You know the drill. It’s that time again.
You head into the kitchen. You get out your recipes. You might even put music on (oh, come on, music while cooking is DA BOMB!). You might even do a little dance because you’re feeling so on top of things (if there’s music you kind of HAVE to dance). Then it happens. You were POSITIVE you had ALL the ingredients. But the (fill in the “ingredient” blank here) is NO WHERE to be found. You search the pantry, the refrigerator, back to the pantry and then back to the fridge again. You may repeat these steps once. Or twice. Or even THREE times.
THE MISSING INGREDIENT IS STILL NO WHERE TO BE FOUND
What. Do. You. Do? Some of you may toss out everything and order pizza. Some of you may forge ahead and try to see if you can find a substitute for the missing ingredient. But I bet ALL of you wish you had known BEFORE you started cooking that you didn’t have all the ingredients.
So in honor of a NEW YEAR, and resolutions of being more organized I have three little words for you ---- Mise En Place.
This lovely French phrase means “To Put in Place.” If you watch a lot of Food Network you’ve probably heard Bobby or Tyler or Giada use this term. It means prepping ALL of your ingredients BEFORE you start cooking. Simple, yet brilliant concept. Even though it may seem time consuming to prep EVERYTHING, I promise that Mise en Place WILL save you time AND stress when you’re cooking your next meal.
Depending on my mood (and how many kids are willing to help prep dinner) I have TWO versions of Mise en Place that I find work really well.
FIRST OPTION for MISE EN PLACE:
On a sheet tray (so you can carry your ingredients where you need them) lay out all the ingredients.
If there are veggies to chop, chop them and put them in a bowl. If you will be adding ingredients at the same time, they can be put in the same bowl, otherwise you will need to use different bowls for each ingredient.
If there are spices to measure, line up all the spice jars with measuring spoons.
Line up cans (tomatoes, beans, etc.).
Now, you may say “I’m more of a chop-and-add-as-I-go” person. How many times have you burned ingredients while you frantically chop/dice/mince the other ingredients that are supposed to be added to the pan. Raise your hand. I know you have. I know I have. Yep. Been there. Done that. Had to start ALL over because instead of golden brown and shiny, my onions were black and crispy. If you chop/dice/mince EVERYTHING beforehand, you will be MUCH more likely NOT to burn anything. It’s a win-win!
Ok. So now for the SECOND OPTION:
It’s pretty much like the first option. All ingredients go on a sheet pan. Chop/dice/mince ingredients that need to be chopped/diced/minced. Now, INSTEAD of lining up cans and spice jars, measure out your spices and put them in small dishes. You can put your spices in the same dish IF you’re going to add them at the same time. Take lids off all your cans. If you’re using beans, I like to go an extra step and rinse/drain the beans and put them in a separate dish.
I took a couple of photos of the different Mise en Places I like to use in my kitchen. Feel free to scroll the photos above for examples of Mise en Place
I’m sure there are more variations on Mise en place, so feel free to use whatever method makes the most sense and is the most helpful in YOUR kitchen.
Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!