Real Simple Recipes Cooking Tips & Techniques Food Preparation Cooking Basics Checklist Cooking Basics Checklist Don’t know where to get started in the kitchen? Follow these easy steps and tips. By Liz Welch Advertisement Save FB Tweet ellipsis More Pinterest Mail Email iphone Send Text Message Print Image zoom RealSimple.com Kana Okada Checklist Work Smart Before starting, read the recipe all the way through. Then preheat the oven, if necessary. Make sure you have the ingredients and gear you need and get it all out. Before you start cooking, prep all the ingredients according to the recipe instructions. (This is called mise en place.) Work Safely Position the handles of pots and pans over the counter or the stove to prevent accidents. Place a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to prevent the board from slipping. Wash your hands and any boards and knives that have come into contact with raw meat immediately to prevent cross contamination. Work Clean Keep a kitchen towel close at hand for wiping dirty hands and handling hot pans. Wipe down cutting boards as you go: Once you chop the parsley, give it a swipe, then start on the garlic. Work near a trash can or keep a “trash bowl” in the prep area to dispose of trimmings and peels.