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Included In Your Kit

KEY:  GOOD ★★★  FAIR ★★  POOR ★

An organized, tidy food prep station creates a foundation for safe, clean, and successful cooking. In our test kitchen, “setting up your board” means setting up your cooking station before you begin to prep and cook. Setting up your board at home is just as important.

OXO Good Grips Carving and Cutting Board

Best Buy - Recommended
CUTTING ★★★
DURABILITY ★★
USER-FRIENDLINESS ★★★
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine September 2011 We compared cutting performance, durability, and user­-friendliness. We diced onions, chopped chipotle chiles, minced herbs, and hacked up chicken thighs. Each board ran through high­-heat commercial dishwashers 40 to 75 times and suffered a fall from the counter after testing.
DIMENSIONS 14.5" x 21" WEIGHT 3.85lbs MATERIAL PLASTIC DISHWASHER SAFE? YES

Anchor Hocking Custard Cups, Set of 4

Best Buy - Recommended
FOOTPRINT ★★½
DURABILITY ★★★
EASE-OF-USE ★★★
VERSATILITY ★★½
STAIN AND ODOR RESISTANCE ★★★
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine January 2016 We compared seven widely available sets of prep bowls, filling and emptying them with a variety of different foods. We noted accumulated stains and odors and the bowls’ condition after repeated washing. A nudge off the counter helped assess durability. Microwave­-safe and/or oven-safe bowls earned extra points.
DIMENSIONS 3.75" x 2" CAPACITY 6 oz MICROWAVE SAFE? Yes DISHWASHER SAFE? Yes

Now Designs Ripple Kitchen Towel

Highly Recommended
HANDLING ★★★
ABSORPTION ★★★
DURABILITY ★★★
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine June 2014 We quantified absorbency by dangling an inch of each towel into a tub of water for 15 minutes, weighing the towels before and after. We also used the towels to wring water from frozen spinach, hold hot baking dishes, and dry slim, delicate champagne flutes. A set of 26 full laundry cycles mimicked 6 months of weekly washing and helped us test long­term durability.
Quantity Included 1 MATERIAL Cotton, Ribbed Weave SIZE 25" x 18.25"

Progressive International Flexible Chopping Mats, Set of 4

Highly Recommended
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine August 2005 We cut up chicken and vegetables and transferred the ingredients directly from the mats into a pan. Thicker, stronger, and dishwasher­-safe cutting mats performed best.
DIMENSIONS 12" x 15" x 0.1" WEIGHT 12.8oz

Food Prep Tips

Safe Food Handling Tips

PUT UP BARRIERS

Items that come in contact with both raw and cooked food, like scales and platters, should be covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to create a protective barrier. Once the item has been used, the protective layer should be discarded.

DON'T RINSE RAW MEAT AND POULTRY

Avoid rinsing raw meat and poultry, as doing so is likely to spread contaminants around your sink. The only exception is brined food, which needs to be rinsed before cooking. Cooking food to a safe internal temperature will effectively kill surface bacteria.

SEASON SAFETY

Bacteria can live on the edges of a box or salt shaker. To avoid contamination, we grind pepper into a clean small bowl and then mix it with salt. We reach into the bowl for seasoning without having to wash our hands every time. Then the bowl goes into the dishwasher.


Setting Up Your Cutting Station

ANCHOR YOUR BOARD

A cutting board that slides all over the counter is not only annoying, it is also unsafe. If your cutting board doesn’t have nonslip grips on the bottom (our Best Buy does), place either a square of wet paper towel or a small piece of shelf liner between the counter and the cutting board.

ORGANIZE YOUR PREP

Organizing your prepped ingredients into little bowls isn’t just for TV chefs; it’s a great idea for home cooks, too. This setup makes it easy to grab an ingredient and add it to a hot pan at just the right moment.