Between celebrating with friends and family and enjoying a special meal, Thanksgiving can test your multitasking skills. Being prepared will help you breeze through the cooking process. Try these tips to maintain a clean workspace, keep pets and kids safe, and avoid foodborne illnesses.
1. Clear the Clutter
Stow any unneeded items, such as the toaster, to make extra counter space for Thanksgiving food prep. Tidy the fridge so you have ample space to chill leftovers during the two-hour safety window.
2. Stock Extra Pot Holders and Towels
If you have plenty of pot holders ready, you won’t have to scramble to find one as you helplessly watch your Thanksgiving rolls go from golden perfection to charred beyond recognition. A good supply of kitchen towels and paper towels means you can reach for a fresh one as needed and reduce the risk of cross-contamination as you multitask.
3. Buy Food Thermometers
Take the guesswork out of food prep by using thermometers to gauge doneness. Color is not the best indicator, especially since smoked turkeys remain pink. According to the FDA, a whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165Ã?Â°F throughout the bird.
4. Spend Time with Pets in the Morning
Give pets plenty of playtime or a long walk to tire them out so they are less likely to need your attention during the Thanksgiving hubbub.
5. Empty the Dishwasher
Start with an empty dishwasher and load it as you go. This will help keep the countertops and sink free for food prep.
6. Use Separate Utensils and Cutting Boards
Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and knives for bread, fruit, meat and poultry. If you need extra cutting boards, you can buy an inexpensive set of color-coded cutting boards. Dishwasher-safe boards reduce your hands-on cleaning time since you will not have to manually sanitize them.
7. Use Kitchen Timers
Multitasking makes it more difficult to rely on your internal clock to remember when to check food and the microwave timer can be unreliable if guests are using it to heat foods. Use a portable timer to help you track cooking times. Clip-on models are convenient if you are moving in and out of the kitchen.
8. Keep Pets Out of the Kitchen
The aroma of food and commotion in the kitchen are enough to lure curious onlookers right into the action. They may need to be crated or sequestered behind closed doors to protect them from a variety of Thanksgiving hazards, including overzealous treat-givers.
9. Visit with Younger Guests Outside of the Kitchen
Multitasking in the kitchen is a good thing; unless you are playing Pass the Baby amid a backdrop of hot appliances and sharp utensils. Don’t try to hold a child while you prepare food. Keep the new baby and other young guests at least three feet from cooking surfaces and hot foods.
10. Chill To-Go Plates
If you send guests home with Thanksgiving leftovers, be sure to add a cold pack. Add enough zip-top bags of ice to keep food cold throughout the ride home.