mise en place

Mise en place: A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.

Mise en place keeps me sane with recipes with a lot of ingredients. It’s like Kitchen yoga for me. I find my zen with it. There’s something very calming about it.  The rituals of chopping the vegetables and measuring spices without the confines of the alloted times in a recipe for cooking is relaxing for me. In addition, when I go to actually make whatever I’m making, it’s a simple drop or pour in, so the cooking process is stress-free, as well. And with two children running around, you know I need less stress in my life. In fact, today, I have one child with croup who’s heading to the MD this afternoon and I’m on the tail end of a nasty headcold.

You’ll see I did my mise en place today (minus the beer, because my mother in law is picking it up at the store for me).  It’s been a very big part of my menu planning. I menu plan to save money, primarily, but also to save time. Your mise en place can be done the night before if you work during the day. I don’t think every recipe necessarily needs this ritual, but I don’t hesitate to use it. It’s an organizing tool. For example, if you have chopped onions in several recipes in a given week, chop them once. Measure them out, store them separately by recipe in the fridge, and use them as you need them. Don’t chop them every single time you need them. Makes no sense. (suitNtie complains about red onions. they are rather fragrant, to be fair, so consider yourself warned.)

One tool I really love when I’m working on my mise en place is my food chopper. Yes, I spent several years hand chopping onions and the like. If you like to waste time, knock yourself out. If you’re chopping a significant amount, you need one of these.  My recommendation: the Pampered Chef one. I’ve owned the Oxo and the darn thing fell apart. The Pampered Chef one is the best, really. I have other items that I use to help me save time but this is by far my mise en place workhorse.

But I digress. I’d like to know if you do mise en place in your kitchen. Or are you a throw it all together at the last minute kind of person? Or, like me, do you use it only for recipes with a lengthy list of ingredients?