Hosting a big meal is always a little stressful, but never more so than when you’re making Thanksgiving dinner. Besides choosing the perfect side dish, you want your turkey to come out flavorful and moist. But in order to accomplish all that, you’ve got to get your kitchen in order. Solve these seven cooking mistakes before you start your holiday cooking, so you can focus on what’s really important — enjoying all that food with your loved ones.
1. Your cutting board is too small
You do tons of prep work for Thanksgiving dinner, but most of us seem to suffer from the same affliction — our cutting boards are way too small. Now is the time to upgrade. Opt for a large plastic cutting board that you can put in the dishwasher, where it can be sanitized (so you can use it with meat). Plastic is also the best option for keeping your knives sharp. Grab two, so that if you have anyone helping in the kitchen, they can have one of their own.
2. Your knife is dull
A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife, and when you’re cutting tough ingredients like potatoes, squash, and cabbage, you want yours to be like a razor. Take it to get sharpened (many retailers that sell kitchen knives will do this for a small fee).
3. The sink stinks
Nothing’s worse than a kitchen sink that’s making the whole room smell or, worse, attracting flies. Clean out yours by first clearing the drain.
If you don’t have a garbage disposal, first pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow with a cup of white vinegar, putting a stopper or wet rag over the drain. Let the baking soda/vinegar sit for 10 minutes. Then pour a kettle of boiling water down there. Use Soft Scrub or the cleaner of your choice to clean the body of the sink.
If you have a garbage disposal, scrub the area around the drain, making sure to get under the flaps that are inside of the drain hole. Add a halved lemon, two cups of ice, and a cup of kosher salt to the drain. Run the cold water and turn on the disposal, letting it run until everything is gone. Finish off by pouring a kettle of boiling water down the drain.
4. The fridge is too full
Thanksgiving is usually when we stretch our fridges to full capacity. Not only do you have to store all of your ingredients and beverages before the big day, but once your meal is over, you also need room for leftovers.
Start by going through and throwing out anything that’s expired. Then, think about your condiments — are there any that you know in your heart of hearts you won’t be eating? Toss those too.
A month or so before Thanksgiving, impose a ban on any impulse condiment buying, to ensure your shelves stay free. The week before Thanksgiving, give your fridge a full cleaning, shelves, drawers, and all.
5. Your spice rack is in shambles
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to dig through your spice rack, drawer, or shelf several times for one recipe, shuffling jars and bottles around until you finally, finally find the right one.
Before the holiday cooking season begins in earnest, decide how to refine your space. If you simply need more space, consider purchasing a counter top or wall mount spice rack and move everything there. Or, if space isn’t your problem, re-organize — choose a system that works for you, whether that means you alphabetize or organize by frequency of use.
6. Tupperware lids are everywhere
If you can’t remember the last time you went to put leftovers away and didn’t have to struggle to match a plastic container with its lid, it’s time to organize. Go through your collection and make sure every lid you have matches a container. If any of them are “orphans,” get rid of them.
Then, decide how you want to organize them. Sometimes it’s easier to store the lids and containers in two different places. The lids usually fit well file-style (vertically) in a box that you can slip onto a shelf, instead of letting them loose with the containers themselves.
7. You get tired when standing for too long
If being on your feet for hours at a time causes you physical pain, then you’re probably not looking forward to cooking your Thanksgiving meal. But there’s a tool that can make standing and prepping much less stressful on sore feet and knees — an anti-fatigue mat.
You can cover the mat with a throw rug if you want to jazz it up, but generally speaking, standing on the cushioned mat while you cook and chop will greatly reduce the pressure on your lower half.
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(Photo via Gabriel Garcia Marengo/Unsplash)