Hosting a holiday meal? Plan ahead to maximize your kitchen's potential!

by Lutes Custom Cabinetry on 2018-11-08 17:30:36

If you've ever hosted a holiday meal, chances are you've learned what a challenge it can be to make sure all the food is done at the right time, that the mess in the kitchen magically disappears before your guests arrive, and that you remain calm and in good spirits while managing it all. While all those preparations are bound to produce some minor hiccups, there are things you can do in the weeks and days before the event to make sure your kitchen runs as efficiently as possible that day.

Clean out and organize your refrigerator

Now is a great time to get your refrigerator organized to maximize space before those holiday meals. The easiest way to do this is to remove everything from the fridge and evaluate whether anything is expired, spoiled, or just needs tossed. While your fridge is empty, it's a good time to clean the shelves and drawers. Before you put your items back, take a look at your shelves and determine whether they'll need adjusted to make room for taller items in the days before your big meal. If so, now's the best time to make those accommodations. Once you put everything back, try to keep the main shelves as clear as possible, even if it means storing some things in drawers or in the door until after the holidays.

Make items ahead and freeze or refrigerate

If you have a small kitchen and a single oven, you've probably learned that it can be pretty stressful to try to cook everything in one day, especially when you have something such as a turkey monopolizing the oven for hours. Even if you have a large kitchen and a double oven, you'll still save yourself a lot of hassle the day of the meal if you make some of your dishes ahead and either freeze them (which may require cleaning out your freezer in addition to your refrigerator) or refrigerate them.

Here are some examples of items you can make ahead so the day of the big meal runs much smoother:

  • Pre-Baked Pumpkin pie can be frozen, then thawed in the refrigerator 10-12 hours before your meal. Check out this helpful article by Southern Living on how to do this.

  • Gravy can be prepared several days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. All you'll need to do before your meal is heat it on the stovetop, add turkey drippings, and wisk until smooth. There are also many recipes for complete make-ahead gravy so that you don't need to worry about the turkey drippings on the day of the meal, which works great if you're not serving turkey but still want gravy for those mashed potatoes or other sides.

  • If you prefer making your dinner rolls from scratch, the dough can be made ahead of time and frozen so that all you need to do is let the rolls rise for a few hours and bake them on the day of your meal. There are many websites where you can learn how to best do this.

  • Cranberry sauce can be made several days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Utilize slow cookers

Even if you're making some items ahead of time, utilizing a few slow cookers for warm items can help maximize your kitchen's potential. You'll be able to prepare some dishes hours before your guests arrive, giving you time to clean up the mess and clear your counters for other things. Plus, you won't be scrambling to make sure all your food gets done cooking at the same time. Side dishes such as mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, corn or corn casserole, and green bean casserole can all be made in a slow cooker. In fact, even turkey or ham can be cooked in the oven the day before and carved, then placed in a slow cooker to refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day.

Clear counter space

Items you use on a daily basis, such as coffee makers, canisters, or cooking utensils can be left on the counters, whereas items you use less often could be put away in the weeks or days before your meal. Knick knacks or piles of paper that end up on your counters should also be cleared ahead of time.

Round up serving spoons, hot pads, and oven mitts into one convenient location so you don’t have to dig for them after guests arrive. If guests will be bringing slow cookers of their own, assess whether you’ll have enough available outlets. If not, keep a power strip nearby that you can easily locate that day. Organize your cabinets and drawers, placing storage containers and their lids in a convenient, easy-to-reach location. Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and resealable storage bags should also be easily accessible, since you'll likely need them for all the leftovers.

Even with careful planning, making meals for a crowd can be so much easier in a well laid out and organized kitchen. Custom cabinets with built-in organization features can help things run even more efficiently because you'll be able to locate what you need quickly. If you're thinking about remodeling your kitchen with custom-built cabinets and features made just for you, give us a call!

Hosting a holiday meal? Plan ahead to maximize your kitchen

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