Your Overflowing Thanksgiving Fridge Needs Cardboard Shelves

The best part of celebrating Thanksgiving is the impressive food. The worst thing is to find a way to store everything in advance in the refrigerator and freezer. Between pies, casseroles, five pounds of boiled potatoes, and, oh, that massive 15-pound dry bird all over the bottom shelf, how do you find room other than renting a second fridge? Search your cardboard recycling stash and start stacking.

I first used this storage tactic to store semi-finished pies. Let’s say I had two or three pudding or cottage cheese pies that were already filled and were waiting for party time. Instead of placing them next to each other and wasting all the vertical space above them, I placed a cardboard cake circle a little larger than the circumference of the edge of the pie plate directly on top of it, and placed the next cake on top. Not only did this save space, but it also made my fridge more organized. (If you’re not a fan of decorating cakes and don’t have cake circles, you can just use a regular piece of cardboard cut out to be slightly larger than a cake plate.) The cakes came out whole and cool, and I used all of that extra space for other food. When it was time for the pie, I laid out the pies, topped them with a pile of whipped cream, and began to eat. This hack is especially good for custard-based pies like pumpkin and sweet potatoes that need to be refrigerated .

This stacking trick can work for just about anything in a vessel with high sides. For bowls or large pots without a flat lid, cut one out of a piece of cardboard. Note that this will only work with containers made of durable material such as ceramic, glass, or stainless steel; if you’re stacking disposable containers made of aluminum, it’s best to put them on top as the material is quite weak and I wouldn’t trust it to hold a lot of weight. As a general rule, keep heavy and strong items at the bottom and light and weak items at 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 vessel to be placed with foil or whatever film you prefer, although this is not necessary. Place a piece of cardboard to measure it. Estimate the required length and width and mark them. You don’t have to be perfect, just let the cardboard extend a little beyond the edges of the dish. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut the cardboard to the marked size. Place the container in the refrigerator or freezer, and then place cardboard on top. Place the next casserole, pie or rolls wrapped in foil and enjoy the fact that this time you have some wiggle room.


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