up.
Following the feast, the great cleanup must commence. If you can, do a quick job assignment (this works especially well with kids) and have the containers and wraps ready so no one has to go through every drawer to find them. Small kitchens need to do a quick transition from cooking to cleaning and it might help to do some of the work, like scraping off plates and wrapping leftovers, right at the dining table. This will allow the sink and dishwasher area to be specifically for washing. Keep special mind of your garbage disposal. A plumber’s busiest day is the day after the turkey bones, grease and errant spoons accidentally go into the disposal.