Prepping for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving poses a serious challenge to your kitchen. Even the most organized fridge can turn into a wobbly tower of groceries and leftovers. Still, there are a few things you can do to prepare your space (and yourself) for the holiday buffet. We at Ditch the Clutter have developed an acronym to keep a late night snack from turning into a gravy-soaked disaster. In honor of this indulgent season, just remember: VICE.

To increase storage capacity, put packaged goods into smaller containers. Cutting off the empty portion from an egg carton and pouring the last bit of milk into a jar creates shelf space. The general understanding is to pack the freezer while allowing the fridge to circulate. As leftovers dwindle, condense, label, and prioritize them. Not only will this free up your casserole dishes, but all that stacking is like real life Tetris!

By making a thorough grocery list you’ll avoid buying duplicates or, worse yet, falling under the spell of bulky sales specials. Nobody needs 5 bags of mini marshmallows, no matter how sweet they like their yams. Substitutions are another way to pare down your list. Still have that cream of tartar from last year? Consider switching to an alternative recipe.

Ah, leftovers. Whether you keep them or send them home with guests, it’s always better to take them out of their serving dishes. Having various types and sizes of containers spreads the wealth more evenly. Restaurant suppliers sell individual takeout containers, perfect for packaging a week’s worth of stackable meals. Bonus: With only three sections to a tray you can politely decline your aunt’s famous Jell-O salad.

Take advantage of the cold weather! The average temperature for November in New England is a chilly 38 degrees, outside the “danger zone” for food safety. A screened-in porch, garage, or apartment rooftop becomes a second fridge. Anything that the supermarket doesn’t refrigerate can be considered non-perishable, from stuffing mix to French’s fried onions. Finally, the counter is fine for produce and pies...if there’s any left that is.

VICE is our acronym that gets us through Thanksgiving. What's yours?