When the holidays arrive, you’ll enjoy the company of family and friends and the delights of tasty food. Because many holiday traditions involve extensive cooking and food preparation, your kitchen may take a heavy hit. From flour flying to appetizers cooling, it takes an organized cook to contain the mess.
Although kitchen messes can be unpleasant, they can also be downright dangerous. The USA.gov website offers safety tips that can help prevent Thanksgiving fires. An oven or grease fire would definitely put a damper on the holiday festivities. You can avoid this dangerous mishap with attention to detail and by cleaning up as you go.
With 10 tips to keep a kitchen clean during Thanksgiving, your meal will be tasty and your clean-up a breeze.
Once the cooking really gets going, it can be overwhelming to your poor kitchen. The countertops and tables may quickly fill with food items as you prepare a variety of different dishes. It can help to go through your entire kitchen prior to the holiday and remove clutter and unnecessary items. Ditch the knickknacks for a couple of days to make room for the extra food preparation. It’s also important to start with a clean oven and stovetop to eliminate fire risk from food and grease.
2.Organize the Refrigerator
Your refrigerator will likely fill to capacity with the extra food for the holiday. Before the big day, empty your refrigerator to clean it. Toss old leftovers and expired food items. Reorganize the items you keep to make as much room as possible for extra food.
3.Clean as you Go
It’s inevitable that the messes will accumulate as you get going with preparation work. Stay on top of the messes by cleaning continually as you work. Keep a sink of warm, soapy water and wash dishes as you use them. Run the dishwasher as soon as it fills and then empty it right away to make room for more dishes. Wipe down countertops and clean up spills and messes immediately. By controlling the messy build-up, you’ll eliminate a lot of work at the end of the day.
4.Cook in Advance
Many dishes are suitable for preparing in advance and then freezing. Pies can be prepared and frozen well in advance. Even side dishes like cranberries, vegetables and appetizers can be finished a day or two before the big day. Make dinner rolls ahead and even gravy works well if you freeze and defrost it for the meal. Just don’t make stuffing or dressing ahead of time unless you bake it fully. The raw eggs in stuffing make it necessary to bake the stuffing immediately after making it. By cooking in advance, you eliminate messes on Thanksgiving Day.
5.Take Some Shortcuts
Shhh…not everything has to be homemade. Go ahead and take some shortcuts to streamline your cooking and help keep your kitchen cleaner. Buy prepared side dishes or desserts from a local gourmet restaurant or grocery store. Your guests will probably never know the difference and your kitchen will stay much cleaner.
6.Ask for Disposable Containers
If guests are bringing dishes to pass, ask them to bring dishes in attractive, disposable containers that will work well on the table. The beauty of these dishes is that they need no sudsing when the meal is finished. Simply scrape out the leftovers and toss the dishes in the trash. Anything that cuts down on the amount of dishes after Thanksgiving is a win for everyone.
As you use dishes and casserole containers, make sure you soak them to streamline the dishwashing process after the meal. The roaster pan that held the turkey can sit with sudsy bubbles in it while everyone eats. By the time you get around to scrubbing it after the meal, it should clean up easily. Any casserole dishes that come out of the oven should go right to the sink to soak while you’re busy with other details.
8.Use Double-Duty Containers
Many containers work well as both serving dishes and storage containers, minimizing the work to transfer food and eliminating some dishes for you to wash. Choose dishes that will look great on the table, yet fit easily into the refrigerator for storing leftovers after the meal. Many dishes also work for use in the oven and the freezer as well. By streamlining the dishes you use, you ease your workload.
9.Make it a Family Affair
Everyone in the family enjoys the family traditions of Thanksgiving, so involve everyone in the preparations. Preparing the meal doesn’t have to be an unpleasant drudgery. Make it a pleasant family affair with everyone bonding and enjoying each other’s company. Play seasonal music, laugh together and tell stories about traditions. Many hands make light work, so the saying goes. With more people helping in the kitchen to prepare the feast and then clean up after it, you’ll all find yourself relaxing much sooner. If your kitchen is small, consider devising work teams – one to prepare the feast and another to clean up after it.
Putting on a Thanksgiving spread is no small feat. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, cooking and then cleaning up after the meal. Although you probably want your kitchen put back to rights again after the meal, it’s also important to pace yourself and not do more than you can. The dishes will wait until Black Friday – they’ll still be there. Go ahead and soak them, but then don’t worry if you don’t get them washed and put away until a day or two later.
Thanksgiving takes work, but the results of your effort will be a memorable and festive holiday for everyone. You’ll be continuing family traditions or creating new ones – this is what makes holiday memories special. A little organization will help make the day even more enjoyable because you won’t feel like a slave in your kitchen.