Ready your kitchen for a new season of cooking, baking, and entertaining.

Make the transition from summer to fall easier by prepping your kitchen for the change in seasons. By planning ahead and putting in just a few hours of effort now, you can help reduce your cooking and entertaining stress for the rest of the year (yep, you read that right!) — allowing you more time to focus on the good stuff, like feeding your loved ones and spending time with your family and friends.

So if you’re ready to say goodbye to summer and get ahead of the changing of the seasons, here are five easy steps that will help you get your kitchen ready for fall in snap:

Cutting Board Beets

1. Sharpen your knives and replace your cutting boards

From chopping up root veggies to carving your Thanksgiving turkey, there are countless times you’ll be relying on your kitchen knife set this fall. To make each and every one of your meal prep jobs easier, get your kitchen ready for fall’s festivities by taking just 30 minutes to sharpen each knife in your set.

While you’re at it, give your existing cutting boards a good scrub. Or, better yet, replace any that are permanently stained or overly worn with flexible cutting boards, since they make scooting cut veggies off of your board and into your frying pan — or transferring scraps into your compost bucket — far less messy.

2. Reacquaint yourself with your slow cooker

Now that fall is in the air and your schedule is getting busier day-by-day, the last thing you want to do when you come home from work as the sun is already setting is worry about what to make for dinner. That’s why reacquainting yourself with your slow cooker and finding a handful of go-to slow-cooker recipes is one of the best ways to plan ahead and get your kitchen — and yourself — ready for fall.

From cozy soups and stews to easy slow-cooker chicken recipes that will feed your entire family, there’s just something about this season that’ll make you fall in love with this low-stress countertop appliance all over again. If you find yourself using it at least two nights a week, consider carving out an unobtrusive spot on your kitchen’s counters — like tucked into a corner underneath your cabinets — for it to live all season long.

3. Free up some freezer space

It’s a good idea to sift through your freezer at least once a year and toss out expired, improperly stored, or freezer-burned foods. But more than that, you can get your freezer ready for fall by completely clearing out one or two shelves. While this might sound like an impossible task, especially if you have a large family, trust us, you’ll thank yourself later.

As soon as holiday prep begins, you’ll be in dire need of some extra freezer storage space. Whether you’re making a few dishes ahead of time to cut down on last-minute entertaining stress or find yourself with a mountain of leftovers after your family get-togethers, knowing you won’t have to play Tetris just to just fit a few extra containers in your fridge will take a little extra weight off your shoulders this season.

Cleaning Out Pantry

4. Restock and reorganize your pantry

Throw out all of your expired goods, and take inventory of what’s left, making a note of any baking essentials (like all-purpose flour, baking powder, or vanilla extract) or dinner prep must-haves (like chicken broth, tomato paste, or rice) you’re short on. This will help you avoid making any last-minute trips to the grocery.

While you’re at it, wipe down the shelves of your pantry, and take a close look at your dry goods storage organization. If it’s ineffective or disorganized, the start of fall is the perfect time to get things in order. Consider buying a set of air-tight containers (this no-fuss set of OXO Good Grips POP Containers fits one-pound bags of sugar and flour perfectly), and keeping dedicated liquid measuring cups inside each to make scooping out just the right portions for each of your fall recipes easier and mess-free.

5. Invest in new sponges, oven mitts and dishtowels

No matter how well you clean them, sponges, fabric oven mitts, and dishtowels get grimy and stained with repeated use, which is why it’s best to replace these items regularly. You can get away with replacing your fabric mitts, potholders, and dishtowels once or twice a year, but for sponges, it’s recommended you replace them every two to three weeks, in addition to sanitizing them frequently.

For dishtowels and the like, shop on Amazon or go to Home Goods to find the best deals and consider buying seasonal styles that will help bring fall vibes to your kitchen. For sponges, buy them in bulk so you’ll have enough to last you all season long.

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