I was watching TV on my lunch hour the other day and I happened to catch Peter Walsh on Rachael Ray. So, I jotted down a few notes thinking you might enjoy some of the great tips he was sharing. Peter is awesome – I use his books as a reference for my organizing tips. Particularly his book “It’s All Too Much”.
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It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is almost here, but truth to tell, in just about short time, we’ll all be serving our Thanksgiving turkeys. Cleanup is an important and necessary part of the day. But, I don’t know about you, I’d much rather spend more time with my guests and less time on cleanup.
Peter’s first tip was FOIL. Personally, I thought this tip was a little bit obvious. Everyone knows that foil is a big help in lining your pans. It does make for an easy cleanup. He particularly emphasized making a foil liner for the bottom of your oven. I cook my turkey in a bag and most of the other dishes are stovetop items, so that tip wouldn’t help me. But I did find a link to these oven liners and burner liners that I thought are much easier to use and sturdier than plain foil.
Second tip was PARCHMENT PAPER to line your baking dishes for pies and cakes. I haven’t tried that particular trick, but I can see how it might help. I found some unbleached parchment paper that looked like it would be a good choice.
Third tip is a combination of a GARBAGE BOWL and a ROLLING CART set up to keep your sink area clear. All you do is set up a fairly deep pan full of hot soapy water (a nice large lasagna pan would do nicely). Then as you’re cooking and starting your post-dinner clean up, you can scrape the solids into the garbage bowl and then put the scraped plates and pans into the hot soapy water to soak until you’re ready to pop them into the dishwasher. This tip I would find really helpful, especially as it keeps your sink clear to be able to serve your dessert course without dodging a sink full of dirty dishes.
We do something similar with our Scouts, only we have the less glamorous-sounding “scum bucket” where they scrape their leftovers and a series of four small dishpans each with a scrub brush where the dishes get progressively cleaner until the final rinse. It’s not too fancy, but it gets the dishes as clean as a bunch of teenaged boys are likely to get them!
Peter’s next tip is to put your TABLECLOTH to work in catching the crumbs. All you need to do is to clear the table and then bundle up the tablecloth to put it on your rolling cart. Then you can shake it outside after your guests have left (and before you lapse into your own turkey coma!). Afterwards, you can deal with your stain removal – always the bane of my existence.
In fact, I am so terrible at getting out stains, I opt for a slightly less elegant, but stainproof tablecloth. I think it must be hereditary. I have several of my late mother’s tablecloths in my linen closet. Every last one of them has at least one decade-old gravy stain on them, so I keep them mostly for sentimental reasons.
A RECYCLING STATION is Peter’s next tip. You always go through lots of soda bottles or cans, as well as foil, plastic wrap, paper towels, etc. And guests usually will ask if you recycle. If you have a nice stack of labeled bins like this, people will automatically know where to put everything. That could save you quite a bit of time on your cleanup. Here’s a recycling bin configuration I liked. I like that it doesn’t have a large footprint, and it’s a neutral color. You could even put it in the garage, if you want it to be out of sight.
The last tip from Peter, our organizing genius is….. A LEFTOVER STATION! You could even put this on the lower shelf of your rolling cart. Set out a selection of inexpensive plastic storage containers (save up those Cool Whip bowls!). Or I found a set of 17 containers for $10 from Ikea. Now just add some large paper bags and a Sharpie. Voila! Then you have each guest label their bag o’ goodies to put it by the door.
(By the way, I’m pretty sure this tip will only work in a dog-free home. Or Rover is going to add a whole new dimension to the words “Doggy Bag”.)
So, there you go – a whole list of terrific time savers for your Thanksgiving clean-up – Gobble Gobble!