The end of the year approaches, and for many of us, this means the holiday season. This is the time of year when we prepare enormous amounts of food and eat until we enter the annual food coma. It’s a lot of work to prepare such a meal, especially if you have a large family. But there are steps you can take to prepare your kitchen for the holiday craziness beforehand, saving you time and effort down the road.
Clean Your Oven—And Good!
If you have a self-cleaning oven, make sure you run it through a cycle before you start cooking your holiday meal. It’s generally best if you turn on the cleaning cycle late at night and let it run while you’re sleeping. A self-cleaning oven generates a lot of heat, too, so be prepared for that. And don’t forget, once the cycle is done and the oven is cool, it will need to be wiped out to remove all the ash left from the cleaning process.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a self-cleaning oven, you’ll have to do it by hand with patience and elbow grease. There are cleaning sprays, both hot and cold, available to help you remove grease and burned on food.
Don’t forget to wipe down the door and window, if any, so you can keep an eye on food as it cooks.
Make Sure Your Knives are Sharp!
Your knives will be in frequent use during holiday cooking, so you should make sure they’re all clean and razor-sharp. You’re more likely to use a knife for chopping (onions, peppers, etc.) and carving (for your turkey or ham), so if these need to be replaced, it’s best to do it beforehand. Check out http://www.cutitfine.com/carving-slicer-knife-reviews/ for some excellent information about carving knives.
A sharp knife will make carving hard foods like vegetables much easier, and when cutting a turkey or ham, a sharp carving knife will make smooth, even cuts.
Inventory Your Kitchen Utensils
This is an excellent time of year to take an inventory of all your kitchen utensils and replace what might be worn out. If you’re cooking turkey for the holiday, you’ll want to make sure you have a good turkey baster. Verify that your can opener works properly, locate your measuring spoons and cups, and gather together all the things you frequently use. Having all these utensils together in one place will save you time as you bustle around the kitchen.
Get Prepped for the Leftovers
One of the best parts about holiday cooking is the leftovers, and there are usually a LOT! So, make sure you have lots of small containers, zipper bags, and/or plastic wrap so you can stow the leftover food in your fridge or freezer without taking up a lot of space. You can even use butcher’s tape to label each container if you want. You can also buy cheap plastic containers to send leftovers home with your guests, and they’ll have reusable containers to use at home.
Check Your Spice Rack
Verify that you have all the spices and seasonings that you like to use over the holidays. Many times, these spices will become harder to find the closer we get to the holiday season. So, it’s best to stock up on them earlier in the year. Check that the spices haven’t gotten too hard or clumped to use. This includes stocking up on extra staples like sugar and flour.
Clean Out That Refrigerator!
This is an excellent time to do a full cleaning of your refrigerator and freezer, including a defrosting, if necessary. You’ll be filling your fridge with all the leftovers, so you’ll want plenty of space to put them. It’s also a good idea to dump the ice in your ice maker, if you have one, and let it build up fresh ice.
Sanitize Your Stinky Sink Drain
You probably don’t think about your sink drain unless it clogs up. But here’s a quick and easy way to clean and deodorize your drain. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by ½ to ¾ cup white vinegar. Use a sink stopper to keep the foam in the drain and pipe for up to an hour. Pour a kettle full of boiling water down each side to rinse it, and you’re done!
Gather Your Recipes
If you cook from recipes rather than memory, grab all the ones you use during the holidays into one place. Replace or rewrite any recipes that are too difficult to read. Go over each recipe and make a shopping list for things you don’t have on hand. This helps to avoid forgetting an important ingredient and having to run out last-minute to find it.
Getting your kitchen ready for the bustle of the holiday season doesn’t have to be a huge chore. A few simple steps taken in the weeks leading up to the holiday will help save you time when it comes down to the business of cooking for your family.