Invest in a great food processor and a great blender. High quality equipment are worth their weight in gold and will be there when you need them. I have a graveyard of old blenders with broken parts or burnt out motors.
I had a kitchen for YEARS without a hand blender. Now I just love mine. It came with attachments, one of which turns it into a mini food processor just right for small batches of chopped onion or Sweetie, Quickie, Healthy Candy. It is a great tool for pureeing soups as well.
A hand (non electronic) can opener is essential equipment as well. Invest in a good one here too.
If you find that you are hosting often or have company or kids who will help in the kitchen, have several vegetable peelers. You may spend hours of your life peeling vegetables, so be sure you have a comfortable handle. When people ask you, "how can I help?" you can hand them a peeler and a stack of veggies that need peeling.
I keep lists for organizing my world in my kitchen. I have a pad of paper with magnets for the fridge for adding things to my grocery list as they run out. I also have a notebook for writing down menus. I don't write every menu but for Shabbat (Sabbath) and holiday meals, I always write the menu. If you feel stuck for what to serve, you can always look at past menus. I can check each item off the list and make changes as I go. This serves several purposes:
- You can keep track of what you're doing and what else needs to be done
- People who may be helping can look at the list and know what to do next
- You remember what the heck you have in the fridge when it comes time to serving so you don't forget to serve the food you made!
- You can pace yourself and know if you're on track or going overboard
- You can review your list and make a grocery list to make sure you have ingredients
Another list I use in the kitchen is during Passover time. I keep a blank paper on the fridge when I'm packing up and write down what I need to shop for next year. Tape it to the outside of a box (well, honestly, I've had the list stay on the fridge a whole year, works for me).
Have a "to do" list of chores that need completing. If people are helping--kids, husband, hired help or even a guest, you know where to direct your helper.
More to come in this section. Have questions? Let me know, I will share all the tips and tricks I know and use for running a kitchen and home.