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10 Tips to Manage Kitchen Chaos this Holiday Season

10 Tips to Manage Kitchen Chaos this Holiday SeasonEver wish you could clone yourself to get things done in the kitchen? It just never seems like there is enough time to get all that holiday cooking and cleaning done, not to mention the dreaded grocery shopping. The kitchen can very easily become a chaotic place during the holiday season. We do alot more cooking, and there is also alot more people coming in and out of our kitchens. I, like many of you, struggle during the holidays, to keep everything nice and tidy.

We all know there is no such thing as a perfect kitchen, but I have found a few ways to help control some of the chaos in my kitchen. Here’s a few tips to help you control the chaos this holiday season in your kitchen too.

1.  Before the holidays start, begin de-cluttering.  Re-evaluate if you really need all of your kitchen tools and small appliances. Any tool or small appliance that only serves one purpose can be a waste of space. A small appliance that I recently got rid of was a pizza oven. Even though it saved a little energy, it was a waste of valuable space. One of the tools that I just tossed was a garlic press. I had it for years, yet had seldom used it. Instead, I always reach for a micro-planer to turn a clove of garlic into a paste.

2. Toss things you haven’t used in a year. Apply the same rules for your kitchen that you also should be using in your clothes closet. If you haven’t used it in over a year, your probably not going to be using it anytime soon. One of the things I recently found in my kitchen was a soup warmer. Honestly, I can never remember actually using it, so I donated it to charity and hopefully someone else got some use out of it.

3. Get rid of multiples. Having a cluttered kitchen creates a perfect situation for lost items, leading to you buying a replacement. As you clean and declutter, go ahead and get rid of multiples. You only need one pizza cutter, one can opener and so on. Multiple tools create clutter and chaos.

4. Store like items in like places. I know this sounds like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve been in where the glasses are in the oddest cabinet, no where near the fridge, or even close to the dishwasher. Store pots and pans near the stove, dishes near the dishwasher, and glasses near the refrigerator. Save those awkward cabinet spaces for seasonal items that are just used once a year.

5. Don’t forget to clean and organize the pantry. Organize everything, check for expiration dates, and take inventory. Make a shopping list of obvious pantry holiday staples you’ll need. For instance, canned broth, canned pumpkin, vanilla extract, oil, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and chocolate. Don’t forget to put some fresh fall spices on your list too, so your holiday dishes taste their best.

6. After you have tackled the pantry, don’t forget the refrigerator. Clean it from top to bottom and check expiration dates on all items. Toss old stuff, and don’t forget to add to your grocery list the essential refrigerator staples for the holidays like seasonal fruits, butter, lard and milk. Don’t forget the freezer side of the fridge.  Check quantities on your nuts and add them to your list too if needed. You do keep nuts in your freezer right? It’s the best way to preserve their freshness. Just roast them before using in recipes and snacking.

7. Now for a question you don’t have to answer, did you find little black bugs in your pantry anywhere? You know those little rice bugs. They can hatch in any dry product you bring in your home. Once hatched in your pantry, they can invade any or all your other dry products. To prevent this from ever happening again, here is what you do. Any dry good you bring in your home that you’ll be storing in the pantry such as dry rice, beans, pasta, flour, or cornmeal, make sure to put them in the freezer first. Freezing them at least overnight, although I usually do 3 days or more just to make sure, kills all the little bug eggs, and will prevent those nasty little critters from ruining your pantry goods.

8. Clean the clutter from the counters. Every night, without fail, if I do nothing else, I completely clean my kitchen counters of mail, dishes, and other odds and ends. Then I do the dishes. Keep only your absolute essentials on the counter you use several times a week, like your coffee maker. Everything else can be stored out of site.

9. When the holiday does come, and your kitchen is decluttered and clean, we have to keep it that way. The most important tip I can give anyone is to clean as you go. The one exception is if your making garlic bread or toast under your broiler. I have put the bread under the broiler so many times, walked away to wash that one dish, and came back to burnt bread.

10. My last tip for controlling your kitchen chaos this holiday season is to try and do as much prep work for holiday meals before company arrives as possible. Most dishes can be made the day before, and then you just refrigerate until ready to bake or heat. For Thanksgiving, when everyone comes to our house, I prep every dish the day before, even the turkey. On Thanksgiving, all I have to do is take things in and out of the oven. This allows me to be part of the party, instead of stuck in a chaotic kitchen.

What are your tips to control kitchen chaos? I’d love to here them in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Bozena Cannizzaro/Photodisc/Getty Images

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