3 Little Words That Make Cooking Way Easier

Mise en place your way to less stress in the kitchen.

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mise en place

mise en place

Mise en place for pressure-cooked ham and melted cheese pudding dish. Ingredients are buttered dry brown bread, cup of milk, lightly beaten eggs, tablespoon mustard, dried parsley, grated Gruyère, sliced scallions and diced cured ham. High point of view.

Photo by: annick vanderschelden photography/GettyImages

annick vanderschelden photography/GettyImages

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You know how chefs on camera make it look so easy, with their little glass bowls of ingredients already perfectly minced and diced, ready to dump in the pan? Sure, there’s often a culinary producer helping out with that behind the scenes – but the basic principle is one you can totally adopt at home. It’s a French term called mise en place, which roughly translates to “everything in its place”.

The premise is simple: Have everything ready to go before you start cooking. Peel and chop vegetables, mince garlic, trim and season cuts of meat, set necessary mixing bowls, tools and cooking vessels out before you ever turn on a burner. Ever started a recipe and then had to rummage through kitchen drawers to find that pesky microplane while your hands are already covered in flour? Yeah, I’m guilty.

The beauty of mise en place is best illustrated with something quick-cooking that requires a bunch of prep, like a stir fry, but it really applies to any dish. When I’m making my mom’s super-simple chili, for instance, I’ve got my Dutch oven out, spices pulled from the rack, onions and garlic prepped, meat seasoned, and cans of tomatoes and beans open (and beans rinsed) before any cooking occurs.

It makes quick weeknight meals like this even easier, but is also a game-changer when cooking for a crowd. Mise en place that dinner party menu ahead of time so you can throw it all together with ease and hang with your guests. When everything is “mized”, it’s far more enjoyable to have a glass of wine and chat while cooking!

This is also huge for cleanup. Cleaning as you go is somewhat the inverse of mise en place. After you’ve prepped, you can clean cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls and whisks and put them away, minimizing the dish load at the end of the meal.

Once you start embracing mise en place in your kitchen, there’s no need to invest in a supply of those camera-ready little glass bowls. Plastic pint and quart containers (recycled from takeout!) are your best friends.

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