I know it’s obvious, but before you start cooking, read the whole recipe, because nothing is worse than reading the next line of the recipe that says “reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid” after you’ve just poured that liquid down the drain. Well there are worse things, but that is really disheartening. You also don’t want to get halfway through the recipe to find out you don’t have an ingredient or a tool to finish it. This always happens while you are in your pj’s. You can also find out if there is stuff you can do in advance to make the final prep easier. The recipe may say you can do this in advance to this point or ingredients may need special preparation. If you need help with that, you can leave it in the comments or on my Facebook page.
Another thing to do before you start cooking is do a mise en place. This is a French term, so I mangle the pronunciation, but I do know it means putting in place. To do this you measure, weigh and assemble all your ingredients. This makes cooking so much easier and faster. You also know what you are missing before you start. (see above) You don’t have to have a separate dish for each ingredient. When I am doing cookies, for example, the flour, leavening and salt all go in one bowl, since the recipe will say sift those ingredients together.