Let’s all think back to the time we pulled some ingredients to make this awesome dish, started the recipe, then realized that you had to let dough rise/needed eggs/didn’t own a 9×13″ pan/other pain in the ass kitchen problem that cause you to have to abandon the project and either go to the store or throw out what you had already begun.

Let’s start with the title or name of the dish, which is probably what caught your eye in the first place. Let’s say you saw it on your Google Reader, and starred it to come back to later. or maybe you printed it. Take your eyeballs down the ingredients list. Don’t like mushrooms/meat/olives/insanely hot Indian chiles? Don’t know where to get nori? This recipe may not be for you, but keep reading if there’s a way to substitute or tone down or even remove some ingredients. Obviously you can’t take the beef out of beef stroganoff, but you can definitely use less chiles in an intriguing Indian dish. I like to assume people that read here have a smidge of common sense.

Onward ho, to the directions. Read them all. Note any gadgets or contraptions it calls for: blenders, springform pans, cast iron bread pans shaped like little ears of corn.

Missing anything essential? If so, see what you can substitute in. Immersion blender for a regular blender, perhaps. If not, set the recipe aside for later until you can borrow steal or buy what you need. If you’ve found a suitable stand-in, great.Keep on reading.

Let’s check the timing of the recipe steps. Does anything need thawing, preheating, rising time? Build that into your plan. Don’t preheat the oven when you’ve got to let the dough rise twice. Conversely, if you have to simmer a tomato sauce for an hour, no need to be boiling the water for the pasta right now either.

Now there may be some weird words in the recipe. The first time I made a custard based ice cream it told me to “temper the eggs,” only I had no idea what that meant. Enter the age of the Internet where answers to all questions are mere clicks away. If you can read, and you can Google, you can cook. Go ahead, put that on aprons, t-shirts, and fridge magnets the world round. Just don’t forget to quote me on it, instead of attributing it to MLK. So suss out any cooking techniques the recipe assumes you already know how to do, maybe print instructions for that too.

Now assemble the ingredients you need now, prep the first work surfaces you’ll need, gather the implements, and fire up that oven/stove/ice cream maker. Put the recipe in a spot that it won’t get wet or set on fire (perhaps clipped to the cabinet handles?) and make me some dinner.