Preparing any meal — and a Thanksgiving meal, especially — is tricky when space in your oven, stove, fridge, or counter is limited. (Who wants to maneuver a turkey and stuffing in a crowded oven?) One option is trimming your menu to avoid overcrowding your kitchen. However, this means removing beloved dishes that you and your guests look forward to every year. A better solution is learning how to maximize your kitchen space so you have room to whip up all of your favorites. If your kitchen is cluttered with everything and the kitchen sink, try these simple tricks to create the room you need to cook the big meal.
Coolers free up fridge shelves.
Is your fridge stuffed to the gills? Look to your beach cooler for some much-needed real estate, says organizer Ginny Underwood (VirginiasEasyLivingSolutions.wordpress.com). “Simply fill the cooler with ice and place veggies and beverages inside,” she suggests. “You’ll easily double your fridge space this way, and the cooler can even act as a fun ‘drink station’ for your guests.”
Also smart: Consider storing food like gravy, soup, rice, pasta, and salads in plastic storage bags rather than in Tupperware containers. They take up much less space than containers and when filled with soft foods and liquids, they can easily be squeezed into tight spots!
Stacking baking sheets frees up counters.
Take a cue from bakers when looking to make room for food prep, says home storage specialist Anthony Powers (StorageTransformed.com). “They use rolling sheet-pan racks — trays stacked one on top of the other — to help stash foods that need to rise or cool,” he explains. “And you don’t have to buy a rolling rack to reap the benefits: Just take a metal file folder and turn it on its side — now you can stack baking sheets, cutting boards, and flat pans all in one contained space until you’re ready to cook or serve the food.” Need more room? Simply place a cutting board across your sink to create “counter space.”
Also smart: Grab your ironing board: Remove the fabric cover, and the bare metal grate will work as a cooling rack for pies.
Using a slow cooker frees up the oven.
The best way to ensure the turkey and sides fit in the oven at the same time? Let your slow cooker or air fryer help out. “Slow cookers are great for cooking mashed potatoes, stuffing, and casseroles,” says Jed Silverlake of HomeforBeginners.com. “And the air fryer can tackle roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, squash, and rolls.”
Also smart: Opt for shallow rather than deep dishes in your oven, says lifestyle blogger Stefan Bucur (RhythmOfTheHome.com). Not only does this speed up cooking time, it also allows more racks in your oven. Aim for roasting pans that are one-inch deep or less for stuffing, potatoes, and casseroles.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.