Newly engaged? You’re probably planning a wedding and perhaps dreaming of a new home.
It’s also time to make a gift registry. But as you begin to walk down those store aisles, it may suddenly seem like putting together a list of everything you want and need for the kitchen has become an overwhelming task.
Happiness gives way to confusion: Do you and your future spouse agree on style? Do well-meaning relatives and friends strongly suggest some items you can never imagine using? Where will you be living in a year, or maybe five years, and what will you need then?
The gift registry is a way to help your wedding guests know the items you desire. Butgone are the days when the bride and her mom went to a traditional department store and registered for fine china and silver. Couples today are a team, and often men are leading the way to the kitchen.
Adweek reports that the 2010 U.S. Census lists the average age of first-time grooms as 28.2 years and brides as 26.1 years, which means older and wiser couples may have lived on their own and may bring fully equipped kitchens into the marriage.
In the 1950s, common bridal registry gifts included crystal glasses, elegant dinnerware and maybe an iron or electric skillet. Today it likely includes barware, wine racks, luggage and a heavy-duty stand mixer. Add single-serving coffee makers, slow cookers, ice cream freezers, multigrills and blenders, as well as household items, tools, camping gear, sports or hobby items, and fitness equipment.
Complicating the list is the explosion of materials, finishes, electronic controls, colors and designer names.
The suggested lists offered by stores or bridal magazines and websites are often guided by a desire to sell more. As a couple, you need to take a step back and decide which items you want, which you need and what fits your lifestyle. Remember you are in this together, so the selection process should be fun and include both partners.
To get started on your registry, consider the big picture.
▪ What do you already own?
▪ Do you enjoy cooking? Which of you takes the lead in the kitchen, or is it split equally?
▪ Do you look forward to entertaining?
▪ Do you enjoy ethnic flavors or more adventuresome cooking?
▪ What storage space do you have now, and what do you hope to have in the near future?
Next, put yourself in your guests’ shoes. Yes, that heavy-duty stand mixer and food processor are much sought after, and they are typically on every registry, but you will want to include less expensive utensils and plenty of items priced in the $25 to $50 range.
A few key items on almost every list include pots and pans, bakeware, knives and utensils. Research the items. Check books and read reputable authors on the various items. The materials and manufacturing techniques change quickly, and you will want to make up-to-date decisions. Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated and other sources offer descriptions so you can make an informed choice.
Avoid choosing brand-name items based solely on the name or their color or visual appeal. Visit several stores — not just the ones you will register at — and study what is available. Pick up the items and feel the weight, read the packaging and ask questions.
Quality never goes out of style: pots and pans, knives and bakeware can last for many years. Quality, however, does not always mean the highest price point.
You might want to start a list that you can edit or add notes to so when you come down to the task of registering you will be ready to list the exact item, model and brand that makes the most sense for you. Cellphone snapshots can aid in this endeavor.
After receiving your gifts, be sure to keep the use and care information. Nothing is worth registering for if you are afraid of it or not sure how to use it properly.
Once you own the basics and have cooked together for a few months, evaluate your kitchen equipment. Use the gift certificates you received to add other appliances or specialty utensils ideal for entertaining, or exploring a new cuisine or cooking style.
Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss are locally based professional home economists and small appliance experts who began working together in the Rival Test Kitchen. They are the authors of cookbooks, including their latest, “The Newlywed Cookbook: Cooking Happily Ever” (St. Martin’s Griffin, $29.99), a guide to the modern kitchen, with recipes.
Wedding registry check list
Keep in mind, no two lists will be identical. Customize your registry for your specific needs. Here is a list of basics to help get started.
Knives and cutlery
Choose a few top-quality knives. The most popular include:
▪ French or chef’s knife: an all-purpose blade, about 6 to 8 inches long
▪ Paring knife: for fine, detailed work or peeling
▪ Bread knife: serrated edges make it easier to slice bread
▪ Slicing or carving knife: larger blade, for slicing meats
▪ Kitchen scissors
▪ Pizza cutter
▪ Poultry shears
▪ Rasp-style grater
▪ Vegetable peeler
▪ 2 cutting boards: one for produce and bread and another for meat
▪ Can opener
▪ Citrus juicer
▪ Cooking spoon
▪ Pancake turner
▪ Pastry brush
▪ Rolling pin
▪ Slotted spoon
▪ Spatula, sometimes called a rubber scraper
▪ Strainer: a fine mesh strainer, or even 2 or 3 different sizes of strainers
▪ Whisk: a variety of sizes
▪ Vegetable brush
You may want to add:
▪ Pastry cutter or blender
▪ Scoops: a variety of sizes for ice cream, making cookies, meatballs or melon balls
▪ Scale, especially if baking is your passion
▪ Meat tenderizer
▪ Meat thermometer
▪ Dry measuring cups
▪ Liquid measuring cup: Yes, there is a difference between liquid and dry measuring cups, and they should not be used interchangeably when cooking.
▪ Measuring spoons
Pots and pans
You do not have to purchase a set; instead choose the pieces that best fit your needs:
▪ Skillets: Ideally, begin with a small (6 to 8-inch), medium (10-inch) and large (12-inch) skillet. Add a nonstick finished skillet for eggs and check if they are ovenproof for use in the oven. You might add a lid for the skillets.
▪ Saucepans or pots: a range of sizes, including small (1 quart), medium or larger (medium saucepan may hold about 3 quarts, while larger ones hold about 4 to 6 quarts).
▪ Dutch oven: This larger covered pan holds 6 to 12 quarts and is ideal for soup, stew, chili and other dishes that are braised or stewed.
▪ Stockpot: This tall, large pot is ideal for soup, stew, chili, cooking pasta and other large dishes.
▪ Grill pan: Ridges hold food up so they grill evenly.
▪ Griddle: electric or stove-top models.
▪ Colander: to drain pasta or vegetables or the fat from ground meat.
▪ Baking sheet or cookie sheet
▪ 2 cake pans: round, 8- or 9-inch; square 8- or 9-inch
▪ 2 loaf pans: 8-by-4-inch or 9-by-5-inch
▪ Rectangle bakers: 9-by-13-inch or 7-by-11-inch
▪ Pie plates: 9-inch (regular and deep-dish); 2 individual pie pans (about 41/4 inches in diameter)
▪ 2 tart pans: about 41/2-inches in diameter
▪ Pizza pan: 12 inches in diameter
▪ Casserole dishes: 1 each, 1, 2 or 3-quart
▪ Cooling racks: available in a variety of sizes, indispensable if you bake
▪ Food processor
▪ Mixer: Consider both a heavy-duty stand mixer and a hand-held mixer.
▪ Multigrill: with plates so it may be used as a griddle, for grilling, making panini sandwiches, and perhaps a waffle baker
▪ Slow cooker
▪ Toaster or toaster oven
▪ Ice cream freezer: Indoor, counter-top versions are convenient.