The best part of hosting Thanksgiving is serving up an impressive meal. The worst part is finding a way to store everything in the fridge and freezer beforehand. Between pies, casseroles, five pounds of baked potatoes, and, oh, that massive 15-pound dry-brined bird all over the bottom shelf, how do you find space, unless you rent a second fridge ? Raid your cardboard recycling stock and start stacking.
I first used this storage tactic to store semi-finished pies. Let’s say I had two or three pudding or curd pies that were already filled and waiting for the party time. Instead of laying them next to each other and wasting all the vertical space above them, I put a cardboard cake circle slightly larger than the circumference of the rim of the pie plate just above, and stack the next pie on top. Not only did it save space, but it also kept my fridge more organized. (If you’re not a cake decorating dweeb and don’t have cake circles, you can just use a plain piece of cardboard cut to be slightly larger than the pie plate.) The pies stayed safe and fresh, and I used all that extra space for other foods. When pie time came, I unstacked the pies, finished them off with a mound of whipped cream, and started eating. This hack is particularly suitable for pies made with custard like pumpkin and sweet potato which to have to be stored in the refrigerator.
This stacking trick can work for anything in a high-sided container. For bowls or large casserole dishes without a flat lid, cut one out of a piece of cardboard. Note that this will only work with vessels made of a solid material like ceramic, glass or stainless steel; if you’re stacking disposable aluminum containers, it’s best to put them on top as the material is quite weak and I wouldn’t trust it to hold much weight. As a general rule, keep heavy, solid items on the bottom and lighter, weaker items on the top. Any loose items wrapped in foil can also be stored on the top layer.
To create your own cardboard “shelf”, you can cover the stacking container with aluminum foil or whatever wrapper you like to use, although this is not necessary. Place a piece of cardboard to measure it. Estimate the length and width you need and mark them. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just let the cardboard hang slightly over the edges of the dish. Using scissors or a craft knife, cut the cardboard to the size you marked. Put the container in the refrigerator or freezer, then place the cardboard on top. Stack the next casserole, pie, or foil-wrapped buns, and enjoy having some wiggle room for once.
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