Whether you’re cooking for 2 or 200, Thanksgiving dinner is always hectic, stressful, and busy. But a little kitchen prep beforehand will get you ready and organized to create a seamless holiday celebration.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, it’s time to start chowing down on everything you have stored in your freezer. Eat those TV dinners you keep forgetting about, so you’ll have room in the freezer for holiday perishables. We always recommend making your vegetables and gravy before Thanksgiving day to cut down on your day-of prep. Freezing is a great way to keep your Thanksgiving goods fresh no matter how many days in advance you do the cooking.
You should also start eating or throwing out the food you have in your fridge. Deep clean your fridge to remove any spills or leftover gunk. When you overstuff your fridge with food and spilled particles, your fridge has to work overtime to cool your food. This makes it more likely to expend high amounts of energy and break. Cleaning out your fridge can remove any food particles that contribute to the stink and malfunction of your fridge that is so common during the holidays.
In a similar vein, you want to make sure your oven has no spills or baked on gunk. Extra food in your oven can influence the cooking time and taste of your Thanksgiving food. These spills are also more likely to burn, ruining the food and masking the pleasant aroma of your Thanksgiving kitchen.
Clean your oven using the self-cleaning setting. You can also scrub the oven yourself with a paste of baking soda and water. Scrub with a scouring pad. You’ll also want to remove the grates and soak in a solution of dishwasher soap and hot water.
Now is also a good time to check the temperature of your oven. Even one-degree difference could burn or dry out your turkey. You can have a professional technician calibrate the oven for you. If you don’t have time for recalibration before Thanksgiving, you can use a portable digital thermostat to check the difference between the display temp and real temp. Keep the degree difference in mind when using your oven for Thanksgiving.
You’ll want a clear stovetop to avoid any mishaps while cooking. If you have an electric stovetop, it’s common for food to get burned on, making it impossible to scrub off. Start with warm, soapy water and a sponge to clean your glass electric top. If that doesn’t work, use a natural glass cleaner and a soft cloth to scrub in a circular motion. On areas with burnt on grease, you may need to gently scrape up the stain with a scraper or serving spatula.
If you have a gas cooktop, you’ll want to remove the grates and soak them in warm, soapy water. If they’re still dirty, scrub with a paste made of baking soda and water. Clear the burners from any food obstructions and clean around the burners before putting the grates back on.
You’ll also want to ensure that your exhaust fan is working for proper ventilation this holiday season. You don’t want a buildup of smoke or heat in your kitchen while hosting Thanksgiving dinner. You should change the exhaust fan filter and ensure all motors are functioning. If not, you can order replacement parts from the manufacturer.
Wipe down the inside of your microwave with an eco-friendly cleaner or a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Don’t forget to clean the rotating plate top and bottom. Reapply the plate to the track correctly, so it will rotate smoothly and not clank around.
Sinks and garbage disposals tend to be the largest cause of stink in the kitchen. Wipe down your sink with a sanitizing spray or solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. You can also pour half a cup of white vinegar down the drain to neutralize smells, clear gunk, and decalcify pipes. Put lime or lemon rinds in the garbage disposal to help sanitize and release a citrusy scent into your kitchen.
Make sure you own all the tools you’ll need for the day. This might include:
Clean your bakeware thoroughly so it’s ready to get down to work on Thanksgiving day. We also recommend cleaning out your slow cooker for an easy, delicious way to make some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Don’t forget the coffee machine in case your guests want a post-turkey pick-me-up.
Start with a fresh, clean slate. Remove all items from your countertops that you won’t need on the day of Thanksgiving. This will allow you to start with an open space and have more available room for cooking prep as you work. Scrub down the countertops with a natural cleaner for a sparkling kitchen that will wow your guests.
After you’ve cleaned and prepped the kitchen for Thanksgiving, pull out all of the serving platters, dishes, and gravy boats you’ll want to use on Thanksgiving day. Wash and dry by hand, and lay them out on the table. You’ll have all your plates ready for you, cleaned and free of dust, right when you need it. No rushing around the day of looking for that serving platter your mother-in-law gave you as a wedding present. You can even label each platter with the food you plan on filling it with, so you don’t forget to put out any food. (There’s always one thing you forget to put out, right?)
You may find it challenging to keep all of your platters clean on the day of Thanksgiving as you’re trying to balance cooking, baking, cleaning, and hosting. Keep yourself sane by soaking dishes right when you finish using them. Put a drop of dish soap in the bottom of the dish and fill with warm water. While you’re cooking or talking, the dish will be soaking to remove any caked on food. This will make it easier to wash when you have a few free minutes to clear the plates out of the sink.
Don’t stress out this holiday season. Prepping and cleaning your kitchen early will help you be ready and (slightly) carefree on Thanksgiving.
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