I love Thanksgiving—the food, the friends and family, the festivity…everything except the pre-meal scramble. There never seems to be enough time and definitely never enough counter/tabletops. Surprisingly, one of my biggest helpers to simplify the chaos is a cooler.
A cooler may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a Thanksgiving feast, but for me, it’s been a miracle. Instead of stressing about a lack of space, I can create an additional storage center that—best of all!—doesn’t even need to be kept in the kitchen.
Any size cooler will help, but I like to use a large model and Coleman is my favorite brand. Here are 4 ways to use it:
1. Turkey Holder
When there’s no room in the fridge for a huge bird, you have to get creative. In the past, I have filled my cooler with cold water and used it to defrost. Another neat idea is to use it for brining; Bon Appetit has great step-by-step instructions.
2. Makeshift Dishwasher
My kitchen has a single sink so there’s no way to separate dirty from clean. Once the regular dishwasher is full, I turn my cooler into a second mini one and stack dirties inside. I wouldn’t recommend it for delicate items like glassware but most plates and pots/pans should be fine.
3. Ice Bucket
Just like the turkey, cases of soda and wine bottles are shelf hogs. Fill a clean cooler with ice and store drinks easily. Most models have a drain, so clean up is a breeze.
4. Food Warmer
Turn a cooler into a warmer by lining it with foil, then stack casserole containers with sheet trays between the layers. If the lid is kept shut, cooked food can easily stay warm for an hour or two.
How do you simplify Thanksgiving prep?