A Basic Kitchen Checklist

Use a basic kitchen checklist to make sure you have what you need to be successful and organized in the kitchen.

Whether you are just starting out on your own or you need to reorganize a kitchen that's out of control, it's easy to have what you need if you keep a basic kitchen checklist. Having a few essential appliances and utensils within easy reach, will help make both preparation and clean up less stressful. You might even look forward to staying in on Saturday night.

Before you run down to your nearest home supply store with credit card in hand, take a quick look around your kitchen and make an assessment. This will help you focus on items that you need on a daily basis. Those fun, but rarely used gadgets, can be acquired later. As you look around, answer these three questions:

How much space do you have? Do you need to supplement your storage space?

Look at counter tops, drawers and cupboards. For example, if you have limited counter space, you'll need to take that into consideration when looking at appliances and containers; if your shelves are shallow, storing an indoor grill could present a problem. Try to picture where everything will fit as you shop so that you aren't disappointed when you get home. Consider purchasing a wheeled cart or baker's rack if you absolutely need more storage space.

What supplies do you already have?

Maybe you have a few odds and ends or a good start due to a wedding shower. Write everything down and take the list with you so that you don't end up spending money on something you already have. Review what you've got, especially in the case of wedding gifts. If you've received something you can't imagine using but you are missing an important basic tool, consider an exchange. At this point, it's better to have the equipment you'll use regularly.

What type of cooking do you plan to do the most?

Deciding what type of cook you are, or intend to be, will help determine your must haves. Will you cook for two or six? Do you like to bake? Will you prepare a lot by hand or purchase many ingredients that are ready to cook?

Once you've determined what you have and how you'll likely spend your kitchen time, use this handy list to figure out what you'll need to buy. Adding to this list is okay but again, try to stick to items you'll use regularly. Consider borrowing things that you only use a few times a year, especially if space and budgets are limited.

SMALL APPLIANCES

Microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, hand mixer, can opener (unless you prefer the hand held type), food processor or manual chopper, slow cooker or crock pot

POTS, PANS & CASSEROLE DISHES

Choose the finish that you are most comfortable with. Nonstick is the easiest to clean. Pyrex or similar glass materials are very durable.



Skillets-one 10-12" and one smaller 6-8".

Covered sauté pan, small sauce pot, 2 quart pot, 4-5 quart pot

Casserole/Baking dishes. Recipes commonly call for 8x8, 9x13 and 2 quart sizes.

2 Cake pans, 1 pie dish, 1 loaf pan, 1 muffin pan

2 Cookie sheets, 2 jelly roll pans, pizza pan or stone

1 Broiling pan

Durable microwavable containers-get at least one small, medium and large.

GADGETS, UTENSILS & MISCELLANEOUS TOOLS

Consider mostly plastic utensils if you've purchased non-stick cookware but get a few metal utensils too especially for scraping stuck on foods out of glass casseroles.

At least 2 serving spoons, both slotted and non-slotted, spatulas, scrapers, pasta servers

A good knife set in its own block

Kitchen scissors if they do not come with the knife set

Juice Pitcher

Measuring cups both liquid and dry, measuring spoons

Ice Cream scoop, pie/cake server

Salad Tongs

Mixing bowls-buy a set so that they fit inside each other for easier storage. They can also be used to serve salads.

Oven mitts or pot holders.

IN THE PANTRY

Have these necessities on hand for sure and also add other family favorites:

Salt, pepper, garlic either chopped or powdered, oregano, chili powder, thyme, ketchup, mustard, vinegar

Cinnamon, vanilla, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder

STORAGE AND CLEAN UP

Keeping leftovers and cleaning up is a snap when these items are at your fingertips.

Storage and freezer bags in both quart and gallon size

Wax paper, tin foil, plastic wrap

Plastic storage containers, not necessarily microwaveable, various sizes

Canisters with tight fitting lids for cereal, coffee, flour, sugar, dried pasta

Dish/dishwasher detergent

All purpose cleanser for stove tops, counter and sink

Kitchen towels

Wash cloths either true cloth or disposable

Scouring pads suitable for nonstick

Oven cleaner

Broom, dust pan, mop and bucket

A check list of what you own also comes in handy when you take a dish to a social function. Keep it handy and you'll always know what should be returned to you.

Last but not least, no kitchen is complete without a few good recipes. Try to have at least one cookbook which explains both cooking and baking basics, as well as a few that feature your favorite cuisine. If you enjoy using the computer, make a file of family favorites too.

And here's one more benefit you won't want to miss out on-keep the checklist handy and read it the next time you're up late watching infomercials; it might just prevent you from ordering that hot dog cooking, rice steaming, apple pie baker you've always wanted!

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