The Party’s Over: Getting Your Kitchen Back in Order

'Dinner table' photo (c) 2006, MoToMo - license: was the last day of a round of holidays. I cooked so many meals, that I bought 20 onions on Thursday and had none left by Monday. If you’re just starting to think about upcoming holidays, you can read Preparing for a Holiday Cooking Session.

Here’s my strategy for recovering from the holidays.

  1. Get out of the kitchen. The kitchen has been my second home over the last several weeks. Despite all of the laundry and cleaning, I took my kids to a park in a nearby town for a few hours of fun.
  2. Take notes for next year. What recipes worked? What didn’t? Did you buy enough or too much? What did you forget to buy? We didn’t buy enough chicken, and had to go to several stores at the last minute until we found some.
  3. Salvage leftovers (1).  My husband pulled out all the fruit from the refrigerator and commented on how much was going soft. What could I do, other than cut it up and cook it in the microwave? We had pears, nectarines and plums.
  4. Salvage leftovers (2). During the holidays I stored bits of leftovers in the freezer. This morning I moved them to the refrigerator to serve for tonight’s dinner. Among the selection: Chicken with Black Olives and Tomatoes, Bulgur,Cholent (Sabbath stew),Chicken with Vegetables, Seven-Vegetable Couscous, and Mango Salsa.
  5. Clear out the refrigerator. Some leftovers could not be salvaged, unfortunately.
  6. Make a menu for the next few days or weeks. We ran out of meat and fish and have enough fresh vegetables for one more salad. But sometimes there is fresh or frozen food that needs to be used up quickly. Don’t forget to cook staples to have on hand like marinara sauce and beans for putting quick meals together.
  7. Make a shopping list. Now that you have a menu you can go grocery shopping. The holidays can also deplete your supply of staples and non-food items like detergent or toilet paper.
  8. Clean your kitchen. This is one of my least favorite activity, but my stovetop, refrigerator and counters look the worst they have in months.
  9. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.My guests ranged from children of an old friend, my children’s friends, old friends, new friends, to a relative I had only met once or twice but who had known my parents well. It was all worth it.

Do you find it easy to get back into a cooking routine after the holidays?

You may also enjoy:

13 Smart Ways to Store Leftovers



  1. Great piece–lots of good advice. I was good about using leftovers this chag–but helped by a few invitations out. I am definitely out of staples. My most proud accomplishment was making little salmon sliders (Trader Joes sells small, parve hamburger buns) out of leftover fresh salmon from another meal. I also made a bread pudding out of the leftover Rosh Hashana challah. It made a great breakfast eaten cold.

  2. I’m just pulling myself together, too. Our holidays were coupled with illness that just went round and round, striking one victim after another. It’s SO good to be back to normal.

  3. Do you, or does anyone, have any ideas for what to do with leftover citrus fruit? Soft fruit and apples and pears can be made into cakes/crumbles etc, and bananas can always go in the freezer for cakes and icecream. Softening vegetables end up in soup, but I’m always stuck with slightly “past their best” oranges, grapefruit and tangerines – suggestions please….

  4. After a big holiday dinner, I always take notes for next year. It saves me so much time and money the next go round! Thanks for all of these tips.

    For the citrus fruit getting soft, you can slice them to make dried slices for potpouri or a wreath. You can use clementines as candles. Just insert a wick in a half. Or slice off the top third and make the bottom 2/3 the candle. Citrus peels are great to clean a garbage disposal–just grind them up with water. Citrus halves could also be fed to the birds.