Safe Cooking Temperatures

Prepping Your Kitchen for the Holidays

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This holiday season, prepare your kitchen ahead of time to keep things running smoothly and safely.

  • Clean it! Start off with a 'clean slate' by cleaning and sanitizing commonly used surfaces like countertops and cutting boards. These should all be cleaned both before and after use.Wipe refrigerator shelves, handles, and bins as well as door seals. Stock up on important cleaning supplies. Paper towels, sanitizing sprays, or wipes can be convenient to have on hand for cleaning during the holidays. Sponges need to be cleaned regularly.

  • Temp it! Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure cold foods are kept at 35-40 F. For safety and peak taste and texture, use a meat (probe) thermometer to ensure recommended cooking temperatures are reached.

  • Store it! Before you shop for holiday ingredients, organize the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to make sure you have space for safely storing all the groceries.
    • Keep in mind that raw frozen turkeys take up a large amount of space and can take several days to thaw, and that all raw meat should be placed below ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Leftoverscan be a prized bonus after a holiday meal. Prepare for leftovers by having enough containers and space in your refrigerator or freezer. If your guests will be taking leftovers home, remind them ahead of time to bring containers or have some available.

  • Serve it! Make sure you have serving platters, cutting boards, and utensils that can be used separately for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods like salads, or plan on washing well between uses. Cover dishes and wrap foods with plastic wrap or aluminum foil when storing in the refrigerator or transporting.

  • Enjoy it! Planning ahead for holiday meals and snacks saves time and helps keep everyone healthy.

Adapted from United States Department of Agriculture, USDA.gov

November 2015