TikTok Taught Me: Your Cooler Is Your Best Hack for Thanksgiving Day

For cold AND hot purposes.

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Photo: Getty Images/Allrecipes

When it comes to the biggest cooking holiday of the year, every bit of kitchen space is essential, fridge and oven space included. Yet every year, despite our best efforts, that space gets overcrowded with pumpkin pies, green bean casseroles, and bottles of wine. Good news: This year, thanks to our favorite TikTok grandmother, Barbara "Babs" Costello, we learned a hack that just might save Thanksgiving.

According to Babs, the key to a stress-free holiday is prep, and in a recent video on her TikTok channel, she shared a number of holiday cooking hacks just in time for the big day. Among all the advice, ranging from how to wash potatoes in the dishwasher and warm mashed potatoes in a slow cooker, one tip stood out to us: how to hack your hard-sided cooler.

If you have a cooler, you can put it to use to help maximize kitchen space and eliminate Thanksgiving headaches. Whether you've run out of fridge space to hold all of your ingredients, or you're looking for a way to keep all your cooked dishes warm, your cooler is here to help. Here's how.

How To Turn Your Cooler Into a Mini Fridge

Before heading to the store for your holiday grocery haul, pre-chill your cooler for several hours to make it as chilly and long-lasting as possible. Then, when you're ready to unload your groceries into the fridge, you can move all of your non-essential Thanksgiving items (think the ketchup, O.J., etc.) into the chilled cooler to live until the holiday is over.

Just like that, you have a second fridge that you can store almost anywhere (most importantly—out of sight!). Decluttering your fridge the day before will not only give you space to store food and drinks, but also some mental breathing room before the chaos of the holiday ensues.

How To Turn Your Cooler Into a Hot Box

As crazy as it sounds, your 'cooler' can actually turn into a 'warmer.' Just pour a large pot of hot water into the cooler, close the lid, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain the water using the spout on the side of the cooler, then line the bottom with foil.

Rather than setting your oven at a low temperature to keep your hot foods nice and toasty, you can move those dishes to the "hot box" and put your oven back to work. The insulated cooler will trap the heat inside, keeping it the perfect warm-not-hot temperature to store rolls, mashed potatoes, and pies until you're ready to serve.

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