How to Prepare Your Kitchen for the Holidays

The holidays mean warm dinners with your loved ones -- and that means extra time in the kitchen. Organize your cooking space in a way that lets you spend less time searching for the allspice and more time with your friends and family.

Organize your kitchen like a library

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Nothing is worse than digging through your pantry while your food is burning on the stove. Avoid unnecessary kitchen drama by organizing your kitchen in a way that makes finding ingredients simple. Alphabetize your pantry items and pair your refrigerator foods by each meal so you know exactly what to grab next when the onions are frying. Don't forget to check for old or expired food and throw it away so you have plenty of room for the new foods coming in.

Buy veggies a week in advance

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Many holiday veggies come from plant roots, such as carrots, celery, potatoes and yams. These veggies will keep for at least a week, so get your produce ahead of time to avoid last-minute shopping trips when you should be picking your in-laws up from the airport.

Do some minor cleaning on your appliances

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You might be tempted to give your kitchen a huge overhaul before the holidays, but you'll save yourself a lot of time and stress – and potentially a lot of money – by doing the bare minimum before cooking for your guests. The reason is simple: you don't want to put your appliances on overtime during this crucial period. Save the self-cleaning cycle for your oven when you know you'll be eating leftovers for the next few weeks. Microwave a cup of water to loosen any caked-on foods before scrubbing with a gentle sponge, throw a couple of ice cubes and lemon peels in your garbage disposal to clean off the blades and wipe down your refrigerator with vinegar to remove any spills and odors.

Plan your pots and pans strategy

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If there's nothing worse than frantically searching for spices while cooking, then the next worst situation is not being able to find the right lid. Instead of stacking your smaller pots inside your larger ones, find a cheap bakeware organizer or create a DIY one in your cabinet by using thin tension rods. Keep your lids sorted by installing a small shower rod on the inside of your cabinet door and sliding your lids in so the handle rests on the rod. To keep your kitchen helpers organized in an unfamiliar kitchen, use sticky notes on your cookware to indicate which pot and lid should be used for each dish.

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