Mise en place is arguably one of the most important courses taught in culinary schools, but you don’t need to be a professional chef to perfect it. This French term literally means "put everything in place" and refers to the act of organizing recipe ingredients in a way that is as convenient and accessible as possible. Learn how to master this skill to make your meal preparation easier.
Research your recipe before you start cooking.
Before you turn on the stove, the first thing you need to do is to thoroughly research your recipe. Create an organized list of ingredients for each dish you are making, and note the quantity and type of cut required (shred, chopped, diced, etc.).
For example, if you are making two different recipes that both require garlic, you may need two tablespoons of minced garlic to make another half-cup slice. Making a checklist will help you realize if you are missing any essential ingredients in the pantry and need to run to the store at the last minute before it is too late.
Develop an effective preparation game plan.
Rather than double the work and prepare the ingredients for each recipe separately, it is better to plan to combine the ingredients of all the recipes and prepare the different cuts and portions of the project at once. In other words, instead of grating carrots, mincing garlic, and mincing celery as recipe one, then shredding carrots, slicing garlic, and dicing celery as recipe two, you prepare these items in groups of ingredients. Before moving on to the next task, you need to grind and chop the correct number of carrots for each recipe at a time to avoid jumping back and forth between ingredients and having to clean tools and wasting precious food preparation time.
Collect your tools and ingredients.
Now that you have developed an effective preparation game plan, it is time to gather your tools and ingredients and start cooking. Don’t look for your spatula, vegetable peeler, and citrus squeezer in the drawer when cooking. This saves you headaches in the preparation process and prepares the tools you expect to need in advance.
When it comes to on-site processing, one of the most useful tools may be a small bowl or container that you can use at any time, into which you can put the prepared ingredients. Restaurants usually rely on deli cups or 1/9 "hotel" pots, but small reusable bowls are the perfect home solution. When you complete the to-do list your way, just put the ingredients in your small container so that they will be organized when you are fully ready to go. You can also use the paper tray to easily collect and separate the different preparation ingredients of each individual recipe for easy access.
Clean while walking to avoid a mess.
After preparing all the ingredients, you can start cooking. Although the process of starting in-place setup may sound time-consuming, once you get the hang of it, you will complete meal preparation faster than ever. A good way to reduce meal time is to clean up as you walk instead of leaving everything to the end. Don't let your dishes accumulate in the sink, but pause between tasks to quickly rinse the dishes or load the dishwasher into the dishwasher when you have free time. After taking out the necessary amount, collect the ingredients, and then collect the crumbs in a large bowl and place them on the counter for easy disposal.
Allow yourself a juggling in the kitchen.
When cooking, the next step in a recipe happens quicker than you would expect. Don’t get caught off guard ever again and risk overcooking your dish while doing last-minute prep work you originally forgot and rely on your trusted mise en place skills instead. You'll look like a television show pro as you effortlessly reach for your pre-portioned and chopped ingredients to add to your recipe—not to mention spare yourself the stressful juggling act of cutting up your ingredients as the next step of your recipe calls for. Master this mise en place technique and you'll be cool as a cucumber in the kitchen with your highly organized and efficient prepped-ahead spread.